This article is based on a study that was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. We report on the learning profiles and education needs of a cohort of young offenders who were recruited for the study. The research was a national cross‐sectional survey of 301 young offenders who were resident in custodial settings or attending youth offending teams in the community. The young people were assessed using the WASI and the WORD measures to obtain psychometric information (IQ scores and reading/reading comprehension ages). One in five (20%) young people met the ICD‐10 criteria for mental retardation (IQ<70), while problems with reading (52%) and reading comprehension (61%) were common. Verbal IQ scores were found to be significantly lower than performance IQ scores, particularly in male offenders. It is clear from these results that a large proportion of juvenile offenders have a learning disability, as characterised by an IQ<70 and significantly low reading and reading comprehension ages. The underlying aetiology of this association is less clear and may be a consequence of both an increased prevalence of neurocognitive deficits and the impact of poor schooling. There is some evidence that developmental pathways may be different for boys compared with girls.
Journal of Children's Services – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2007
Keywords: Juvenile offenders; Learning disability; Learning impairment; Educational needs