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Why they desist: Understanding the life worlds of young people involved in crime

Haigh, Y. (2007) Why they desist: Understanding the life worlds of young people involved in crime. Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

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    Abstract

    This study was made possible by a Research and Development Grant from Lotterywest. The aim of the project was to explore the experiences, interpretations and perceptions of young people with a history of crime who are attempting to move away from criminal activity. The project was designed to provide an avenue that allowed for the voices, stories and interpretations of these young people with a history of offending in a bid to explore some of the ways they negotiate their move away from crime. The study has sought to use these insights in order to identify potential pathways out of crime.

    The research shows that, although these young people’s experiences around crime are varied, they share common ideas in regards to changing their behaviour. In this study, the participants have identified some of the factors that make it difficult to achieve change. Their stories also highlight the complexities associated with connecting to other members of the broader community who have not had a criminal history.
    In the body of the report the following issues are highlighted and discussed:

    •The contextual factors that impact on young people’s decisions regarding desistance from crime
    •The imperative of personal decision-making processes
    •The importance of patterns and vulnerabilities around the “triggers” to re-offend
    •Identification of the strategies and motivators that maintain changes
    •Youth perceptions of support and intervention services

    The report also makes the following recommendations:
    •To maintain the current system of cautions for young people under 18 years of age
    •Provide the means by which the views of young people can be integrated into intervention strategies, thus encouraging young people to develop their own views and decisions regarding their lives
    •In intervention programs, to make a clear distinction between forms of support and punitive measures regarding attendance
    •To engender rewards and rituals for success in intervention programs
    •To explore further the manner in which social, cultural and political practices block pro-social connections to members of the community

    Overall, this project has identified that young people who have a history of engaging in criminal activity recognise that an integral aspect of changing their lives requires a
    committed decision on their part. However, while recognising that a personal decision is integral to positive change, this decision feeds into wider social, cultural and political factors. These factors include addressing substance misuse; recognising and challenging blockages that close down the possibility for young people to develop supportive relationships with others; providing access to appropriate housing and support services; and ensuring that young people are provided with significant opportunities for change.

    Publication Type: Report
    Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Social and Community Research
    Publisher: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University
    Copyright: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/10999
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