The project titled
The project titled ‘Social and Economic Stress Child Neglect and Juvenile Delinquency’, written by Don Weatherburn, Bronwyn Lind, and Simon Ku (1999) was sponsored by the Criminology Research council, and submitted to the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The research project subject matter concentrate on finding the relationship that exist between child delinquency and social and economic stress, neglect and abuse. Other social and economic stress variables measures against crime in delinquent children include poverty, unemployment, single parent families, stability and crowded dwellings.
The research dichotomizes the research subject into urban child delinquency and those associated with rural dwellers. Four hypotheses were drawn for this research project, which includes: 1. There is a positive relationship between the level of social and economic stress in an area and its level of juvenile participation in crime 2. There is a positive relationship between the level of social and economic stress in an area and its rates of child neglect and abuse. 3.
The effects of social and economic stress on juvenile participation in crime are mediated mostly through the effects of social and economic stress on rates of child neglect and abuse. 4. The relationship posited in (3) holds up
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• Unemployment; where this has to do with the percentage of unemployed in the labor force; • Single parent families, measured as families with single parents and dependent siblings; • Residential stability, measured against the frequency in which a family relocates to another address within a given period of 5 years; and • Crowded dwellings, measured against the percentage of dwellings of more than 1. 5 residents per bedroom. The result further shows that juvenile participation in crime has a positive correlation with the rate of child neglect and abuse in urban centers.
It is found out that the increases in child neglect or poverty would be 466 for each additional 1,000 neglected children or 257 for each additional 1,000 poor families. For the findings for child delinquency in rural areas, the correlation is also positive with the above aforementioned variables. CRITIQUE OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT Research Design and Data Collection The research project utilized a survey research design, which is ex post facto in nature. The data utilized for the research study were basically secondary data that were derived from the 1991 census data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The adopted research design is adequate for this type of research, which is based on socioeconomic variables. The ex post facto research design gives the research the necessary information on how to collect the data from the research subjects who have evidence of the social variables under study. The data for the research was collected from the 1991 census figure for New South Wales. The researchers made use of postcode as unique keys to prevent a research subject from being selected more than once. This is a good way to prevent the situation of deriving wrong information from wrong collected data.
The researchers failed to conduct a primary sourcing of data, to have first hand information that would really validate the conclusion reached. Some of the relied data may be misleading in some cases where the data categorization was done with the first compiler with variables different from what the researcher is assuming. Though, it would be costlier and time consuming to embark on sourcing about 1,000 data from delinquents children. However, the sourcing of primary data would have made the degree of data validity very high, than one based on secondary data from a census figure, especially for this type of research.
Some of the research subject classified as urban or rural dwellers may not be permanent dwellers, thus an error of classification would have being incurred. However, suppose a primary data was collected for this study, question would be asked to determine the permanent dwelling place of the research subjects. Sample Size and Sampling Technique The collected sample for the study was relatively high. The researchers analyzed about 200 to 500 samples for each variable. The sample size is adequate, considering the total population on which the research is based on. The sample sizes were inconsistency for analyzing all the variables.
Some samples were selected for ‘child neglect’, different from the number selected for ‘children living in a single parent families’ etc. the researchers failed to adopt the same proportion of samples for the different variables to be tested. The sampling method utilized is not too scientific. A random sampling was conducted. The researchers only collected the postcode of every identified child with a delinquent record and included it as a research subject. Supposed a child is being influenced by other factors different from the one for which it is being listed against. This will water down the research conclusion.
The sampling technique adopted was faulty in the sense that no clear method for selecting the research subject was identified in the research work. Validity and Reliability of Data Analyses Tool The researchers did not conduct a pilot study to validate the data analyses tool. Prior to conducting the research they researchers should have carried out a pretest to see if the adopted data collection and analyses tool will give the same result whenever it is applied. Also, whether the data collection instrument is reliable to give the same actual measurement intended. Quantitative Data Analyses
A quantitative approach is adopted in analyzing the research data. A multiple linear regression analyses were used in analyzing the data separately for urban and rural dwellers. The multiple regression analysis is adequate since there are multiple variables to be tested. That is, to show the relationship between juvenile delinquency and neglect, single parent family, poverty, instability in residential home, crowdedness in apartment. To adequate measure these multiple variables and show their relationship, the multiple regression analyses is a well chosen statistical tool for this research study.
Independent / Dependent Variables The dependent variable for the research study is juvenile delinquency. There are many independent variables for this research study, which include child neglect, poverty, instability of children residence, over crowd homes, and child abuse. The relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable are well formed, and adequate for the research study. Hypothesis The 4 hypotheses constructed for this study are well structured. However, the researchers failed to recognize the fact that more than one causal factor may be responsible for child delinquency.
They ought to have formed alongside a hypothesis that tends to test to see how other causal factors or multiple factors will influence a child to be criminally inclined. For instance, a hypothesis that read ‘juvenile delinquency is not cause by a singular factor by a multi factor collection of variables’ this would have being tested along to show that whether no singular factor is responsible for juvenile delinquency. Strength and Weakness of the Study The research project is rich in literature review; the researchers took an extensive review of literature on the subject under study.
This goes to give read of the research go insight into what they subject matter entail. Another strength associated with this research study is that the researchers gave good definition and conceptualization of the various variables under study. The classification of causes of juvenile delinquency into urban and rural makes the research rich in the sense that readers will appreciate the fact that factors responsible for juvenile delinquency differs from what obtains in urban centers and those associated with rural areas.
Furthermore, the researchers presented their findings in a clear and unambiguous way, with good explanation backed up with facts derived from the data analyses. The weakness associated with the research lies in the sampling and sample size. This adopted method seem not too explicit, even though some explanation were given for this by the researchers the adopted method would seem complicated to some readers. Similarly, the data analyses adopted by researcher seem advance for lay man to decipher and comprehend.
Thus, the research data analyses would only be better interpreted by someone with practical and better knowledge of statistics and quantitative analyses. Recommended Way of Better Handling This Research Though, the adopted method and execution of the research work is of high standard given the social subject matter under study. However, certain aspects of the research could be improved upon to make the study more valid and comprehendible. The data collection could have being a primary data derived by the researchers themselves.
In this area this would have given the researchers the avenue to ask the research respondents other vital questions that would make the research have a more concrete conclusion. Furthermore, the tool for data collection should have being validated through a pretest of validity and reliability of the data collection tool adopted. In the sampling method adopted the total sample size utilized were not clearly stated. Thus, a better way of presenting this would have being tabulated since there are different samples from different categories of independent variables.
This makes it difficult to get a first interpretation of what is intended. With the use of tabulation it gives readers a better and quick understanding of facts surrounding the research samples.
Weatherburn, Don, Lind, Bronwyn & Ku, Simon (1997), “Social and Economic Stress Child Neglect and Juvenile Delinquency” Journal of Political Economic http://www. cjc. nsw. gov. au/bocsar1. nsf/files/r42. pdf/$file/r42. pdf. (27/03/08)