Pritchard, C. and Williams, R., 2009. Does Social Work Make a Difference? A Controlled Study of Former `Looked-After-Children' and `Excluded-From-School' Adolescents Now Men Aged 16—24 Subsequent Offences, Being Victims of Crime and Suicide. Journal of Social Work, 9 (3), pp. 285-307.
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Summary: In the UK the outcomes of former `Looked-After-Children' (LAC)1 as young adults have generally caused concern, especially those highlighting their relatively high involvement in crime. Yet statutory right of LACs to continued support might have been expected to make a difference to their lives. Social work support should have impacted upon their social integration and this should, in turn, have led to a reduced involvement in crime. However, previous studies on former LAC used their age peers in the general population as a `control group' whereas another socially disadvantaged group would have been a more appropriate comparison. This study took another group of `socially disadvantaged' people, that is, former adolescent Permanently-Excluded-from-School (PEFS) young men, who had no statutory right to social work support, to compare with LAC men now aged 16—24. This enables us to ask the question, did social work make a difference between the two groups? The focus will be upon examining the young men's subsequent involvement in crime, either as offenders or victims, which are issues policy and public concern. The study compares a five-year cohort of former LAC adolescent males (n = 438), as Young Adults, with a control five-year cohort of former PEFS males (n = 215). We examine whether there were any differences between the cohorts as either offenders or victims of crime and whether there were any suicides amongst them. This was based upon an analysis of National Police data and the Home Office prediction of future crime with actual outcomes of the two groups. A Regional Suicide register was examined to determine any suicides over the period. It should be stressed that the study was totally records based, all individual identification markers were stripped from the data before analysis and total anonymity and confidentiality was maintained. Chi square tests were used to compare outcomes of levels of offending and being victims of crime. Epidemiological rates were used to compare violent deaths. • Findings: Despite the different entry referral points of the cohorts, they had similar social backgrounds. Subsequent offending rate by LAC was 44 percent, which was significantly less than the former PEFS (64%). The offences of PEFS were significantly more violent, including a murder rate more than 1670 times their peers in the general population. In regard to being victims of crime, whilst both LAC and PEFS had higher rates of being victims of crime than the general population, LAC men were significantly more often victims of sex and violent crimes, having a murdered rate 176 times their age peers. However, there were no suicides amongst LAC but the PEFS suicide rate was 133 times that of their peers in the general population. • Applications : These results indicate that, despite starting from a more disadvantaged situation, former LAC did significantly better than the PEFS young men. Whilst the LAC rates of `victimhood' shows their continuing relative vulnerability, the outcomes of the PEFS indicate another group of socially excluded people who require at least as much preventative support as former LAC. Overall, the LAC results indicate that Social Work support made a positive difference in the LAC outcomes.
|Uncontrolled Keywords:||criminality; "Excluded-from-School"; "Looked-After-Children"; suicide|
|Group:||School of Health and Social Care > Centre for Social Work and Social Policy|
|Deposited By:||Ms Emma Crowley|
|Deposited On:||29 Jun 2009 12:34|
|Last Modified:||07 Mar 2013 15:08|
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