Factors that prevent offending in a cohort of children identified as potential offenders.

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Louise Games


The outcome for children who become involved in criminal behaviour can be bleak, and gaining a criminal record can have effects on all aspects of their lives; including mental health, relationships and employment. Supporting children not to become involved in the Youth Justice System is the best way to protect against these outcomes. There are a variety of risk factors which are known to place children at risk of becoming involved in offending behaviour. However, whilst many children with these risk factors do not go on to offend or gain criminal records, few studies have examined the factors that are protective influences. This study employed a qualitative approach; using thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with 5 children who were referred to a Youth Offending Team preventative programme, and who did not go on to offend. Nine themes were identified in the children's answers. These were: having had enough of antisocial behaviour, awareness of consequences, goals and aspirations, identity, strategies, understanding the need for authority, support, positive relationships outside immediate circle, alternative activitiesFrom these themes, seventeen key factors were identified as being important in these children's resistance to offending. These factors were found to be both within the child and within their environment, and were that the children: showed an understanding of the possible consequences of future negative behaviour on themselves, showed an understanding of the need for authority, had a goal in life, viewed themselves positively, distanced themselves from their past behaviour, had strategies to manage negative friends, showed that they have 'had enough' of antisocial behaviour, showed an understanding of the possible consequences of future negative behaviour on their family, distanced themselves from others who offend, had opportunities to be a good role model, had strategies to avoid even minor antisocial behaviour, had strategies to avoid trouble spots, had support from family, had co-ordinated support from professionals, had access to alternative activities, had positive peers and had a positive relationship with an adult outside their immediate circleThe seventeen factors were developed into a theoretical model, which was used to produce a framework for intervention for Educational Psychologists (EPs). The validity of this model was discussed by considering its fit with the previous literature around both desistance from, and resistance to, offending behaviour. A role for EPs using this model and a framework for working within Youth Offending Teams is discussed along with future research directions.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2014