The presence of school drop out cases has provoked various research bodies to study the effects of the juvenile justice system with regard to graduation of high school education. Siegel (2008) asserts that reviewing the impact of juvenile justice system on graduation of high school education necessitates the need of coming up with a framework that would help to substantiate the indicators which depict whether the juvenile justice system holds its court processes and arrests programs efficiently and effectively. The presence of contradictory inferences among various criminological theories leaves a gap for more investigation on this topic. Hence, this paper uses the works of Sweeten to address the issue.
Thesis and Main Purpose
Sweeten (2006)seeks to outline the effects of court processes as well as arrests of juveniles in relation to the rate of school drop out by highlighting one key question: “Who will graduate?” Sweeten (2006) presents the central problem by coming up a non-directional hypothesis, which is addressed through quantitative as well as qualitative research design, and it reviews the characteristics of three theories based on the justice system. After reviewing the theories, Sweeten concludes that the past research studies leave a gap in the literature because they do not adequately addressed the question at hand. Consequently, Sweeten (2006) describes the three theories as follows:
- Labeling theory speculates that there is a positive correlation between court appearance/arrest and school drop out rate;
- Deterrence theory speculates that there is a negative correlation between court appearance/arrest and school drop out rate;
- Propensity theory speculates that the correlation between court appearance/arrest and school drop out rate is relative since it highly relies on the each student’s personality traits.
With these contradictory theories at hand, Sweeten (2006) seeks to address the topic in question by evaluating other theories. As a result, Sweeten evaluated a research study based on structural equation modeling, whose results showed that the correlation between court appearance/arrest and school drop out rate could be influenced by yet another variable: age. As such, Sweeten (2006) found out that the positive correlation between the court appearance/arrest and academic performance for younger delinquents [10-13 years] supersedes the positive correlation between court appearance/arrest for the elderly juvenile delinquents. However, Sweeten (2006) affirms that these findings could not be generalized since they were dependent on regions.
In a bid to eradicate this discrepancy, Sweeten (2006) outlines a longitudinal study that is based on probability sampling of participants across the country. This study, though, over sampled the youths from the minority group since their lifestyles are characterized by lack of social amenities. Sweeten (2006) aimed at reducing the discrepancy further by taking into account a number of constructs, including social status, economic status, and race/ethnicity of the juveniles while carrying out his research study. In spite the fact that his present research is based on a number of constructs between juvenile justice system and school drop out rate, Sweeten (2006) found out that the juvenile justice system and the rate of school dropout have a positive correlation, with first time offenders demonstrating a high dropout rate.
In answering the question of who will graduate, Sweeten (2006) tries to re-examine the role of the justice system with regard to educational achievement. Sweeten (2006) affirms that delinquency is a key factor in assessing the academic performance and high school graduation since graduation is facilitated by low levels of involvement with the justice system. More so, Sweeten asserts that various past studies have conducted a correlation research study constantly without taking due consideration of comprehensive variables involved in the study.
Strengths and Weakness
The strength of Sweeten’s works in evaluating the students who will graduate is based on a thorough investigation of qualitative and quantitative reviews of various articles, which indicate a positive correlation between justice system and school drop out. Thus, Sweeten (2006) recognizes biases in the previous research findings, and aims at ensuring accuracy and competence through the present research outcomes.
However, Sweeten (2006) admits the limitation of the study by pointing out that even though the age component was introduced in the present study, it could not clearly define the correlation between the justice system and the rate of school drop out of a younger offender on attaining the age of 18 to 19 years. Thus, age construct can lead to a premature dismissal of the relationship between the dependent variables. More so, the present research study, though having broad and deep literature on the topic, can be criticized on various grounds such as statistical grounds as well as specific procedures.
Siegel, L., & Welsh, B. (2008). Juvenile delinquency: theory, practice, and law. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Sweeten, G. (2006). Who will graduate? Disruption of high school education by arrest and court involvement. Justice Quarterly, 23 (4), 462-480.