Juvenile offenders in jobs end anti-social

Dec. 29, 2012 at 1:05 AM
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PITTSBURGH, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Placing juvenile offenders in jobs without ensuring they attend school may result in them being more anti-social, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and the University of California, Irvine, said evidence suggests working long hours during the school year has negative effects on adolescent anti-social behavior among middle- and upper-income youths.

But, much less is known about how employment during the school year affects high-risk adolescents, particularly with respect to delinquent behavior. Examples of anti-social behavior included beating up somebody, purposely destroying or damaging properly, and knowingly buying or selling stolen goods, the researchers said.

The researchers studied about 1,350 serious juvenile offenders who were ages 14-17 at the beginning of the study. They used monthly information about employment, school attendance and anti-social behavior over the course of five years.

The youth, most of whom were from low-income families, had been convicted of a felony or similarly serious non-felony offense such as a misdemeanor sexual assault or weapons offense.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, found going to school regularly without working was associated with the least anti-social behavior, and high-intensity employment -- defined as more than 20 hours a week -- was associated with diminished anti-social behavior only among youth who also attended school regularly.

Youth who worked long hours and didn't attend school regularly were at the greatest risk for anti-social behavior, followed by youth who worked long hours and didn't go to school at all.

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