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The language, Literacy and Communication Skills of Young Offenders and Non-Offenders: A Mixed Methods Study.

Hopkins, Thomas (2014) The language, Literacy and Communication Skills of Young Offenders and Non-Offenders: A Mixed Methods Study. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Research has identified young offenders (YOs) in custody as having low language, literacy and communication skills. However, the language, communication and literacy difficulties of YOs who are on court orders is still unknown and more research is required to fully understand the relationship between language and offending behaviour. This study aims to investigate the association between language, communication, literacy, and behaviour in young offenders on court orders using; 1) appropriate and relevant quantitative methods of assessment to establish levels of performance and 2) qualitative interviews in order to examine participants’ views on how language limitations affect social interaction. To address methodological limitations in previous research, confounds were controlled for by comparing YOs to a control group of non-offenders (N=25) matched on Socio-Economic Status (SES), Non-Verbal IQ and Educational Attendance (EA). An opportunity sample of 57 young offenders (age range 12-18 years) was recruited from a Youth Offending Service in the UK. Inclusion criteria required all participants to have English as their first language and for none to be receiving any speech and language therapy. The YOs performed below the expected level on all the language assessments based on comparisons with normative scores. Logistical regression analysis revealed that they were also performing significantly lower than their matched control group of non-offenders, especially on the spoken language and literacy components. Age, gender, ethnicity and looked after status were not significant contributors to the relationship between language and offending status. Findings indicate that language, literacy, and communication performance is associated with offending behaviour in accordance with the social model of adaptation, independent of SES and EA. This highlights the importance of not only delivering language, literacy and communication support to this population, but also the need to collaborate and offer training to the range of staff working with YOs. The advantages of incorporating relevant and functional age appropriate language tests alongside interviews to gain a holistic view of language, literacy and communication needs in YOs are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Human Communication Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > Human Communication Sciences (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.635403
Depositing User: Mr Thomas Hopkins
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2015 12:30
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8147

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