A study focused on basic skills and crime in 2 sample groups born in
1970 and 1958 identified an initial striking finding. A massive increase
was reported in police contact and offending in the younger group, especially
young men. 25% from the 1970 group had been arrested compared with 5%
from the 1958 group.
RM message: With research you should be prepared for the unexpected!
A significant association between repeat offending and poor literacy
or number skills was identified. This is backed up by the Basic Skills
Agency’s figures for 2002. Tests on new prisoners showed 48% had
difficulty with reading and 65% with number work.
Source: Basic Skills & Crime , Samantha Parsons, Centre for Longitudinal
Studies, Institute of Education, 2002
RM message: social work and social care needs to draw on research
from a wide range of disciplines
Substance abuse and young offenders
A study of 293 young people involved with Youth Offending Teams in
England and Wales identified the members as having committed multiple
- Amongst the group substance abuse was very high. Over 85% had used
cannabis, alcohol and tobacco. Less than 20% had used heroin or crack
cocaine (although the figure is much higher than in the general population)
- There was a greater association between alcohol, tobacco and cannabis
use and offending than other drugs
- Key factors associated with both substance abuse and offending include,
disliking and being excluded from school, lack of positive coping
mechanisms and expecting to get into trouble again
Source: Substance abuse amongst young offenders,
Richard Hammersley, Louise Marsland and Marie Reid, Home Office, 2003,
Social exclusion and the onset of disability
Little is understood about the process of becoming disabled: who is
most at risk, how it affects their income, and the impact on the rest
of the family. This study, by London School of Economics that aimed
to, understand better the relationship between the onset of disability
and social exclusion for people of working age found that:
- The majority of disabled people experience the onset of their health
problem or impairment during adulthood.
- People in the poorest fifth of the income distribution are two-and-a-half
times more likely to become disabled during any year than those in
the top fifth. Other indicators of disadvantage, for example educational
qualifications or occupational group. The risk of onset.
- The average fall in income associated with becoming disabled is
less than might be expected, because many are already on a low income.
For people not initially in employment, greater benefit entitlement
can result in a small overall increase in income.
- Someone becoming disabled also affects other members of the household.
In single-earner couples, even where it is not the earner who becomes
disabled, one in five leaves employment. In some cases this is to
take on new caring responsibilities.
- The researcher concludes that three policy areas could be enhanced:
the health inequalities agenda, to reduce the risk of becoming disabled
among the worst off; job retention schemes, to reduce the risk of
leaving employment among those who become disabled; and benefits for
carers, to give greater recognition to the contribution made by them.
Source: Being and becoming: social exclusion and the onset of disability,
by Tania Burchardt, is published as CASE report 21. London School of
Economics, accessed from Joseph Rowntree Foundation website 11/03 http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/n23.asp
Children and domestic violence
Over 50% of children from backgrounds of domestic violence
have behavioural problems (such as aggression, undercontrolled or overcontrolled
behaviour, or antisocial behaviour) which reach clinical levels or require
some form of intervention.
The aim of the study was to assess the psychological adjustment of
children previously exposed to demestic violence by examining the behavioural
problems, social competence, reponses to conflict, anxiety levels, and
reading skills of these children. The sample consisted of 79 children,
aged 6 to 12 years, all of whom had recently resided with their mothers
at one of ten women's shelters. 22 children from this sample were compared
with 22 control group children, matched for age, sex, socioeconomic
status and reading age, but who had no history of domestic violence.
This study was conducted in Australia.
Source: The Psychological Functioning of Children from Backgrounds
of Domestic Violence by Mathias et al, The Australian Psychologist,
1995, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 47-56.
Reproduced from Child Care Information System (v2.1) from
Institute of Public
Monitoring poverty and social exclusion 2002
The New Policy Institute with support from the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation produces annual reports of indicators of poverty
and social exclusion. The data is the most comprehensive and up-to-date
available. Here are some key indicators from the 2002 report:
- The most commonly used threshold of low income is 60% of median
income. In 2001/02, before deducting housing costs, this equated to
£187 per week for a couple with no children, £114 for
a single person, £273 for a couple with two children and £200
for a lone parent with two children.
- In 2001/02, 12½ million people were living on incomes below
this income threshold. This represents a drop of 1½ million
- The numbers of people on relative low incomes remained broadly unchanged
during the 1990s after having doubled in the 1980s.
- The number of children living in households below 60% of median
income was 3.8 million in 2001/02. This represents a drop of 0.6 million
- Children are one and a third times more likely to live in a low
income household than adults.
- 2 million children live in workless households.
- People of Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and African ethnicity are
twice as likely to be out of work and wanting work compared with white
- Although the rate of permanent exclusions for black pupils fell
by a fifth between 1998/99 and 1999/00, they were still four times
more likely to be excluded than Whites.
- Black young adults are seven times as likely as white young adults
to be in prison.
- Asians are three times more likely to report that their quality
of life is greatly affected by the fear of crime than people on average.
- In 1999/00, 1¼ million pensioners had no income other than
the state pension, unchanged since at least 1994/95.
- The proportion of elderly people aged 75 and over who receive support
from social services to help them live at home is now two thirds of
what it was at the peak in 1994. County councils and unitary authorities
appear to support far fewer households than either urban or Welsh
- A quarter of men and three fifths of women aged 60 and over feel
unsafe going out at night, unchanged from a decade ago.
Policy Institute with support from the Joseph
Inequalities in Mental Health: A Systematic Review,
2003, Dr. David Melzer, Public Health and Primary Care, University of
- Common mental disorders (including depression, anxiety and certain
other psychiatric syndromes) are linked to markers of lower social
- The excess of common mental disorders is NOT well described by occupational
social class in the general population. More specific relevant social
position markers include unemployment or economic inactivity, poorer
material circumstances and less education.
- The large contribution of the common disorders to morbidity and
disability in working age adults justifies priority being given to
addressing mental health inequalities within social and economic policy.
- There is evidence that common mental disorders are at least as prevalent
in ethnic minorities as in the general population, and in some cases
may be more prevalent. However, the dramatic differences in prevalence
reported from clinical settings for some groups and disorders are
not evident in population surveys for the common disorders. Research
up to now has been insufficient and inadequate to provide unequivocal
guidelines for policy, but the additional problems of ethnic minorities
need to be specifically addressed in programmes to identify and treat
common mental disorders at all levels.
Source: Was on DH website, referred to on
DH - Research on Inequalities in Health
How to carry out research with people with learning difficulties
A report was commissioned in response to the Government White Paper
People”, which showed the need for research among people with
The research aimed to find out what life is like for people with learning
difficulties, and what they want. It is a good example of a piece of
research was a partnership between a university and a user-led organisation.
The report is presented in plain English and discusses an important
subject – researching how to do research with a particular group
People with learning disabilities were involved at all stages of the
The study found out that the way to start to ask the questions is:
- Spend a day training the people who are going to ask the questions.
People with learning difficulties will run some of the training.
- Send a letter to all of the people you want to talk to. This will
be written in a way that is easy to understand.
- Before you visit to ask the questions, first check people understand
what you are trying to do and find out if they are happy to take part.
- You need to find out if they want someone to be with them and if
they are happy for someone to help them answer some of the questions.
- It is important for the people asking the questions to remember
some key points:
o Unless the person with learning difficulties cannot talk at all,
ask THEM the questions and NOT the support person.
o Let the support person help to explain things, and help answer the
o questions sometimes, but don’t let them take over
o Remember there are some things people do not want to say when a
support person is there
o Explain clearly what the questions mean – use the picture
cards to help, and try asking the question in a different way if needed.
o Allow plenty of time for each question – make sure the question
has been understood.
Source: Learning Difficulties Research - Report on finding out the
best way for the Department of Health to do the research, Eric Emerson,
Institute for Central Health Research England, Lancaster University
and Central England People First, 2003. See also Major
survey of people with learning difficulties: final report to be published
Child abuse and maternal depression
Child physical, sexual or emotional abuse is significantly
more likely to be present in families with depressed mothers than in
families where mothers are not depressed.
The aim of the study was to determine whether there is an association
between child abuse and maternal depression. The sample consisted of
116 mothers of children currently on social workers' caseloads. These
mothers were interviewed and assessed for levels of depression. Case
records were examined for the existence of actual or suspected abuse
and neglect, using agency-based criteria. This study was conducted in
Source: Double Jeopardy: the link between child abuse and maternal
depression in child and family social work by Sheppard in Child
and Family Social Work (1997) Vol 2, pp 91-107.
Reproduced from Child Care Information System (v2.1) from
Institute of Public
Evaluation of a 52-week domestic violence court-mandated U.S. intervention
Data from in-depth interviews that was part of a larger research study
identified the most helpful in domestic violence intervention were primarily
relational ones, such as group support and therapist/facilitator alliances,
and secondarily, specific strategies of handling anger and other emotions,
and interpersonal communication.
Source: Rosenberg, M. (2003) Voices from the group: domestic violence
offenders' experience of intervention, Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment
and Trauma, 7(1/2), pp.305-317.
- A study exploring the needs and problems of the diverse communities
of older people in Slough in relation to information, advice and advocacy
found that older people
- valued information that was topic-based, rather than the agency-based
information that was more frequently offered.
- had diverse approaches to obtaining information. Different modes
and styles of information suited people at different times and in
relation to different topics
- desired continuity of contact, to avoid having to retell their
story to new people
- were not familiar with the concept of advocacy
- preferred solutions that included: an information bank to provide
a comprehensive and updated source of information, and an information
centre to provide a point of contact for older people
Source: Older people’s perspectives: Devising information,
advice and advocacy services, Ann Quinn, Angela Snowling and Pam
Denicolo, published by the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation, 2003