The predictive utility of three delinquency proneness measures



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The Impetus for this study stemmed from the recognition that one approach to delinquency prevention requires the early identification of children predisposed to delinquency. Two instruments devised by Kvaraceus, the Delinquency Proneness Scale and the Delinquency Proneness Check List, were used along with a five-point Global Rating Scale to evaluate the efficacy of employing brief screening devices to detect the delinquency prone. In addition to assessing relationships among these three measures, their efficiency was evaluated in differentiating those children who after a three year follow up had become juvenile offenders. The Junior Personality Quiz and Rogers Test of Personality Adjustment were selected to explore the personality correlates of delinquency proneness. Further aspects of the study were to provide additional normative data on the two Kvaraceus' measures and to contrast these with comparable studies. The sample was composed of 219 white males, 257 white females, 27 Negro males, and 41 Negro females. All were drawn from sixth grade classes in twelve elementary schools in Wichita, Kansas. The Negro sample was an ancillary inclusion and was discussed only in the initial group comparisons. All subjects were administered the Delinquency Proneness Scale and were assessed on the Delinquency Proneness Check List by their teachers, who also rated them on the Global Rating Scale. The personality measures were administered to 82 white males and 98 white females from which 41 males and 49 females were randomly assigned to a cross-validation group. Three years following the initial testing, the Juvenile Division records of the Wichita Police Department were made available and notations concerning juvenile offenses committed by any child in the study were cataloged. These children in the study were referred to as the offenders. The three delinquency proneness measures were intercorrelated; sex and race differences were obtained on these three measures; and mean Delinquency Proneness Scale scores on this and other studies were contrasted. Correlations were obtained between the Delinquency Proneness Scale scores and the twelve Junior Personality Quiz factors and the five scores of the Rogers Test of Personality Adjustment. Those factors on which correlations approached significance in the preliminary group were retained for analysis in the cross-validation group. The scores on the three delinquency proneness measures for the white male offenders were compared with the scores of the white male non-offenders. These white male offenders were then matched on the Delinquency Proneness Scale score with white male non-offenders and differences in personality scores were evaluated. Sex, race, and seasonal comparisons were made on the incidences of offenses. The associations among the three delinquency proneness measures were direct but in general were sufficiently low to permit their use as independent instruments. On the Delinquency Proneness Scale and the Delinquency Proneness Check List, Negro children scored significantly higher than white children. On the Delinquency Proneness Scale, white females scored higher than white males, in opposition to the trend in other studies. On the Delinquency Proneness Check List, white females scored lower than white males. Females of both races scored lower than males on the Global Rating Scale. In comparison with a combined group of seventh, eighth, and ninth grade children, the males in the present study scored significantly lower on the Delinquency Proneness Scale than males in this older group, contrary to the reported decrease in Delinquency Proneness Scale score with increased school grade. For the females, the reverse obtained. The actual score differences were too slight to have any practical effect upon the comparability. On the cross-validation between the Delinquency Proneness Scale and the Junior Personality Quiz, there was a low association (p<.05) between delinquency proneness and 'dislike of education' for the male sample. For the female sample, there was a moderate association (p<.005) between 'emotional sensitivity' and delinquency proneness. A moderate relationship (p <.005) was found for females between 'personal inferiority' and delinquency proneness on the Rogers Test of Personality Adjustment. There was a higher percentage of Negro than white offenders regardless of sex. The higher percentage of male offenders regardless of race in this study is in accord with the national sex ratio of five male to one female offenders. There was a dramatic decrease in the incidences of offenses during the summer months. The difference between offenders and non-offenders was significant in the expected direction on the Delinquency Proneness Check List (p<.025) and the Global Rating Scale (p<.025). When the Delinquency Proneness Scale score was held constant, the male non-offenders were characterized by such personality traits as 'more sociable,' 'easy-going,' 'warm-hearted,' 'dominant,' and 'competitive,' while male offenders were characterized as 'rather rigid,' 'disliking groups,' less 'dominant,' and less 'competitive.' In summary, the three delinquency proneness measures employed in this study were positively related but their relationships were of a low order. The distributions of the delinquency measures in the study were equivalent to those reported by other investigators. Males of both races and Negros of both sexes tended to score higher on the delinquency proneness measures. The predictive utility of the three delinquency proneness measures in discriminating those youngsters who eventually did commit offenses was too low to have practical significance. The difficulty in establishing a behavioral criterion for 'delinquency' which would include a large number of non-apprehended offenses in the supposedly non-offender group, is a major obstacle in evaluating the 'true' usefulness of these measures. If one assumes that the Delinquency Proneness Scale does measure proneness to delinquency, the personality studies and indirectly the decline in offenses during the summer months, indicates that school problems present the most difficulty to the delinquency prone males. The delinquency prone females have difficulties focused in feelings of insecurity, inferiority, and inadequacy.