Evaluating the utility of ‘strength’ items when assessing the risk of young offenders [2018]

There is emerging recognition that positive or pro-social characteristics may lessen criminal propensity. There are now several adult and youth forensic instruments that include protective or strength components. Yet evidence supporting the protective capacities of these instruments with youth offending populations is still developing. This study aimed to identity the prevalence of strength items on the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory tool, and their relationships with risk and re-offending for a cohort of 212 multi-cultural Australian juveniles in custody. The prevalence of strengths in the sample was low, and differed by cultural group. Young people who possessed a strength yielded lower instrument total and domain scores and were more likely to be afforded a lower level of risk compared to youth without a strength. Moreover, youth who possessed a strength were significantly more likely to desist from re-offending. This association remained after controlling for level of risk. Findings point to the importance of strengths when assessing a young person’s risk for re-offending.

Stephane M. Shepherd, Susanne Strand, Jodi L. Viljoen & Michael Daffern
The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, Volume 29, 2018 – Issue 4