Background: Little is known about the needs of substance-using juveniles in treatment aimed at reducing criminal recidivism. Therefore, we aimed to examine treatment needs of substance-using juvenile offenders.
Methods: Differences were examined between juvenile offenders who abstain from substance use (ASU; n=1974) and substance-using juvenile offenders without (SU; n=7000) and with substance use problems (SUP; n=3317), in the prevalence of risk/protective factors for criminal recidivism and strength of associations between risk/protective factors and criminal recidivism. We conducted secondary data analysis on recidivism risk assessments, collected with the Washington State Juvenile Court Assessment, and re-offending data. Analyses of variance and Partial correlations, adjusted for age, gender and ethnicity were applied, as well as Fisher's z tests and logistic regression analyses.
Results: Results showed that substance-using offenders, especially those with substance use problems, had more risk factors and less protective factors than ASU youths in the domains of school, use of free time, relationships, family, attitude, aggression and skills. The associations between most of the risk/protective factors and recidivism were stronger in the ASU group than in the SUP group. Substance use uniquely predicted recidivism, net of risk factors.
Conclusions: These results suggest that general interventions for juvenile offenders addressing risk and protective factors with the aim to reduce recidivism may be less effective for offenders with substance use problems, and that substance use (problems) should be addressed, too.
Keywords: Criminal recidivism; Impact on recidivism; Juvenile offenders with substance use problems; Protective factors; Risk factors.
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