CRITICAL ANALYSIS PAPER
Youth offences are the most significantly observed form of violence in the present times, across the globe. As on September 2016, about 200,000 homicides take place annually worldwide amongst the youth aging between10–29 years, placing it as the fourth principal cause of death in this age category. The data further revealed that 83% of the homicides victims were male. (World Health Organization, 2017) The article that is being critiqued is authored by Chi Meng Chu, Michael Daffern, Stuart Thomas and Jia Ying Lim and titled “Violence risk and gang affiliation in youth offenders: a recidivism study”. This article was published in the Psychology, Crime & Law journal in its April, 2012 issue, volume 18, issue 3, pages 299 to 315. In the critical-analysis of the article, I would be carrying out an analysis of the research procedure and methods used. The study will be further assessed as to whether the conclusions are appropriate as per the purpose of the study as well the political influence on the research process and findings.
The tile of the article “Violence risk and gang affiliation in youth offenders: a recidivism study” is specific, given the subject of the study undertaken in this research paper. The tile is crisp and concise, yet giving sufficient information about the topics covered. It provides adequate information regarding the primary variable of the research process, the youth offenders. The research which involves the violent characteristics among the youth is well mentioned in the title itself. The underlying theory in the research process is not mentioned in the title and neither is the nature of the research listed. Further, since this study was specifically done on a sample of youth offenders in Singapore, the same is not evident in the title. However, I do get a brief understanding of the subject covered and get a hint of what I am about to read.
The abstract on the other hand, gives a lot of information and acts as a brief summary of the research paper. The abstract clearly mentions the purpose of the research which is the study of the young gangs outside America and Europe, in particular the issue of criminal activities, the gang affiliations of the young offenders as well their tendency to repeat the offence. The Multivariate analyses method being used on a sample of 165 male young offenders of Singapore was mentioned along with a brief summary of the result found. The information and the brief summary of the research process mentioned in the abstract was effective and helped me to understand the content of the paper.
This section starts with a background on the issue of universal presence of the violent traits amongst the youth. The section builds up by throwing sufficient light on the background of the issue of the prevalent violence in youth, particularly in Singapore, and the need of experimental research on the socio-clinical needs as well the threat of a repetition of the criminal offence. The introduction section goes on to define the key variables such as “youth gang”. However, there are differing views on the same by various scholars, which the authors have cited accordingly. For instance, the scholars of the Eurogang Program have defined youth as a group of tough, street-based young people involved in illegal activity. The same has been disagreed by other scholars. The majority of agreement on the definition is that it is a group formed on the basis of mutual interests, has specific patterns and norms of communication and also involved in criminal offence together. The introduction section provides several substantial facts as well statistics to make a strong thesis on the impending problem which needs to be investigated. It states the high rate of violence in Singapore, with the youth crime being a major concern. The hypothesis of the research is described as whether a youth affiliated to a gang is more prone to the risk of getting involved in substance abuse, anti-social activities, pro-criminal outlook, friendship with anti-social peers and are more likely to repeat the offences committed more frequently than those who are not affiliated to any gang. The purpose of the research is to find out the socio-demographic resemblances and variances between those young offenders who are affiliated to a gang and those who are not, the levels of risks and criminogenic needs they are exposed to; as well the correlation among being affiliated to a gang and the tendency to repeat a criminal offence.
The article doesn’t specifies the similar studies undertaken by scholars in the different parts of the world. The youth gang affiliations and their trends as prevalent in the various continents such as America, Europe, Australia and Asia, particularly Singapore are presented with the findings. The offence committed and its relationship with the young people affiliated to gangs in the other parts of the world, are well-presented along with the results found. The research findings of various other studies conducted have revealed that though Asians are similar to the gangs prevalent in America, they are qualitatively different in the sense that, they have a tendency to spread various forms of offences such as assault, robbery, extortion, shootings or heightened assault. As per a study conducted on the middle school students of Bangkok, factors like early experience to family violence, affection for family, ethical reasoning as well as situational reasoning, greatly impact the youth violent conduct. (Amaraphibal, Rujipak and Payakkakom, 2013) Further, the Asian youth feels a need to get affiliated to a gang in foreign lands, where they are a minority, to protect themselves. The Department of the Youth Authority Office of Criminal Justice Planning have claimed that the issue of violence and affiliation to a gang are sure signs of human displacement which antagonises the youth. (Department of the Youth Authority Office of Criminal Justice Planning, 1998) All the sources cited dates back to the late 90s and is covered till 2008. Thus, the findings of the other scholar journals referred in the article pertains to the current times. There are very few direct quotes used in the literature review undertaken. Though the research question is not mentioned, the article does moves towards the hypothesis of the present research being undertaken.
A sample of 165 young males, accused and sentenced with criminal charges was selected for the research. The prior consent of the Clinical and Forensic Psychology Branch, from where the data is taken, is obtained. The information provided on the sample doesn’t enable any further duplication, however, sufficient details are given which helps to understand the quality of sample being selected. The size of the sample helps to minimize the “probability of error” and increases the chances of its “success”. (Martínez-Mesa et al., 2014) In comparison to other research studies conducted, this sample size is very less. Another study conducted on similar topic in which even the present author Chi Meng Chu had participated, a sample size of 3,744 youth offenders undertaken. (Lai, Zeng and Chu, 2015) However, if we consider the population of Singapore and take into consideration the margin of error, the sample size of 165 is appropriate for the research. Singapore is a small island comprising of 5 million people in approximate. (Chan, 2010) The young population of the country is estimated at 13.5 percent.
The use of two instruments, namely Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), a 24-item risk assessment instrument and Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI), a structured assessment instrument is used to evaluate the threat factor and criminogenic needs of the young offender. The reliability score for both the instruments were recorded as 0.67 and 0.79, respectively. Sufficient precautions were taken by the five assistants who ensure there is no coding discrepancy.
Mixed method was employed for the research process comprising of both quantitative as well qualitative, for the collection of the data. The “descriptive” method was used to collect the data from the CFPB office, along with the “categorical data” collected regarding the socio-demographic as well the other quantitative data regarding the youth offenders. (pp. 305, Chu et al., 2010) The data obtained are recorded in the instruments in the form of “numbers and percentages, and continuous data” with regards to the mean and standard deviation. (pp. 305, Chu et al., 2010) The qualitative data was obtained by the observations made on the SAVRY and YLS/CMI instruments used. A coding process was used to reduce the chances of bias in the research process, while recording the observations in the instrument. The previous codes of the data and “risk assessment measures” using past records is an approved method which is used to study the samples. (pp. 305, Chu et al., 2010) The data having discrepancies were not recorded in the instrument.
Multivariate analyses was used for analysing the data collected in the study. Multivariate analysis is a statistical procedure of continuously analysing the multiple independent data with the multiple dependent data collected. This process is apt for use in those research studies where there is prevalence of more than one variables. (CAMO Software, 2017) Since the subject of the research is human behaviour which is often complex and unpredictable, the choice of the method for analysis is appropriate. A combination of Univariate analysis, Chi-square tests and Cox regression model was used to classify as well analyse the multiple variables of the study. Statistics deemed to be irrelevant to the research process were discarded to increase the reliability. The justification of the models and method used for analysis was mentioned. However, there were no limitations or problems discovered in the research procedure.
The result highlighted a noteworthy connection between gang association and criminal tendency in youth lawbreakers. Moreover, these outcomes have significant clinical as well as policy inferences, signifying an enhanced prerequisite for supplementary as well as more exhaustive assessment. The findings were presented both in the tabular as well as the textual format. The majority of the result was presented in statistics, with an interpretation as well, which made it easier to follow and comprehend. The result did correspond to the hypothesis formulated and agreed that the presence of violence, substance and weapon use were in relation to gang-affiliation. Further, the univariate analysis confirmed that the youngsters having an association with a gang had more chances of engaging in violence than non-gang members and were more likely to repeat the offence.
One limitation discussed is that the percentage of gang affiliation is pretty high in the sample. The reason is that the sample is taken from a population of offenders instead of general young population. Hence, the comparison is made only between the gang and non-hang offenders. There are references made to the literature review listed initially the article. It correlated to the findings from the studies done in the other parts of the world, namely America, Europe and Australia. Further, the findings of the research prove the hypothesis that gang members are more prone to violence and repeating the offence than non-gang members. However, the study fails to mention the probable consequences which the youth undergoes as a result of the violence committed. The issue of youth violence as well as a solution to the problem continues to plague the minds of the government authorities. (Seal and Harris, n.d.) The serious as well other forms of assaults done by the youth lead to the increased untimely casualties, damage and ill health. (Cooley-Strickland et al., 2009)
The impact of youth violence can be felt not only by its victims but also by their families, friends, and communities. As rightly mentioned, this study implicates the need of “intensive intervention”. (pp. 310-311, Chu et al., 2010) The young population having traits of violence often partake in a series of assaults and exhibit various social and psychological complications. This could be highly detrimental to the society.
One of the grave limitation of this study is that the data taken is from retrospective case files. Hence, the data collected does not directly correspond to the study undertaken. This could render the interpretation of the study inaccurate as such research is highly “undervalued and underutilized” in a study involving the psychology of young people. (A Methodology for Conducting Retrospective Chart Review Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2006) This adversely impacts the research purpose, as the accurate factors leading to the violent behaviour among youth is absent in the study. As predicted by a study conducted by U.S. Department of Justice, there are a series of factors which influence youngsters to commit violence including family, peer, psychological and neighbourhood influences. (Wilson, 2000) Further, the study was also unable to examine the “non-adjudicated offences” committed by these young people before they got affiliated to gangs. (pp. 311, Chu et al., 2010) The limitations also mentions the sample not being exhaustive. Thus, the study has many flaws which renders the results of the study questionable.
The conclusions emphasize on the results found and prove the hypothesis formulated. It reaffirms that the youth affiliated to a gang are at greater risk of committing violence and repeating the offenses. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), it has been proven that there exists a relationship between violence caused by the young people and other kinds of offences. (World Health Organization, 2017) This claim can be well substantiated by the research findings which states the probability based on the records achieved from CFPB office. The conclusion states the need of “stringent” and intensive intervention for the rehabilitation of the youth offenders. (pp. 311, Chu et al., 2010) The conclusion also recommends the need for further study for the advancement of the research purpose. The study was influenced by the law and regulation of Singapore because of which there was no instance of weapon use in this sample. This can be correlated to the strict gun control law prevalent in Singapore. (Library of Congress, 2017) This factor is in stark contrast to the other studies undertaken in America, Europe and Australia. Hence, this would have impacted the findings of the research process which otherwise would have given a more accurate result.
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