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NCJ Number: 221560 Find in a Library
Title: Identity Development of the Incarcerated Adolescent with Particular Reference to Prison Gang Membership
Journal: Acta Criminologica  Volume:20  Issue:3  Dated:2007  Pages:61-74
Author(s): R. Peacock; A. Theron
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 14
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: South Africa
Annotation: The purpose of this study was to focus on gang activity as a particular risk factor impacting negatively on role experimentation and identity development of incarcerated youth in South Africa.
Abstract: Concurring with previous findings, results of the study indicate that incarcerated adolescents that achieved a low level of identity development were significantly more likely to be members of prison gangs than those with a high level of identity development. It also transpired that research participants with a lower level of identity development were significantly more likely to have friends that belonged to a gang than those with a higher level of identity development. Without any sense of direction, identity diffused subjects usually experience feelings of worthlessness and their delinquency often becomes a tool of self-destruction. They are frequently impulsive and irresponsible which are indicators of weak superego strength. The lack of purpose, value, and direction can render the incarcerated adolescent with a low level of a personal identity particularly vulnerable to gang membership. It was concluded that the dysfunctionality of these adaptations of the adolescent to institutional life could be viewed as “normal” reactions to a set of pathological prison conditions. The study illustrates the significance of the correctional or prison environment on the formation of adolescent identity. Confinement creates a prison community that requires the incarcerated adolescent to adjust to unfamiliar values, traditions, and social relationships. During the process of adaptation, they could experience changes in identity. Gang membership may assist the incarcerated adolescent with development deficits to attain ego identity. To assess the relationship between gang membership and the identity development of the incarcerated adolescent, this study examined gang activity as a particular risk factor impacting identity development of incarcerated youth in South Africa. Tables, bibliography
Main Term(s): Effects of juvenile imprisonment; South Africa
Index Term(s): Adjustment to prison; Adolescent attitudes; Adolescents at risk; Effects of imprisonment; Gangs; Group dynamics; Juvenile inmates; Juvenile/Youth Gangs
Note: To access the full text PDF: 1) select the provided link; 2) from the Acta Criminologica Web site, select "Table of Contents"; 3) select the corresponding Volume and Issue (see the NCJRS abstract record for the exact Volume and Issue); 4) scroll the Table of Contents to the exact article; and 5) click on the "full text" icon Downloaded on February 13, 2008.
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