218968 Factors Associated with Delinquency among Throwaway Adolescents

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Katherine Montgomery, MSSW , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Amanda Barczyk, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Sanna Thompson, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Background: Substantial research has shown that runaway and homeless adolescents frequently engage in delinquent behaviors. Research suggests that throwaway youth differ substantially from runaway youth, yet they are often combined in empirical studies. Throwaway youth are those who have been forced to leave parental homes without alternative care arranged or those who are prevented from returning home. Some have suggested that approximately 22% of youth labeled as runaway are throwaway youth. As limited research exists investigating delinquency among throwaway youth, this study aimed to examine specific individual and relationship factors associated delinquent behaviors among throwaway adolescents.

Methods: Questionnaires using several standardized self-report measures were completed by 170 adolescents, aged 13-17 years who were admitted to juvenile detention. Participants were admitted by family court from among youth whose parents had relinquished guardianship. The Youth Self Report was utilized to measure adolescents' delinquent behavior. Demographics and individual and relational factors were examined.

Results: Multiple regression analysis of individual factors demonstrated that adolescents who ran away, were more aggressive, were depressed or had poor attitudes towards school had significantly higher delinquent behaviors (F(11,106)=8.00, p<.001). Relational factors demonstrated that adolescents who were involved in a gang, had peers who used substances, or had higher levels of family conflict had significantly higher delinquent behaviors (F(7,147)=7.64, p<.001).

Conclusion: Findings suggest that throwaway youth appear to have unhealthy relationships with family, school, and peers. Additionally, they struggle with aggression and depression. Those providing treatments to these youth must address these factors when working with this unique population.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the importance in differentiating runaway youth and "throwaway" youth. Identify individual factors associated with delinquent "throwaway" youth. Identify relational factors (peer and family) associated with delinquent "throwaway" youth. Describe how factors inform more individualized, evidence-based treatment planning.

Keywords: Runaways, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in conducting the research and data analysis for this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.