Dave Barrett

Dave Barrett, alumni distinguished professor in Clemson’s department of education and human development.
Image Credit: Clemson University

Dave Barrett, alumni distinguished professor in Clemson’s department of education and human development, was a featured speaker at the 2018 Workshop for Contributors to the National Juvenile Court Data Archive. The workshop was held in Greenville, South Carolina on May 31 and June 1, 2018.

The workshop focused on risk assessment for juveniles, information system modernization and racial ethnic disparities in juvenile justice. Barrett’s presentation summarized a long-term, large sample study on risk factors for juvenile delinquency and recidivism conducted in collaboration with South Carolina’s Office of Research and Statistics (now the Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs).

The presentation focused on the statistical importance of neglect and maltreatment in childhood and mental health history of impulsivity and aggression, and how these factors predict juvenile delinquency. Barrett detailed the direct and explicit nature of the study.

“We found early-appearing risk factors for juvenile delinquency are identifiable, measurable and nearly identical across ethnic groups,” Barrett said. “Just as importantly, we found that the focus should always be on strengthening and supporting families to increase the likelihood of positive impact on children and youth.”

Barrett said preparation for parenthood, responsibility for child rearing and commitment to the health and well-being of the young are important determinants of child social adjustment. The factors are among the strongest protective factors against juvenile delinquency and later criminal activity, according to Barrett.

The research team included Antonis Katsiyannis, alumni distinguished professor of special education at Clemson, and faculty from Texas A&M University and Rutgers University. The researchers were able to link state records on delinquency from the SC Department of Juvenile Justice with data from other state agencies, including the SC Departments of Social Services, Mental Health, Education, Health and Environmental Control, and SLED.

An important feature of the researchers’ study was their construction of a data set on the early experiences of a sample of approximately 200,000 youth. This sample was roughly split in half between youth with records of juvenile delinquency and a control group without histories of delinquency matched on birth year, gender and race. The control group allowed the research team to examine the relationships between early adverse experiences and the presence or absence of delinquency itself.

“We were able to examine the relationships between delinquent behavior and measures of important child personal and experiential variables,” Barrett said. “These included mental health history, maltreatment and foster care, as well as special education classifications.”

Results of Barrett and Katsiyannis’ study have been published in the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Remedial and Special Education, Learning and Individual Differences, Exceptional Children, Behavioral Disorders, and the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

The National Juvenile Court Data Archive houses the automated records of cases handled by courts with juvenile jurisdiction. It was established by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice to promote access to automated juvenile court data sets for juvenile justice research and policymaking efforts. The Archive provides juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, researchers and the public with the most detailed information available on the activities of the nation’s juvenile courts.