Young offenders who work, don't attend school may be more antisocial

December 20, 2012

Many high school students work in addition to going to school, and some argue that employment is good for at-risk youths. But a new study has found that placing juvenile offenders in jobs without ensuring that they attend school may make them more antisocial.

The study, by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and the University of California, Irvine, appears in the journal Child Development.

While evidence suggests that working long hours during the school year has negative effects on adolescent among middle- and upper-income youths, much less is known about how employment during the school year affects high-risk adolescents, particularly with respect to .

To learn about the association between employment and antisocial behavior among high-risk youths, researchers studied about 1,350 serious juvenile offenders who were 14 to 17 years old at the beginning of the study. They used monthly information about employment, , and antisocial behavior over the course of five years; examples of antisocial behavior included beating up somebody, purposely destroying or damaging properly, and knowingly buying or selling stolen goods. The youths, most of whom were from low-income families, had been convicted of a felony or similarly serious non-felony offense (such as a misdemeanor or weapons offense). School was defined as high school, vocational school, GED programs, and college.

Going to school regularly without working was associated with the least antisocial behavior, and high-intensity employment (defined as more than 20 hours a week) was associated with diminished antisocial behavior only among youths who also attended school regularly. Youths who worked long hours and didn't attend school regularly were at the greatest risk for antisocial behavior, followed by youths who worked long hours and didn't go to school at all. These effects occurred during adolescence; by , working more than 20 hours a week was associated with lower antisocial behavior.

"Our results suggest caution in recommending employment in and of itself as a remedy for adolescents' antisocial behavior," according to Kathryn. Monahan, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, the study's lead researcher.

"As an intervention strategy during young adulthood, placing juvenile offenders in jobs may be a wise idea. But for adolescents of high school age, placing in jobs without ensuring that they also attend school may exacerbate, rather than diminish, their antisocial behavior."

Explore further: School absenteeism, mental health problems linked

Related Stories

School absenteeism, mental health problems linked

December 22, 2011

School absenteeism is a significant problem, and students who are frequently absent from school more often have symptoms of psychiatric disorders. A new longitudinal study of more than 17,000 youths has found that frequently ...

Recommended for you

Whether our speech is fast or slow, we say about the same

January 17, 2017

The purpose of speech is communication, not speed—so perhaps some new research findings, while counterintuitive, should come as no surprise. Whether we speak quickly or slowly, the new study suggests, we end up conveying ...

Who needs stress? We all do. Here's why

January 17, 2017

If you could do something to decrease your risk of memory failure, to increase your self-confidence, to be a better public speaker, to improve your brain, to help you deal with back pain, to bust out of your comfort zone, ...

Teens unlikely to be harmed by moderate digital screen use

January 13, 2017

Parents and pediatricians alike may worry about the effects of teens' screen time, but new findings from over 120,000 adolescents in the UK indicate that the relationship between screen time and well-being is weak at best, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.