A qualitative investigation of juvenile offenders
Rosenbaum, Lorena Albarran
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The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of adolescents at a juvenile justice boot camp facility and to provide counselor educators, counselors, and other professionals with a deeper awareness of juvenile offenders. This research study addressed (1) perceptions of the adolescents' struggles before entering the juvenile detention system, (2) experiences within a juvenile justice boot camp facility, and (3) the adolescents' future plans. In order to obtain an in-depth understanding of the juveniles' experiences and perceptions, a qualitative phenomenological approach was employed. The primary investigator conducted this study with a sample of youth cadets (n = 10) currently enrolled in a juvenile boot camp facility. Participants for the study were selected using purposeful sampling. Of the ten participants, there were three females and seven males. Participant ages ranged from 15 to 17 years old. Data sources were used to create emerging themes: five core themes were identified by the researcher and two outside data analysts. The emergent themes were centered on the lived experiences of participants. Themes included: (a) Compounding Offenses, (b) Relationships, (c) Debilitating Factors, (d) Lessons Learned, and (e)The Future. Findings of this study gave voice to individuals in a juvenile justice boot camp facility. This study provided a perspective on juveniles' personal feelings and views during their sentenced time in a boot camp. Future recommendations were suggested for counselors, counselor educators, and others working with individuals involved in the juvenile justice system. One recommendation was to include life skills such as career counseling, interpersonal skills counseling, communication skill building, and work ethics training in a boot camp setting. A second recommendation was to be cognizant of individual differences of each offender in the boot camp. In addition, future research should involve the adolescent's parents/guardians with an emphasis on their relationship.