Risk factors for overall recidivism and severity of recidivism in serious juvenile offenders
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This study was aimed at finding risk factors that predict both overall recidivism and severity of recidivism in serious juvenile offenders. Seventy static and dynamic risk factors associated with family characteristics, peers, psychopathology, substance abuse, psychological factors, and behavior during treatment were assessed with the Juvenile Forensic Profile in a sample of 728 juvenile offenders. Official reconviction data were used to register recidivism with a minimum time at risk of 2 years. Severity of offending was categorized according to the maximum sentence for the offense committed combined with expert opinion. Several risk factors for recidivism were found: past criminal behavior (number of past offenses, young age at first offense, unknown victim of past offenses), conduct disorder, family risk factors (poor parenting skills, criminal behavior in the family, a history of physical and emotional abuse), involvement with criminal peers, and lack of treatment adherence (aggression during treatment, lack of coping strategies). Having an unknown victim in past offenses, criminal behavior in the family, lack of treatment adherence, and lack of positive coping strategies were predictive of serious (violent) recidivism. The results are discussed in terms of their use for risk assessment and in improving treatment effect. Targeting poor parenting skills, involvement in criminal environment, lack of treatment adherence, and problematic coping strategies should reduce the severity of recidivism.