Professional Contacts as a Moderator of Risk Factors and Recidivism in the Juvenile Justice System

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Adena Meyers

Mentor Department



The primary purpose of this research study is to examine whether the number of professional contacts a minor has moderates the association between risk factors (such as substance abuse and mental health problems) and recidivism in the juvenile justice system. Previous research has shown that substance use is a significant predictor of recidivism in youth who are going through emerging adulthood, and that substance use is predictive for both violent and non-violent offenses (Denney & Connor, 2016). A study that investigated the contribution of psychiatric disorders to recidivism found that externalizing disorders increased rates of recidivism for juvenile offenders, and that substance use and affective disorders predicted recidivism specifically among girls (McReynolds, Schwalbe, & Wasserman, 2010). In the current study, we defined recidivism as having more than one offense within the period of the study while the defendant was still a minor. Using hierarchical multiple regression with cross-product terms we will examine predictors of recidivism and the potential moderation effect of professional contacts by social service providers. We predict that professional contacts will moderate the association between recidivism and mental health/substance abuse problems such that these risk factors will be less influential in predicting recidivism among youth who meet frequently with professionals throughout their time in the juvenile justice system.



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