Language Skills of Youth Offenders

Nov 20 2022

Interventions, Cultural Context, Law & Policy

The study presents an analysis of the overall language skills of youth offenders involved in the juvenile justice system. This will help identify avenues that can increase the likelihood of successful interventions.

Youth with language disorders have a higher chance of being involved in crime

Developmental Language Disorders [DLD] are a common comorbidity in youth with involvement with the juvenile justice system, and boys with DLD are an estimated four times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior. 

Because of these challenges, youth offenders are at a higher risk of experiencing difficulty engaging in the high-stakes judicial process, as well as navigating their environment, forming relationships, and succeeding academically.

Youth in juvenile facilities have lower language skills

A systematic literature review was conducted, and data was extracted and coded according to age, gender, nationality, and language processing abilities. Language scores of youth in juvenile facilities were then analyzed. Results showed youth offenders presented with significantly lower language skills than their non-offending peers. Further, high proportions of the present sample were classified as youth with moderate (50%) and severe (10%) language disorders.

Extra support needed for children with language disorders

Considering the importance of our language-focused lifestyles, we need to support these life skills of youth offenders in the courts and via educational intervention to maximize the likelihood of success. Sixty-three percent of the current study’s sample demonstrated a mild to severe language disorder. This rate of prevalence is much higher than in the general population and

underscores the need for additional speech and language support among youth offenders or in the child protection system.

Youth with behavior indicative of a behavior disorder are more likely to experience juvenile justice involvement and are at higher risk for unidentified language disorder.

Notable Quotes: 

“It is essential to note that language type has the potential to impact youth in juvenile facilities and their ability to navigate the juvenile justice system effectively and successfully.”

“Socio-economic status (SES) is positively associated with language development, and

children from lower SES families are more likely to have a language disorder than their peers

from higher SES families.”

“[…]parents and caregivers with a higher education level and more readily available resources typically talk with their children more than parents with a lower education level and less resources.”

Personal Takeaway: 

I found it very sad that students with language disorders who do not receive the support they need at school have a much higher prevalence of getting involved in a life of crime. This reinforces the saying, “no child left behind,” and this is what we need to implement in all our schools.—Shekufeh

Chow, J. C., Wallace, E. S., Senter, R., Kumm, S., & Mason, C. Q. (in press). A systematic  review and meta-analysis of the language skills of youth offenders. Journal of Speech,  Language, and Hearing Research.

You May Also Like