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NCJ Number: 148917 Find in a Library
Title: Neutralization and Delinquency Among Teenagers
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:21  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1994)  Pages:223-235
Author(s): I W Shields; G C Whitehall
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 13
Type: Measurement/Evaluation Device
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study developed a psychometrically sound measure of neutralization that is accessible to delinquents with limited verbal skills.
Abstract: Sykes and Matza (1957) and later Matza (1964) challenged the subcultural theory of delinquency. They suggested that delinquents and nondelinquents share similar moral prohibitions, but that episodic release from moral constraint allows the former to engage in antisocial activity. Delinquents, in effect, "neutralize" traditional moral constraints by attending to particular features of a given situation that allow exceptions to be made. In testing the capabilities of the authors recently developed neutralization scale, Study 1 (postdictive) investigated the scale's ability to differentiate between incarcerated young offenders and self-reported nondelinquent high school students. Study 2 assessed the scale's internal consistency and its relationship with other established measures of delinquency. Subsequently, the relationship between neutralization scores and subsequent misbehavior among incarcerated young offenders was considered (predictive). Finally, Study 3 (also predictive) explored the relationship between neutralization scores and postdischarge recidivism among young offenders. Findings indicate that the scale is both reliable, in terms of internal consistency, and valid in terms of its relationship with other measures of a propensity toward delinquency, its ability to differentiate between delinquents and nondelinquents, and its ability to predict subsequent delinquency among incarcerated juvenile offenders. 2 tables and 18 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile delinquency theory
Index Term(s): Criminology; Juvenile delinquency factors; Neutralization theory
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