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Male criminal offenders’ experiences of schooling Cory, David Robert 1995

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M A L E CRIMINAL OFFENDERS' EXPERIENCES OF SCHOOLING by DAVID ROBERT CORY B.P.E., The University of Calgary, 1986 B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Educational Studies Faculty of Education We accept this thesis as conforming to thejequired standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A October 1995 © David Robert Cory, 1995 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT In-depth interviews using a Grounded Theory framework coupled with the Constant Comparative Method of data analysis were used to examine the schooling experiences of male criminal offenders. The subjects were four white males who had become involved in delinquent activities while in their adolescence during their school years. The findings indicate that factors associated with the subjects' families were the most influential in predisposing the subjects to alienation from the process of schooling and to involvement in delinquency. Some school based factors such as significant teachers and extra-curricular activities may serve to promote attachment to the schooling process. i i Table of Contents Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i Acknowledgement v List of Figures v i C H A P T E R 1 Introduction 1 C H A P T E R 2 Review of the Literature 5 School Failure and Dropping Out 5 A l i e n a t i o n 7 Social Class 9 Family 12 Qualitative Studies of Delinquency 13 Gaps in the Literature 16 Statement of the Problem 17 C H A P T E R 3 Methodology 18 Subject Selection 18 Subject Profiles 19 Joseph 19 Paul 22 Sundance 24 Claude 26 The Interview 28 Grounded Theory and the Constant Comparative Method of Data Analysis 30 C H A P T E R 4 Findings 35 Family 35 Inconsistent Care 36 Abuse 38 Family Value of Schooling 39 Transition to School 40 Transience 41 Responsibility for Family 42 Alienat ion from Family 43 Suicide 45 School ing 46 School Culture 47 Grade Retention 48 Extracurricular Activities 49 i i i Attitude Toward School 50 Attitude Toward Others 52 Self Perception 53 Significant Teachers .55 Atti tude Toward Authori ty 58 Al ienat ion from Schooling 59 Delinquency 63 Skipp ing 63 Vio lence 64 Substance Abuse • 65 Theft : 67 Peers and Leadership 68 Discussion 70 School Failure and Dropping Out 71 Alienation from the Process of Schooling 72 Strain Theory 77 Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory of Delinquency Product ion 77 Social Class 78 Family 79 Contradictions 80 C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions 81 Family 82 School ing 82 Support for Existing Theories of Delinquency 83 Limitations of the Study 84 Implications for Theory 85 Implications for Practice 86 S u m m a r y 87 B I B L I O G R A P H Y 88 A P P E N D I X 1 Introduction to the Research 92 A P P E N D I X 2 Letter of Permission 93 A P P E N D I X 3 Certificate of Approval 94 A P P E N D I X 4 Interview Consent Form 95 A P P E N D I X 5 Interview Schedule and Protocol 96 A P P E N D I X 6 Example of Coded Transcript ..97 iv A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T Many thanks to all the people who made the completion of this project possible: Dr. N e i l Sutherland, Dr. Jane Gaskell, Dr. Frank Echols, Dr. Jean Barman, Hendrik Hoekema, Joseph, Sundance, Paul, Claude, and last but certainly not least, Benjamin, Becky, and Jil l . LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Needed in Research on Schooling/Delinquency 3 Figure 2. Themes and Elements 34 vi CHAPTER 1 Introduction Many factors affect the way schooling is experienced by individual students. Factors such as family background, social class, and parental involvement are important to the schooling process and its impact upon students. Family and school are two key social institutions responsible for imparting the norms and values essential for lawful societal existence. To understand how these two institutions act and interact to 'produce' law abiding or law breaking individuals requires an examination of the schooling/delinquency relationship. The relationship between youths' experiences of schooling and their involvement in delinquency has been traditionally studied from one of two perspectives. One perspective is primarily concerned with the experience of schooling and its effect to predispose some students to become involved in delinquency. The other perspective is primarily interested in youth involvement in delinquency and does not always include an anaylsis of schooling. Neither of the two perspectives satisfactorily address the role of schooling in delinquency. Studies of delinquency focus on youth involvement in crime which is commonly termed 'juvenile delinquency' or just 'delinquency.' Youths become involved in delinquency when they are of school age and they are usually involved in schooling during this time of their lives. Therefore, one may expect that research on delinquency would include an analysis of the role of schooling. This is, however, not always the case. If schooling is included in the analysis, little insight is provided into how schooling is implicated in a young person's involvement in delinquency, if at all. At the same time, studies of schooling, which examine problems known to be associated with delinquency (such as school failure, 1 dropping out, alienation, social class and, family factors), tend to not take their analyses further to include how youths become involved in delinquency (Figure 1). Much of the research on the relationship between schooling and delinquency is quantitative in nature and employs large scale national data bases. This research describes the experiences of students in terms such as, "interactions between variables" (Farrington, et al, 1986; Hartnagel & Tanner, 1982; Hagan & Palloni, 1990; Farnworth & Leiber, 1989; Messner & Krohn, 1990; Agnew, 1990; Riley, 1987; Jarjoura, 1993). These studies are important in the identification of various factors that are significant in the schooling/delinquency relationship. However, these studies tend not to clarify how the various factors interact to result in delinquency. For further clarification of how variables are related in the schooling/delinquency relationship, qualitative literature on both delinquency and schooling/education was examined. Delinquency researchers, in their studies of the lives of persons who became involved in delinquency, tend not to sufficiently address the individual's schooling experiences. Schooling/education researchers, while interested in the schooling experiences of delinquent students, tend not to address the experience of that individual with respect to their involvement in delinquency. This study is an examination of the schooling experiences of four male criminal offenders ranging in age from 23 to 41 years. They all became involved in delinquency as adolescents or earlier, during which time they were involved in the schooling process. My interest in and initial contact with criminal offenders resulted from working as an employment counsellor for the parole service for 2.5 years. During that time I assisted my 'clients' with 2 Delinquency Research Analyses of youth involvement in delinquency Sparse analysis of the role of schooling Schooling/Education Research I Analyses of problems/factors associated with delinquency Sparse analysis of relationship between schooling and delinquency Needed: an analysis providing insight into the role of schooling in involvement in delinquency Figure 1. Needed in Research on Schooling/Delinquency 3 access to educational upgrading and training, job search skills, and suitable employment. Many of them required academic remediation and upgrading. I became curious about their schooling experiences and wondered what role, if any, schooling played in their involvement in delinquency and later crime. By telling their own stories, the criminal offenders who volunteered to participate in this study have added to an understanding of how their experiences of schooling affected them and how those experiences might be related to their involvement in crime. Through in-depth interviews and analysis of the transcripts using Grounded Theory and the Constant Comparative Method of data analysis, primary themes were generated from the subjects' experiences. The findings of the study serve to corroborate existing research findings on schooling and delinquency. The findings also add to existing knowledge using data directly from some of the individuals whose lives have been affected by delinquency and crime. 4 CHAPTER 2 Review of the Literature There are two areas of research that establish the relevance of this study from their unique perspectives. These two areas of study are: 1) schooling/education and 2) delinquency. While both are primarily based on the tenets of sociology, the former tends to be found within studies of Education and the latter tends to be found within studies of Criminology or Sociology. They both address the schooling/delinquency relationship. In reviewing the literature in these two areas of research, several key variables were identified that appear to be involved in the schooling/delinquency relationship. These variables include school failure and dropping out, alienation, social class, and relationship to the family. Each of these variables will be discussed, the gaps in the literature will be identified and the relevance for this study will be established. School Failure and Dropping Out A primary factor that is frequently identified in delinquency research is school failure (low streams, grade retention, low grades, and dropping out). According to West (West, 1975a in West, 1984, p. 147 ), dozens of independent studies across cultural and linguistic boundaries have repeatedly found school failure to be among the most persistent and strongest correlates of both out-of-school official juvenile delinquency, in-class misbehaviour and self-reported delinquent behaviour (Polk & Shafer, 1972; West, 1975; West, 1984). West (1984, p. 148) found that even when reading scores, IQ, sex, age, parental socioeconomic status, school neighborhood, and mother's aspirations are controlled, the correlation remains quite high, in the .30 to .48 range. A Canadian national survey, which compared drop outs and high 5 school graduates 18 to 20 years of age, supports the relationship between school failure and delinquency. Findings from this survey indicate that the overall rate of criminal conviction among drop outs (12%) was four times that among graduates (3%) (Devereaux, 1993, p.47). Considering the findings of this literature in total, the body of research points to school failure as a major factor associated with the schooling/delinquency relationship. Although many quantitative studies clearly associate school failure with increased delinquency rates, it does not provide insight into the interaction or relationship between these variables. A significant contribution to understanding the relationship beween delinquency and dropping out was made by Jarjoura (1993) in his analysis of a longitudinal study of students. Jarjoura (1993) used data from the American National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which includes interviews with 12,686 youths beginning in 1979. Jarjoura found that dropouts were more likely to have higher levels of involvement in delinquency than graduates. However, Jarjoura argues that delinquency cannot be adequately explained by the fact that they dropped out because there are many factors known to be associated with dropping out as well as delinquency (Jarjoura, 1993, p. 167). Some of these factors are prior misconduct (i.e. prior arrests, years sexually active, suspensions from school) and demographic factors such as gender, race and age (Jarjoura, 1993, p. 167). To further understand how or why students become involved in delinquency an analysis is required which clarifies the ways in which the variables associated with both dropping out and delinquency inter-relate . Overall, the research correlating the two variables school failure and dropout rates with delinquency indicates a strong association between the variables. However, school failure and dropping out are considered by some researchers not as causal variables but as indicators of other influential factors such as alienation (Mau, 1985), lower social class, 6 and unsupportive family background (West, 1984, p. 148). The following discussion will address each in sequence. Alienation According to the education literature, alienation from the process of schooling has been identified as a precursor to school failure, dropping out and delinquency (Mau, 1985; Baker, 1991; Streeter & Franklin, 1991; Stevenson & Ellsworth, 1991; Fine & Rosenberg, 1983; Calabrese & Poe, 1990). Further, it is suggested by many researchers that the critical issue of school dropout is often the result of alienation; when students feel powerless, meaningless, normless or estranged in and from school (Mau, 1985; Baker, 1991; Streeter & Franklin, 1991; Stevenson & Ellsworth, 1991; Fine & Rosenberg, 1983; Calabrese & Poe, 1990). While delinquency researchers generally agree that dropping out is an important variable in the schooling/delinquency relationship, there is little attention paid in the delinquency literature to what factors precipitate dropping out. Jarjoura (1993), who is a delinquency researcher, makes the following observation in reference to youths who drop out: The data provide no clue as to what about school is unappealing for these youths. Some common complaints about school, though, include that it is boring, unchallenging, and that youths are not learning anything.... Because of overcrowding in the schools, they often may feel alienated and anonymous, (p. 168) This passage exemplifies how some delinquency researchers tend to simply refer to schooling variables associated with dropping out rather than include an analysis of these variables. Educational researchers, in contrast, focus their attention on the role of schooling variables in dropping out, especially school processes, practices and procedures (Weis et al, 7 1989; Natriello, 1987; Beauchemin, 1989). Some educational researchers also focus on non-school influences involved in dropping out such as family background and social class (Heath and McLaughlin, 1993; Donmoyer and Koss, 1993; Lakebrink, 1989; Corbett, 1990, Barrett, 1989). Alienation has been identified as being an important factor in the schooling/delinquency relationship by both education and delinquency researchers. Alienation is associated with several school based processes, practices and procedures. First of all, the way in which a school is organized or the particular bureaucracy within a school may determine the amount of control students have over their own learning process and also determine the extent to which procedures are rigid and formalized (Hoy et al, 1983; Calabrese, 1989). Mau (1985) administered 987 questionnaires to high school students. They revealed that sources of alienation were poor academic performance, placement in general (versus university) curriculum tracks, poor relationships with teachers, and relationships with peers with counter-school norms (p.25). Grade retention or repeating a grade was also identified as being highly correlated with alienation (Rumberger, 1987, p. 110). Stevenson and Ellsworth (1991) interviewed 20 dropouts and found out that many experienced alienation from schooling because of a lack of caring or support by adults at the school (i.e. teachers, administrators and counsellors) and the vast majority felt alienated because they were older than their classmates as result of repeating a grade (p.280). School organization, academic performance, curriculum tracking, poor teacher relationships, peers with counter-school norms, grade retention, are all factors found to be highly associated with the experience of alienation from the process of schooling. Alienation has been associated with the same school based factors that have concurrently been associated with delinquency. Educational researchers have found alienation 8 to be associated with factors such as poor achievement, dropping out, violence (Newmann, 1981), sexual promiscuity, vandalism (Wynne, 1978), substance abuse (Crase, 1981) and lack of motivation (Mackey & Appleman, 1984). While educational researchers have expanded the understanding of the role of schooling in alienation, they do not extend their analyses to include discussions of the connection between alienation and delinquency. Delinquency researchers Hartnagel and Tanner (1982), found alienation from school to be a significant predictor of theft, vandalism, drinking, and school rebellion in their administration of self-report questionnaires to 733 junior and senior high school students. They do not, however, elaborate on the connection between delinquency and an individual's experience of the schooling process. Social Class The importance of social class as a contributing factor to delinquency has been recognized since theories of delinquency were first postulated. One of these early formulations was Merton's (1938) Strain Theory. Merton argued that all classes share the same cultural goals of wealth and status but that youth from lower classes recognize that they face barriers to attaining those goals. Strain Theory posits that an individual experiences a dysjunction between universal goals and access to the institutionalized means for the attainment of these goals (Farnworth & Leiber, 1989, p.264). Individuals who experience this dysjuncture may then turn to illegal means of achieving their goals. Cohen (1955), criticized Merton's Strain Theory by suggesting that it only applied to adults. He argued that Merton's theory implied individuals became involved in utilitarian crime to attain wealth and status but that adolescents often engaged in economically senseless crime such as vandalism, petty theft and malicious attacks on persons. In his analysis of working-9 class boys in high school, Cohen (1955), modified Strain Theory to specifically explain delinquent behaviour by suggesting that these adolescents undergo a psychological reaction to middle-class values. They then adopt values that are antithetical to middle-class values and this, in turn, leads to law-breaking acts, often committed in groups or gangs. Farnworth and Leiber (1989) studied Strain Theory by analyzing self-report data from 1614 youths. They found empirical support for Strain Theory as originally operationalized by Merton and argued that detractors misinterpreted Merton's original intention (p.263). Strain theory is helpful in providing a theory that places the youth's experience in a social context, but it reveals little about the actual experiences of the youths themselves and nothing about their experiences of schooling. To better understand the actual experiences of youths from lower social classes in a social context the literature on 'at-risk' or 'disaffected' students is helpful (Heath and McLaughlin, 1993; Lakebrink, 1989; Donmoyer and Koss, 1993). Heath and McLaughlin (1993) spent five years collecting qualitative data on 60 different community based organizations which worked with approximately 24,000 youth. Over 90% of these groups were located in communities suffering from poverty, crime, severe ethnic tensions, teenage pregnancies, and broken families. While a great deal of the analysis focussed on issues relating to gender and ethnicity, the book concluded that youth require opportunities to "build their own identities" and "create the terms of their own existence" to have a sense of meaning and belonging within an alienating urban environment (p. 10). The authors were quite clear that their intention was to focus on non-school factors and, therefore, they did not include an analysis of schooling. Therefore, while this literature delves into the actual experiences of youths from lower social classes, it falls short of providing insight into the actual schooling experiences of youths from lower classes. 10 Another theory developed by delinquency researchers which is based on social class is the "Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory of Delinquency Production" (Colvin and Pauly, 1983). This theory was examined in a study by Messner and Krohn (1990) in which they analyzed data obtained from 2,252 junior and senior high school students. Colvin and Pauly (1983) suggested that the working class is divided into "fractions" which are differentiated according to the type of control exerted over the labour process. Workers in the lowest fraction are controlled by a coercive compliance structure which depends on the use of applying or threatening sanctions like termination. Workers in fraction two are controlled by a utilitarian compliance structure in which material rewards are adequate to maintain control over the workers. Workers in fraction three are controlled by means of a normative compliance structure which relies on a moral incentive to perform at a certain standard on the job. These are important because, according to the theory, parents often subject their children to the same type of compliance structure they are exposed to at work. Coercive family compliance structures erode bonds to the family. According to Colvin and Pauly, this results in weak parental bonds, frequent associations with delinquent peers, and high levels of delinquent involvement (p.305). In contrast, Messner and Krohn (1990, p.325) concluded that the indicators of class position based on the neo-Marxist reconceptualization are not particularly important predictors of family socialization techniques or of delinquent involvement. Tittle and Meier (1990) state that most criminological data collected prior to the 1950's focussed on demonstrating strong social class differences between delinquents and nondelinquents. In turn, reliance on these findings became the basis for several theories of delinquency (p.271). Much controversy followed the correlation between lower social class and delinquency and many researchers have focussed on the relationship between the two. According to Tittle and Meier (1990, p.272), findings indicate that there might well be specific conditions under which social class and delinquency are related. They go on to conclude that 11 based on their meta-analysis of studies of the social class/delinquency relationship, that it would be erroneous to conclude that a social class/delinquency relationship is not specifiable. It is, however, accurate to suggest that it has not yet been specified (p.293). While lower social class appears to be associated with delinquency, the conditions under which the relationship occurs have still not been clearly determined. Family The importance, in the literature, of family as a factor in the schooling/delinquency relationship is exemplified in studies focussing on family attachment and commitment to one's family. Hirschi's (1969) Social Control Theory is based on family as a social structure. This theory is mainly an attempt to explain why some youths do not become involved in crime. In this theory, the family, like the school, is considered to be an important socializing institution in the prevention of delinquent behaviour. If an individual's attachment or commitment to the family is weak or broken then the probability of delinquency increases (Sampson & Laub, 1993, p.65). Sampson and Laub (1993) continue by proposing that 4 factors will increase the likelihood of delinquency: (1) erratic, threatening, and harsh/punitive discipline by both mothers and fathers, (2) low parental supervision, (3) parental rejection of the child, and (4) weak emotional attachment of the boy to his parents (p.65). The commonality with Colvin and Pauly's (1983) Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory of Delinquency Production can be seen in that the degree of family attachment or commitment to the family is central to both theories. Important to the present study is that Social Control Theory recognizes that attachment and commitment to school does correlate with lower delinquency rates (Hirschi, 1969). It does not, however, attempt to explain how or why some youths have a weak attachment or coinmitment to school. 12 Qualitative Studies of Delinquency Qualitative studies of delinquency are limited in number when compared with the number of quantitative studies that have been conducted. Qualitative studies do, however, have a long tradition in delinquency literature dating back to interviews with street urchins in 1850 by Henry Mayhew (Bennett, 1981, p.xi). Following Mayhew is the qualitative work on delinquency conducted by Benjamin Fine in 1955, entitled 1,000,000 Delinquents (Bennett, 1981, p.62). Bennett (1981, p.63) states that the importance of these works was to give a human dimension to what was one of the faceless social problems of the day. The studies by Mayhew and Fine concluded that the absence of parents or lack of parental supervision among the lower classes caused a dissociation from society forcing the youths to become involved in crime for reasons of survival. An often cited example of sociological life history is Clifford Shaw's The Jack-Roller: A Delinquent Boys Own Story (1930). Much of this work was written in the first person and is a vivid and dramatic account of the life of a young man named Stanley. While many factors involved in Stanley's delinquency are examined in detail, the role of schooling was not. The reason for not examining the role of schooling in Stanley's life was that Stanley hardly attended school at all. The discussion following Shaw's work was written by Ernest W. Burgess who concludes: In penetrating beneath the external behavior of the delinquent boy it reveals the intimate interplay between his impulses and the effective stimuli of the environment. It shows how the cultural patterns, of his home, of his associates in the neighborhood, of the delinquent and criminal groups outside and especially inside correctional and penal institutions, define his wishes and attitudes and so control, almost in a deterministic fashion, his behavior, (p. 197) This work, more than any before, considers many of the social factors in the development of delinquency and was pioneering in its use of life history data in the undertaking. This was followed shortly thereafter by Edwin Sutherland's The Professional 13 Thief (1937). Again, he explores the life experiences of an individual who had become involved in criminal activity. Sutherland concluded that the absence of family guidance and association with criminal peers influence an individual's involvement in crime. There is, once again, no mention of whether schooling has any role in the individual's involvement in crime. A study which did examine the role of schooling was a longitudinal study conducted over a period of ten years from 1960-1970 by Ahlstrom and Havighurst (1970) of 422 boys in a work/study program and beyond. In this study, "typical examples of family related problems" include: A divided family - many problems affect boy's school adjustment. Mother is employed - family conditions have much to do with boy's school attitudes which are very poor. Very poor home conditions - father can't keep a job - the boy has an improper diet. The boy gets no help from home. Parents are indifferent. Complex unstable home life is having definite effect on boy's school adjustment. Mother abandoned child - ran off - left him with grandparents - boy very upset. Frequent family moving has kept boy out of school. He cannot keep up. Chronic absences hinder progress - boy is kept out of school frequently to care for younger children, (p.56) This study concludes that there were five main aspects to the problems these youths faced growing up. These aspects were: 1) the lack of opportunity to be a man or the lack of positive male role models; 2) inadequate family support, i.e. indifference or hostility toward school, transience, so involved in trying to support large families that they had insufficient time and energy to provide help and emotional support to children having difficulty in school; 14 3) negative neighborhood settings; 4) lack of a sense of control over their environment which limited them in studying a situation, deciding how to act rationally and effectively, and then acting in the expectation that they would produce the desired effect; 5) rewards for delinquency, i.e. source of prestige, lack of punishment. The data was collected using questionnaires for parents and teachers working with the boys. The boys' own stories, per se, were not included as data. A recent example of qualitative research on delinquency is Goldstein's (1990) study of 250 youths. The study explored the issues of cause, reduction and prevention of juvenile delinquency. There was only a minimal treatment of the role of schooling. Sections of the study on schooling consisted of the youths speaking of the importance of a good education for staying out of trouble and, conversely, also stating that school is where one can get into trouble because it is the location of peer pressure (p.56). The study concluded that juvenile delinquency is a complexly determined behaviour having multiple causality and that complex behaviours require complex, multifaceted interventions for their alteration (p. 156). An important comment in the conclusion of the book is that it is essential to any analysis of juvenile delinquency to remember and respond to the fact that delinquents are also adolescents and struggle, as most adolescents do, with: Striving for a unique identity, eg. shaved heads, pierced body parts. Oppostional feelings, eg. "if somebody tells you to do something, you're not going to do it." Hyperindependence, eg. "nobody in this world has their life straight enough to tell other people how to live theirs." Asking for limits, eg. "what I really needed was somebody that could control me." Externalization of responsibility, eg. "people shouldn't leave buildings unlocked." 15 Peer pressure, exploration, rebelliousness, eg."tried drugs to be with the crowd, to see if I liked it, 'cause my parents said not to." Difficulty being independent, eg. "you need people back there supporting you, helping you", (p. 156-158) Goldstein calls these "quintessential adolescent qualities" which must be addressed in any analysis of delinquency (Goldstein, 1990, p. 156). The value of qualitative studies is that they are able to provide insights into the individual's perspective, motivation, intentions and experience, as exemplified by Goldstein's study. Howard Becker, in his introduction to the 1966 edition of Shaw's The Jack-Roller, comments on one of qualitative studies' most important functions: Stanley's story allows us, if we want to take advantage of it, to begin to ask questions about delinquency from the point of view of the delinquent. If we take Stanley seriously, as his story must impel us to do, we might well raise a series of questions that have been relatively little studied - questions about the people who deal with delinquents, the tactics they use, their suppositions about the world, and the constraints and pressures they are subject to. (p.xv) Qualitative research has the potential to offer further penetration, by way of descriptive data from the perspective of the individual, of the individual's experience of schooling and hence, of the schooling/delinquency relationship. Gaps in the Literature This review of the literature has examined a number of studies that have identified factors associated with the schooling/delinquency relationship. There are, however, three main gaps in the literature on schooling/delinquency which need to be addressed. First, there is the gap that exists in the education literature with respect to its analysis of delinquency. This gap is 16 the result of the tendency of the education literature to analyze the factors associated with delinquency without actually looking at the development of delinquency itself. Second, there is the gap in delinquency literature which tends not to elaborate on the role of schooling and its influence or lack thereof, in an individual's decision to become involved in delinquency. Third, a significant portion of the delinquency literature and the education literature investigating the schooling/ delinquency relationship has been generated by quantitative studies of large samples of youths. This research has been essential to the identification of a number of important factors associated with delinquency: school failure and dropping out, alienation, social class, and relationship to the family. The gap in this literature is the need for insight into how the identified and measured factors are experienced by youths who become involved in criminal activity. Statement of the Problem The schooling/delinquency research undertaken using quantitative research methods has not provided insight into the actual schooling experiences of individuals who have become involved in delinquency. Qualitative research, while studying the experiences of persons who have become involved in crime, has tended not to provide a sufficient, full examination of the schooling experiences of those individuals. The present study is concerned with the schooling experiences of persons who have become involved in crime with the aim of elucidating, at least in part, the schooling/delinquency relationship as it is experienced by offenders themselves. 17 CHAPTER 3 Methodology Subject Selection This study began while I was still employed as an employment counsellor and I was, therefore, restricted from involving any individual who had previously made use of my services or who may have potentially required them at a future date. This restriction was specified by the Behavioural Sciences Screening Committee for Research and Other Studies Involving Human Subjects to avoid bias toward the men by me and bias in responses given me by the men. To access potential subjects for the study I enlisted the assistance of staff of a metropolitan, community based pre-employment program for criminal offenders to which I had often referred clients. The staff made their past and current program participants aware of the study, provided them with a description of the research (Appendix 1) and asked the volunteers to contact me for participation. Volunteers were sought from a program for criminal offenders to obtain what Patton (1990, p.69) calls "information rich cases." These information rich cases are those from which one can learn a great deal about the issues of central importance to the purpose of the research. The executive director of the program for criminal offenders provided a letter of permission and support for the study (Appendix 2). Once this letter had been obtained, a Certificate of Approval was received from the Behavioural Sciences Screening Committee for Research and Other Studies Involving Human Subjects of the University of British Columbia (Appendix 3). The requirements for entry into the program are a criminal history and a desire to make the life changes necessary to enter the labour market. Each volunteer had become involved in crime during adolescence or sooner and remained involved in crime until adulthood. 18 The number of subjects involved in the study was not pre-determined. Rather, an attempt was made to include as many participants as possible with the knowledge that access to subjects meeting the criteria of the study would be difficult. Four subjects volunteered to participate. This sample is not representative of the larger population of male criminal offenders. It was not the intent of the study to make inferences about the larger population based on the findings from these subjects. Because further volunteers were not forthcoming, it was determined that the analysis would proceed with four subjects having the desired backgrounds. This small sample did, however, generate sufficient data for analysis using Grounded Theory methodology. It was decided not to include female offenders' experiences of schooling in the study. The literature suggests that women and men experience the schooling process very differentiy (Belenky et al, 1986). There is also evidence to suggest that young men and women drop out of school for very different reasons (see Fine and Zane, in Weis et al, 1989). Therefore, to examine both female and male criminal offenders' experiences of schooling would have added complexity beyond the scope of this study. Subject Profiles Joseph Joseph is a 41 year old white male. He currently works as an instructor in the pre-employment program for criminal offenders from which the subjects were recruited. He was incarcerated for 14 years for murder and is now serving the remainder of his life sentence in the 19 community on parole. Prior to this conviction, Joseph served several terms of incarceration for property offences both as a juvenile and as an adult. Joseph was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and was fourth oldest of 10 children. Just prior to attending school, Joseph's parents separated. His mother took the children and moved to Vancouver. Joseph's mother worked as a practical nurse while the oldest girl in the family looked after the younger siblings. This sister, who taught Joseph how to read and write before he attended school, was forced to quit school after grade ten to care for the family. For some reason, which remains unclear to Joseph, the Ministry of Social Services became concerned about the children and informed Joseph's mother that the children would be apprehended if she did not care for them. She then quit working, went on welfare and stayed home with the children. Joseph attended his first school in grade one for a total of 3 weeks before the family moved and Joseph had to attend a new school. He stayed in the second school until the end of grade one and then the family moved again. A l l of these moves were within East Vancouver but they were far enough that a change in school resulted. The reasons for the many moves is unclear, however, given that the family lived in poverty, it may have had to do with continuously seeking cheaper rent. These early years were not, for the most part, memorable except that Joseph recalled being bored in school because of his early competence at reading and writing. He also recalled playing games and having lots of friends. Joseph's recollection of grades five and six were more clear because there was a particular art teacher who initiated creative art projects which remained part of the school for years afterward. Joseph also remembers being in school and 20 reacting to some of the newsworthy social events of the time such as Kennedy getting shot and the collapse of the Second Narrows bridge. The big change for Joseph occurred in grade seven. This was the first year of high school for him. According to Joseph, "the place was so large with so many people running around, it took some time getting use to . . . I played hooky quite a bit." Also, "it was more impersonal, the other kids were a lot bigger, some were a lot meaner too." Joseph stated that it was in grade eight that he really began to get bored with school and began to skip a lot of classes. When he showed up for tests, he passed them and so there were no academic consequences for his skipping school. Then in grade nine Joseph started hanging around with boys who decided to address their economic shortcomings, as Joseph observed: we all came from large families and in the east end of Vancouver the majority of families are poor, then all of a sudden the guys I'm hanging around with start coming up with money and then they invite me out and we start pulling B and Es on businesses at night and running around, (p.7) In addition to breaking and entering, Joseph and his peers also stole cars to go joy-riding. Drugs, alcohol and glue sniffing surrounded Joseph while he was growing up, but what prevented him from becoming involved in it as a young person, according to him, was that he "was never that stupid." This said, he did become involved in substance abuse after dropping out of school. Getting convicted for break and entry crimes and car stealing resulted in various terms of incarceration in juvenile detention and missing a lot of school in grades 10 and 11. Despite continuing with his education in detention, when Joseph returned to the high school he made it halfway through grade 12 before he dropped out. He had decided after his last term of incarceration as a juvenile that he was going to "go straight" because he was tired of the criminal lifestyle. After he dropped out he tried to get a job. He had a difficult time 21 obtaining employment. This difficulty, added to the fact that his peers were all abusing substances, lead him into substance abuse as well. Observing that the substance abuse was counter productive to his goal of obtaining employment, he quit the drugs, and stopped hanging around with his criminal peers. According to Joseph, he was somewhat successful in remaining clean and sober and uninvolved in crime for a period of time, when one evening two of his criminal friends came to his house. They had a weapon with them and asked him to drive them to pick up another individual. Joseph claims he thought his friends were maybe going to give this other individual a "good bloody beating." Instead they committed a murder. While Joseph maintains he only drove to the place where this happened and was not involved in the actual murder, he was convicted of murder and received a life sentence. He served 14 years of his sentence in prison. In prison he passed the General Educational Development Test (GED) and then continued on to obtain his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and now teaches in a pre-employment program for criminal offenders. Paul Paul is a 24 year old white male who was born in Czechoslovakia. He has one sibling, a sister who is seven years younger. Paul's father worked as a labourer and was abusive to his mother until they divorced when Paul was 15 years old. According to Paul, his father had little or no relationship with him. Paul was involved in a range of criminal offenses as a youth and as an adult including property offenses, mischief and endangering life. When Paul was 12 years old, the family went on a 'vacation' to Austria. This was a step to leave Czechoslovakia for the west. They stayed in Austria for one year. Paul did not speak German so school in Austria was a period of adjustment to a new culture with a new language. He states he just sat in the back and did nothing. He claims he, "slept through it, 22 nobody demanded anything of trie, I got passed" (p.5). Then when Canada accepted the family, they emigrated to Canada. In Ontario, Paul finished two months of grade seven after he arrived and then in the following fall, he was put in grade seven again. He had a very difficult time adjusting because of his lack of English language skills. By this time he was two years older than his classmates. They made it very clear to him that he was an immigrant and did not belong. He states it was, "a humiliating experience until about grade eight and then I decided I'd had enough and I started fighting back" (p.6). Fighting back meant getting involved with the 'bad kids', smoking, getting high and getting into trouble. Paul met these kids while working at the Swiss Chalet. They were mostly his chronological equals with some being older. Paul's involvement in delinquency progressed from drug use to locker thefts in grade nine. He received his first conviction for theft under $2,000 in grade nine. He claims he was always intoxicated during school and so was not involved in any of the lessons that took place. The teachers always passed him despite his not doing any school work. After many petty crimes for which he did not get caught, during grade 10 Paul was charged and convicted of robbing a beer store for which he received three months in juvenile detention. His parents were divorced and when he was released he moved out of the family home and in with a friend. He dropped out of school for three months and then he "shaped up" because he did not want to go back to jail. He went on welfare and went back to school. His motivation was that he did not want to work as a labourer like his father. Even though he continued to abuse alcohol and drugs, he received good enough marks to continue to receive his cheque from Social Services. Also during this time he discovered theatre and music, with which he became involved during school. 23 In grade 12 a new school complex was built. A number of new optional programs involving video production were offered. Paul was very interested in video and excelled in these courses. Nonetheless, he was still involved in crime during this time. He was charged approximately 20 times and convicted 3 times, resulting in probation and community service hours. Despite the criminal charges, he received enough credits to complete his grade 12 diploma. He then moved to British Columbia in hopes of becoming involved in the film industry. When he could not find work he enrolled in the pre-employment program for criminal offenders. He subsequently finished the program and is currently training for a career in the field of computer multimedia at a private training college. Sundance Sundance is a 23 year old white male who is the oldest of two boys. He was born when his mother was 16 years old. He claims that his father and he were 'best friends' until the age of six when his father committed suicide. His early memories of family life are of physical abuse, emotional abuse and the substance abuse of his parents. Sundance started school at five years of age and states that his first school experience, "was a total disaster." He did not go to kindergarten or playschool and so his initial school experience in grade one was very strange to him. He states that he, "lacked the listening skills, communication skills, what you would need in order to pick things up." He repeated grade one and half way through his second year of grade one, "that's when things started to go bad for me." When he was six years old he came home from school one day to find his father dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No one talked to Sundance about what happened to his father. He had no understanding of what happened and, according to Sundance, he became violent with the other children at school as a way of acting out his feelings. He states, "I didn't 24 want to talk to anybody, kids were making fun of me, making fun of my father's death, I nearly strangled a friend of mine to death because of it." His mother quickly became involved with another man, and with him being an alcoholic, it started all over again with the chain, a lot of physical abuse and a lot of mental abuse, and I seemed to be at the end of this all the time, they'd come home loaded, smack me all around and I'd be a marshmallow, this went on until I was probably about 11 years old. At the age of 10 Sundance and his brother were charged with breaking and entering. He received probation for this conviction. This conviction was followed by a long string of convictions for which he received probation and juvenile detention. At the age of 13, Sundance was kicked out of the family home by his mother who blamed him for a lot of the problems in her life. He then spent the next three years in group homes and foster homes. At 14 he was kicked out of school for breaking a teacher's nose and began to attend in a different district where he was placed in a Special Education class. At 16 he tried moving back home with his mother only to end up leaving after a row with his mother and a fist fight with her boyfriend. In a different district, in a different foster home, Sundance attempted to complete grade 10. However, he was not successful. He was heavily involved in substance abuse and after stealing a car and almost killing his friend in a collision, he never returned to school. Since that time he has been in and out of incarceration, held a series of short term jobs, lived on the street, and has been heavily involved in substance abuse. At the time of the interview, Sundance had been clean and sober for 105 days, which he claims is the longest he has been clean and sober since the age of 10. He is currently living in a recovery house and waiting to get back into the pre-employment program for criminal offenders which he had started but had been unable to complete due to re-involvement in substance abuse. 25 Claude Claude is a 37 year old white male who was born in Hull, Quebec. He was the oldest of two children and remembers being very protective of his younger sister. After the first grade, Claude's mother had a nervous breakdown and was unable to care for her children. Claude and his sister were then placed in a foster home on a farm near a small town in Quebec. Claude's father and mother had previously separated and the father did not have custody. The father's involvement consisted of sporadic visits to the foster home where Claude and his sister were living. Later, after Claude left the foster home, the father took Claude to live with him for short periods of time at the mother's request. Claude lived at the foster home with 28 other children who were all required to do farm chores. According to Claude, there was a lot of abuse of the children both from the foster parents and the older children. Claude remembers his mother came once and did not return until she came to take the children home with her after the children had been there for four years. Claude learned to read and write from his grandparents before he attended school. His family was a mixture of English and French and as a result he could speak English and French upon beginning school. Claude had difficulty in school which he attributes to being totally consumed by what was going to happen at the foster home after school. He also spent a lot of his time in school wondering whether his mother would visit the foster home on Sunday. Eventually, Claude's mother took the children from the foster home to live in Toronto. There, Claude began to get into trouble at school. Claude claims he thought that if he got into enough trouble, his mother would call his father to come and get him. He began to smoke and 26 be disruptive at school. As Claude had assumed, his father came to pick him up. Claude's father took him back to Hull. When he realized he could not care for Claude, he put Claude back in the foster home on the farm. Then during the summer, Claude went back to live with his mother again in Toronto. When he was expelled from school again, he and his mother moved to a small town in Ontario near Ottawa. He did not start school there because his mother determined that since there was only two months left in the school year, that there was no point in starting. That summer, he went back to stay with his aunt in Ottawa. After school started his mother was unable to care for him and he was forced to move to his father's cousin's home in Hull where he had to pay room and board. He worked at McDonald's to pay for room and board while attending school. After work, he and his friends would go out and, "scream up the place." His father's girlfriend gave him amphetamines so he could stay awake in school. Claude eventually quit school in April and began working at various restaurants for a period of time. He then began hanging out with the hippies in Ottawa and started staying away from home more and more until he left permanently at the age of 14 not having completed grade six. He travelled west to Vancouver where he lived on the street. He drifted from place to place within Canada and the United States for a total of nine years. During this time he was heavily involved in drug use and 'street life.' Claude's years of living on the street ended when he became involved in a street fight which resulted in the death of another individual. Claude was convicted of murder and after serving 14 years in prison, has been granted parole. Claude is currently working in a bakery and would like to take further training as he does not see himself working in the bakery for the rest of his working days. 27 The Interview In-depth interviews were used to collect the individual offenders' perceptions, thoughts, and feelings regarding their personal experiences of schooling. The interview was chosen because it is, as McCracken (1988, p.9) notes, "one of the most powerful tools in the qualitative armoury"; one that can "take us into the lifeworld of the individual, to see content and pattern of daily experience." A potential problem with the interview according to research on research methodology is that interviewers tend to get the answers that they expect and that most of the data they obtain tends to support the hypothesis they are investigating (Becker, 1970, p.45). It is impossible, however, to approach the data collection process free from preconceptions. Preconceptions actually aid in the process, according to Sara Delamont who, in referring to informal hypotheses says, "You cannot structure your data unless you have some ideas about what they might mean" (1992, p.76). In addition, Strauss (1987, p. 16) says preconceived ideas about research allow for, "directed inquiry" to focus on the main area of interest. Although, the literature on schooling and delinquency did assist to focus on relevant issues, every attempt was made to ensure that the study remained open to whatever themes and ideas emerged from the data. The interviews took place at the residences of three of the four subjects and the remaining interview took place in a classroom of the pre-employment training program for criminal offenders. I was able to develop a comfortable rapport with each subject prior to the interview. The subjects were relaxed and spoke easily about their respective experiences. Sundance and Joseph required little prompting while Paul and Claude required a great deal. The interviews were completed in one sitting and lasted from two to three hours. Prior to the 28 interview each subject was asked to sign an interview consent form which described how the data was to be used and the implications of their participation (Appendix 4). They were then asked to choose a pseudonym and were verbally given a standardized set of instructions asking them to begin with their earliest remembrance of schooling and then tell about the next experience they remembered and so on (Appendix 5). I also asked them to describe the experiences in as much detail as they could remember as if they were telling me a story. I added that I would be asking them questions from time to time throughout the interview to gain clarity on certain points to better understand their experiences. Care was taken to ensure each subject received the same set of instructions and introductory statements about the purpose of the research. The interviews were tape recorded and each interview was transcribed verbatim for ease and accuracy of data analysis. The entire interview situation was standardized as much as possible to enhance reliability of the data, i.e. similar setting, same set of instructions, similar clarifying questions, and all tape recorded. While the interview situation was standardized as much as possible, there remained the issue of how the subjects perceived and attempted to deed with the differences between their 'world' and my own. Katz (in Mischler, 1986, p. 108) refers to this phenomenon as 'reactivity.' Despite the ease with which I was able to converse with the subjects, there was, to some extent, the perception that I represented a 'world' to which they did not belong. These 'worlds' are differentiated by involvement in crime and the criminal justice system. It is possible that because of the subjects' involvement in the criminal justice system, they have had prior opportunities to tell 'their stories' to psychologists, counsellors, and possible others. They may have been able to produce a reaction in some previous interviewer with their experiences. Some of the subjects, Sundance in particular, may have viewed the interview as an opportunity to 'shock' through a vivid and potentially overblown telling of their experiences. This phonomenon is referred to as a 'response effect.' This is not to conclude that 29 the accounts are exaggerated and, therefore, not of value. Rather, this issue must be considered when drawing conclusions from the data. Grounded Theory and the Constant Comparative Method of Data Analysis As little is known about the actual experiences of schooling of male criminal offenders from their perspective, the data analysis was exploratory in nature. Primarily, it employed an inductive style with the objective of discovery of knowledge about the experiences of these men. While there was some support for existing theories of delinquency, theory verification is best left to more rigorous approaches which are sometimes qualitative, but usually quantitative (Glaser & Strauss, 1967, p. 103). Patton (1990, p.44) states that the strategy behind this inductive design is to allow the important dimensions to emerge from patterns found in the cases under study without presupposing what the important dimensions will be. The themes and conceptual framework which form the knowledge gained from the study of these individuals' experiences of schooling emerged directly from the data. Thus the emerging theory is 'grounded' in the data. The data was analyzed using a method developed for Grounded Theory called the Constant Comparative Method (CCM). The Constant Comparative Method of data analysis (CCM) is used to generate theory directly from the data: a tentative theory that is " . . . integrated, consistent, plausible, close to the data, in a form clear enough to be readily, if only partially, operationalized for testing in quantitative research" (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The analysis involved both inductive and deductive processes. The inductive process allowed the themes and elements to be derived directly from the data. The deductive process was employed in asking subjects about certain topic areas identified in the literature if they did not speak about 30 them of their own accord. This interactive process is consistent with that developed by Strauss and Corbin (1990). The entire data analysis process involved the following steps as outlined by Glaser & Strauss (1967): 1) Open Coding: this involved the initial coding, naming and categorizing of phenomena into elements and themes. Then comparisons were made with other emerging elements and themes, hence, the name 'Constant Comparative Method' of data analysis. 2) Axial Coding: this consisted of drawing connections between elements and themes and the identification of events or incidents that lead to the occurence of a phenomenon; identification of facilitative or constraining conditions; identification of strategies devised to manage, handle, carry out, respond to a phenomenon under a specified set of perceived conditions. 3) Selective Coding: once elements and themes had been established, the procedure was conducted in reverse so that the elements and themes were again compared to the codes and then to the transcripts for both conceptual clarity and for the best fit or representation of the data. The revision and modification of codes, elements and themes continued until theoretical saturation was achieved. Strauss (1987, p.21) claims that theoretical saturation is achieved when,". . . additional analysis no longer contributes to discovering anything new about a category." 31 The process of data analysis using the C C M involved a number of interactive simultaneous procedures. For example, notes were taken while transcribing the tape recorded interviews to document possible themes early on in the analysis. Upon first reading of the transcripts, codes were employed to establish categories of themes or elements. With each subsequent analysis, the level of abstraction was increased. This resulted in information which was a reflection of concepts grounded within the data. A code is defined a s , " . . . an abbreviation or symbol applied to a segment of words - most often a sentence or paragraph of transcribed field notes in order to classify the words" (Miles and Huberman, 1984, p.56). For example, one subject relayed the following: I probably could have walked out with an A average if I tried, but I wasn't into trying. I was into getting into trouble. This was coded as 'lack of engagement in schooling'. The code represents the subject's words at a slighdy more abstract level than he articulated while still capturing the essence of his words. Each entire transcript was coded in this way (Appendix 6). A 'memo' i s , " . . . a theorizing write-up of ideas about codes and their relationships as they strike the analyst while coding. Memos lead naturally to abstraction or ideation." (Glaser, 1978, p.83). For example, the memo accompanying the above excerpt coded, 'lack of engagement in schooling', was written in the margin of the transcript as: Memo: Lack of engagement in schooling combined with engagement in delinquency. Which came first, the lack of engagement in schooling or the engagement in delinquency? Memos appear throughout the transcripts in an attempt to make connections between the words of the subjects and the emergent concepts. The memo and coding processes encouraged 3 2 the interplay of the inductive and deductive levels of analysis, such that increasing levels of abstraction were achieved which are a reflection of concepts grounded within the actual data. As this coding process occurred, beginning conceptualizations of themes and their elements also became increasingly evident. Several elements were identified during the coding of the transcripts of the interviews with the subjects. These elements were organized into 3 main themes; Family, Schooling and Delinquency (Figure 2). These themes and their associated elements will be documented, described and discussed in Chapter 4, Findings. 33 ELEMENTS FAMILY SCHOOLING DELINQUENCY Inconsistent Care School Culture Skipping Abuse Grade Retention Violence Family Value of Schooling Extracurricular Activities Substance Abuse Transition to School Attitude Toward School Theft Transience Feelings Toward Others Peers and Leadership Responsibility for Family Self Perception Alienation from Family Significant Teachers Suicide Attitude Toward Authority Alienation from Schooling Figure 2. Elements and Themes 34 CHAPTER 4 Findings The data in this study consist of the transcripts of the interviews with the subjects about their experiences of schooling. From this data three themes emerged, Family, Schooling, and Delinquency. Within these three themes a number of elements were identified. To gain a better understanding of the findings of the data, the elements and themes that arose directly from the data will be documented along with corresponding excerpts from the transcripts. Because these elements and themes are those arising directly from the data, they do not relate directly to the factors outlined by the literature review. Following the documentation of the findings is a discussion of the data which will inter-relate the themes and elements and compare these findings with the factors that have been identified by the research on the schooling/delinquency relationship as outlined in the literature review. Family Elements associated with the theme of Family include: Inconsistent Care, Abuse, Family Value of Schooling, Transition to School, Transience, Responsibility for Family, Alienation from Family, and Suicide. These elements provide insight into how the individual learned to interact with the world from birth to the classroom and beyond. A l l of the subjects had similar relationships with their families while growing up. Based on the data, each family was characterized as having weak emotional ties among family members. None of the subjects described their families as having two reliable caregivers. None of the men had a reliable male role model while young. There were few, if any, efforts by caregivers to provide supportive, nurturing environments for the subjects as children. The following elements provide some insight into the kinds of family situations in which the subjects were socialized. 35 Inconsistent Care The reasons subjects gave for their caregivers not providing a supportive, nurturing environment for them as children are all similar in that the parents were described as being unable to attend to the subjects because of other family circumstances. Paul attributes his inconsistent care to his father's abuse of his mother, What was happening was that my father was very abusive . . . she was having big problems with him and just couldn't deal with me. This continued until Paul was in grade 10 at which time his parents divorced. At the same time, Paul moved out of the house so it seemed it may have been too late for his mother to rekindle a relationship with him. Claude did not say why his caregivers were absent or negligent during critical periods of his childhood, however, they clearly were as evidenced by these ponderings: Why did I have to, at four years old, feed my sister? I had to steal out of a store to do it, I didn't know I was stealing at that time, I just thought I was grabbing what I needed to have, go home, chew it up, and put it in my sister's mouth, I was the "man" so, that's what they kept calling me anyways. Claude's mother and step-father would leave him alone for several days to fend for himself as Claude explains: They would leave me outside in the winter and take off for a couple of days to Ottawa and give me a bag of dogfood, "feed the dog and we'll feed you when we come back", went over to a friend's place, to eat I would just steal here and there or eat the dog's food. 36 During the interview with Claude the only information he provided about his mother which may explain her negligence is that she had a "nervous breakdown." This could be a euphemism for clinical depression or other mental illness with which she continued to suffer even after regaining custody of Claude and his sister. Sundance revealed that he was confronted with a heavy emotional trauma at a very early age. He also described a pattern of parenting he experienced for his entire childhood: When I was six I found my father dead, he'd put a bullet hole in his chest, my mother, she collapsed, she couldn't handle it, so she drank a lot, she took it out on me being the first born, and I went through a lot of mental torture because nobody explained anything to me, I didn't understand anything about what happened...she met another man, her being vulnerable and needing someone to give her security, and with him being an alcoholic, it started all over again with the chain, a lot of physical abuse and a lot of mental abuse, and I seemed to be at the end of this all the time, they'd come home loaded, smack me all around and I'd be a marshmallow, this went on until I was probably about 11 years old and then they kicked me out. First, Sundance found his father dead from suicide. Then, he was left alone to deal with his father's death. His mother and her new partner mentally and physically abused him while they were intoxicated. Finally, they told him he had to leave the house at the age of 11 years. Joseph's mother raised 10 children by herself while working. As a result of the demands for his mother's attention, both from other siblings and from her work, Joseph did not receive a lot of attention or receive much support from his family. 37 Abuse Added to inconsistent care and neglect were other abuses. The abuse experienced by the subjects began early in each case. Only Sundance used the word 'abuse' in his description of how he was treated by his mother and her partners. The others describe abusive treatment received from their caregivers, but do not describe it as 'abuse.' For example, when speaking about being punished for skipping, Paul recalls,"! got a really well beating for that one. I remember that beating. They took turns on me." Paul describes being beaten for other misbehaviour as well and states that this kind of corporal punishment was routine for him. While Joseph gives no evidence of abuse, per se, there was a notable lack of supervision from a very young age. For example, his lack of supervision make it possible for him to skip school for the first two months of grade one without his mother knowing nor the older siblings who were charged with the responsibility of getting him to school. In Claude's case, there was physical abuse at the foster home from the foster parents. He claims that, "It was pretty unpredictable. There were beatings and stuff like that." They would send children out to look for a switch to be used for their own beating. Claude does not mention physical violence from either of his parents, however, he clearly experienced neglect from his mother and her partner as in the times he and his sister were left alone while his caregivers travelled to another city. Sundance is the only one who actually describes his experience as abuse. This abuse was in the form of neglect, emotional abuse and physical abuse. According to Sundance, the emotional abuse began when his mother blamed him for his father's suicide. It then progressed to physical abuse. He relates that his mother and whichever partner she was with at the time 38 would physically abuse him. He also reports being kicked out of the house at the age of 11 years. Family Value of Schooling 'Family Value of Schooling' is an element that was used to code data which indicated the importance of schooling to the family. The families of the subjects, it appears, were concerned with issues other than the care of their children and as a result, the children were not valued, hence, their activities, including schooling, were not valued. Claude's mother did not place a lot of importance on anything in which Claude was involved. This included schooling. Claude states his mother would say, "we have to move, who cares, you'll just go to school at the next place anyway." Joseph's mother made the decision to keep her oldest daughter home from high school to look after the younger children. This resulted in her not graduating from high school. This may not have been out of the ordinary at that time for young women except that Joseph's mother herself received post-secondary training as a practical nurse. In addition, Joseph's skipping school for the first two months of grade one went unnoticed by his family. As Joseph says, "there was no great emphasis placed on education, we were too busy scrambling around trying to make sure there was food on the table." In response to a question about what he thought his mother wanted for him and the other kids, Joseph states, "just that we had enough to eat and a roof over our heads and we're properly clothed, that was her basis." Joseph continued to explain: Because education was never a large issue with my family and with other people's families of the people I was hanging around with, it never entered into the picture, I suppose if my mom and my sister and my oldest brother had placed more emphasis on education then things may have been different, I may never have gotten into trouble, but where you have a family with a minimal education or a basic education I should say, and having to scramble around and 39 deal with life as it is, education and pushing others into getting their education is not a priority and that ends up falling by the wayside or on the back burner. Sundance was continually given the message that he was not important and hence, anything that he was involved in was also not important. His mother would say, "you're the problem, if it wasn't for you being born he'd [his father] be alive." With these feelings of contempt toward Sundance, it can be assumed that the value placed on schooling for Sundance was negligible. Transition to School A l l four men seem to have difficulty in the transition from the 'culture' of the family to the 'culture' of the schooling process. While two of them could apparently read and write prior to starting school, they still had a difficult time with the transition. This difficulty is evident in certain occurrences. For example, Joseph skipping school for the first two months of grade one. His oldest brother and sister were charged with the responsibility of taking him to school, but he never got there. Instead, he played in the park across the street from where he lived. Finally, someone at the school decided to investigate which resulted in his attendance. For Claude, the difficulty in moving from family to school resulted in a total lack of engagement during grade one, "I remember nothing about that first year, I wasn't even there most of the time anyways, mentally." He was then placed in foster care and began grade two, but it was necessary for him to repeat grade one because of his inability to cope with schooling. Paul's lack of preparation for school resulted in his purposefully jumping off a roof, so he did not have to go on the first day. Paul states the reason as, "Some older girl told me it was just terrible." He broke his wrist but it was set in a cast and he was made to attend anyway. 40 Sundance's transition difficulty was related to his lack of experience of playschool or kindergarten and having no idea of where he was going or why he was going there. He remembers feeling "scared" and feeling like he was "locked up." At the same time he expressed that he was also "excited" and that he had always been, "the curious type." He also adds, that he, "lacked the listening skills, communication skills, what you would need in order to pick things up." Again, as in the case of Claude, Sundance also had to repeat grade one because of his inability to cope with the transition from family to school. Transience The number of times a family moves from one location to another provides some information about the stability of the family situation. Each subject experienced a high degree of transience growing up. After each move, the subject had to adjust to a new schooling situation which decreased the likelihood of academic success. The reasons for this transience vary from person to person. In Paul's case, his family was emigrating from a communist country to settle in Canada. In Claude's case his stability was directly affected by his mother's stability. When she was not able to care for him, he was placed in foster care or with his father or with an aunt or an uncle. For Sundance, care included foster care, group homes, juvenile detention, mixed with attempts at living with his mother and whomever she was living with at the time. As Sundance explains: Like I said, I was on my own for a long time, just floating from here to there and living off whoever I could get my hands on. I was very good that way. I was like a chameleon. I could be different depending on who it was. 41 Joseph's family was constantly moving to different accomodations. The reasons for this were not made clear during the interview, but could have been an ongoing attempt to find increasingly cheaper rent. The effects of this transience are many. The effects for Paul included receiving the label of ''immigrant." He describes the experience as "humiliating." He reacted by hanging out with the "bad kids" who accepted him. While the impact of transience on school completion cannot be ascertained from this study, Claude and Sundance, who were the most transient of the four, never completed school, even as adults. For Joseph, most of the moves meant he remained in east Vancouver, a community to which he grew to feel connected. School performance appeared to have suffered for each of them as a result of transience. Claude had the least chance for an effective learning situation. By the age of 13 Claude had been placed in 14 different classrooms in a total of eight different schools. Claude explains what transience was like for him: I don't think it's good for a student, changing towns all the time, most of the time you don't know where the hell you are anymore anyways, it gets, how you say, if you don't know where you are, it's just like you're in jail and you're waiting to get out, people try to catch you up, you're not there, you're somewhere else, my mind was in the bush most of the times. Responsibility for Family Each one of the subjects with the exception of Paul, reported feeling responsibility toward their family. Despite the treatment they received from their families, subjects indicated they felt a sense of responsibility for their families in some way. For Claude, it was looking out for his youngest sister in the chaotic atmosphere of the foster home among 28 other children. He stated, "I always tried to make sure my sister didn't get into any trouble, or beat 42 up, if she did something, somebody had to take the blame, so I did." For Joseph, it was passing on the proceeds of crime to his mother for groceries and other family necessities. He explained: I mean there was never any great amount of money you know. I never went out and spent it on cars and clothes and everything else. I had just what everybody else had. I was satisfied as long as my shoes weren't falling off my feet and my pants and shirts didn't have holes in them. That's where a lot of the money that I made stealing went, was into my family. Alienation from Family The abuse and neglect experienced by the subjects resulted in feelings of abandonment, loss, anger, resentment and ultimately, alienation from their own families. Sundance experienced many of these emotions when his father died: He [father] was like my best friend. I went through a lot of mental torture because nobody explained anything to me. I didn't understand anything. His mother blamed him for the suicide and she did not assist him to deal with the death. He experienced physical abandonment from his father and emotional abandonment from his mother when he needed her. Sundance spoke about his anger: I was basically carrying anger and lots of it. It caused a lot of problems for me in school. I couldn't cope in school. For Sundance, resentment also stemmed from his father's death and his mother's subsequent blame: I know he's dead. That's it. I had to figure that out on my own. So that really fucked me up and being told that, "if it wasn't for you he'd be alive you little bastard cocksucker." You know, a lot of fear, a lot of fear in my life. My whole 4 3 life's been around fear, resentment and hate. Fear that I was a mistake, that I wasn't meant to be. I felt like I was cursed to live on this planet for the rest of my living days to live in misery. And I did for a number of years right up until I came here [recovery house]. Paul spoke of his experience of alienation from his father when he first got in trouble with the law: The old man hasn't really spoke to me ever since I was a kid and now he wasn't speaking to me so it was no different. He said, "now I'm not speaking to you." He never spoke to me in the first place, so it was no different. Claude's mother had a "nervous breakdown" and did not visit her children for four years after they were placed in foster care. From Claude's perspective he had been abandoned: The main thought that went through my mind for four years of school was whether I would see my mother on Sunday. That was the main thing . . . From what I found out now, it was because nobody would let her, but at the time I thought she just didn't want to come back and see me and that's the only thing I had in mind. Claude also spoke about a relationship with his grandparents. This relationship was stable enough for the grandparents to have taught Claude to read and write prior to attending school. Claude explained what happended to this relationship: When I started school that's when it ended, but I guess that later on it started up again. Besides, my mother not showing up all those years. The family once in a while would come to visit and take you for Christmas to their place, bring you back a week or two later and tell you that they love you and all that stuff, "well then, what the hell am I going back there [to foster care] for?" Claude was abandoned by his father when his father left his mother, abandoned by his mother when she had a "nervous breakdown", abandoned by his grandparents when he went into foster care and then each time they took him for a special occasion and brought him back to 44 foster care again. The results of this abandonment are alienation from the family, anger, resentment, and a sense of loss. Joseph suffered the least from his family situation. While it is true that he did not receive much attention or supervision from his mother due to the number of siblings in the family and the fact that she was working, there are no indications of physical abuse or the kind of gross neglect which was experienced by the other subjects. Joseph does not give any evidence that he shares the same kinds of negative emotions toward his family or toward life as a result of his family, as the other subjects. Suicide An extreme reaction to feelings of alienation from family, abandonment, loss, anger, and resentment is suicide. Two subjects threatened or attempted suicide. Paul claimed that he was very young and it was not a serious threat: The only time he [father] was involved was when I said I was, that I had it and I was going to jump under a street car. That's when he beat me. That was the only time he was involved. Sundance, however, experienced the worst abuse and neglect. His despair was severe enough for him to have attempted suicide five times beginning from the age of eight years old: I was eight and I tried to drink myself to death. A l l I did was puke. The second time I was about 10 or 11.1 took the four-ten out of my mom's closet and a brand new box of shells. I took a shell out and slid it into the barrel, pulled the trigger and nothing. What are the chances of out of a whole box of shells that the one shell I put in would not work. Okay, that scared me because it didn't happen, scared me because I could almost hear the boom, so I threw the gun down and fucked off. I even got a beating for that too . . . then I tried hanging myself from one of those ceiling fans, from a shoe lace, pulled the whole fucking ceiling fan right out of the fucking roof. It wasn't bolted into the stud. 45 Sundance then commented on his feelings surrounding the attempts at suicide: I didn't fucking want to go on anymore. You know what I mean? I just didn't want to go on living. I was just in too much anger and too much pain and I didn't feel like I was wanted anywhere and I just figured, "fuck it, I'll give everybody what they want", but after about the fifth time, I thought, "I'm not giving nobody the satisfaction of me dying, I'm going to stick around and make their lives fucking miserable", that was my attitude. Neither Claude nor Joseph stated that suicide was an option they considered. Sundance was the only one for whom suicide was a serious consideration and all his attempts were unsuccessful. The extent to which each of the elements of family were experienced varied from individual to individual. Joseph had a high degree of family responsibility and did not speak about abuse or the emotions that often accompany abuse. Paul offered no indication of feeling any responsibility toward his family. He was often beaten by his parents for misbehaviour. He does not express a high degree of the emotions that accompany abuse. Sundance lived with severe emotional and physical abuse and neglect. This caused him to carry all the emotions associated with abuse and to attempt suicide five times. Claude suffered severe neglect and emotional abuse and expressed only minimal anger and resentment. Alienation, abandonment and loss are, however, in abundant evidence in Claude's early experiences. Schooling Elements associated with the theme of schooling include: School Culture, Grade Retention, Extracurricular Activities, Attitude Toward School, Feelings Toward Others, Self Perception, Significant Teachers, Attitude Toward Authority, and Alienation from Schooling. 46 These elements of 'schooling' set the stage to understand the experiences of the subjects as they took place within the school setting. Each school has its own ethos or school culture. This culture is influenced by the various elements that have been identified within the data. Each of these elements, as they have emerged from the data, will be discussed in sequence. School Culture Joseph described the high school 'culture' he experienced as a huge, impersonal, urban school environment. He commented that, "The place was so large and there were so many people running around. It took some getting used to." Paul noted a definite difference in schools when he tried public school and then returned to the catholic school. He stated: In (grade) nine I dropped out. They brought in the uniforms. It was a catholic school and it was just beneath me to wear a uniform, so I went to public school. I found public school so impersonal; large classes, you don't know the teachers, they don't know you, and its so easy not to learn in these schools, so I went back to the catholic school. Sundance attended school in a rural area on the outskirts of Moncton, New Brunswick. According to Sundance: . . . the teachers were very strict, old fashioned, like it was almost the same thing as being in a nunnery, being taught by nuns, I don't know if you know much about how that type of schooling goes but they're very strict.... Very, very, very strict. If you even smile with a sneer. If it looks like a sneer, they'll smack you around. And this was the type of stuff that I went through in school In response to a question about whether one of his schools was a 'regular' school, Sundance had this to say which reflects his perception of city schools: Yeah, but this was like out in the boons, right? Think about it. It's not like the city. It's more laid back, eh. City schools are pretty fucked up. It's just like 47 being in any big city. Schools are just basically fucking really a lot of corruption. Claude does not describe any of the schools that he went to. He does, however, give an indication of his perception of school policy as he described the following treatment: They [teachers] just kept moving me. It didn't matter what I was doing, how I was doing, I got home, didn't study, I was getting moved up anyways. These descriptions reveal less about the actual physical setting and polices of the schools and more about how the subjects perceived their schools to be, which was as powerful institutions against which they were powerless. Grade Retention Grade retention or the requirement of having to repeat a grade is a factor which affected three of the four subjects. A different, but related factor is being older than one's classmates. Claude and Sundance were both required to repeat grade one resulting in their being older than their classmates through school. Paul lost time through the immigration process which caused him to be two years older than his classmates in grade seven in Canada. One effect of his being older was that Paul's peer group did not include classmates but rather tended to include older co-workers at the restaurants where he worked after school. Finally, Joseph was the same age as his classmates and was not retained in any grade, but was rather, a candidate for skipping a grade. 48 Extracurricular Activities Joseph had good memories about the extracurricular activities in which he participated in elementary school. He remembered having lots of friends and playing, "cards and marbles, and running around the field during recess." As he got older he claimed, "I never did like sports. I was never interested in it." He went on to comment on sports and the people involved in sports: I thought they [sports] were a waste of time. I didn't like the competition. I didn't like the people. I didn't like that macho image that the jocks kept trying to project. When Sundance was asked if he liked sports, he replied: Oh yeah, I loved sports. I was always good in sports. It was like I said, I didn't have the time for it. My partying came first, my drugs and alcohol and that type of stuff, which reflected on where I am today, heh, heh. Paul stated that while he became involved in drama and music during high school, sports were not an option for him: I always got sick when I played sports and until a year ago I didn't know what it was. I thought I was just a wimp, but I had asthma all along. So it wasn't an option, so it was even easier to get into the partying. Claude did not mention sports or any other type of extra curricular activities that he was involved in during his relatively short school career. 49 Attitude Toward School Sundance was very explicit about his attitude toward school at the time that he was getting into trouble. This attitude, which directly relates to the abuse he experienced from his mother, was also extended toward the world at that time. His attitude was: Fuck everybody. I didn't give a shit about fucking anything. School, as far as I was concerned, school could suck my fucking dick. I didn't give a shit. I was not going to put nothing into nothing. This attitude is largely attributed by Sundance to the fact that his mother blamed him for his father's suicide and was a reflection of the resentment toward his mother which he carried around with him. Claude's attitude toward school was influenced by not being able to see the relevance: I didn't give a damn about it (school). I knew how to speak English. I knew how to read it. I knew how to speak French. I knew how to read it. Why should I take a course in school for? I had something better to do. I was wasting my time on something I already know and I could be doing something else. A clue to where this attitude comes from could be found in the following passage, also from Claude's transcript: There's so many other things that you are thinking about when you're going through class. To you there are more important things going through your life. You're worried about going home or kids playing with you or whatever. There's always something going on, depends on what kind of family you come from. No time to think about what you're being taught. There's other things to worry about. 50 School really was a waste of time to Claude. He was so preoccupied with his situation at the foster home or with his mother or wherever he was living, that he simply could not attend to what was going on in the classroom. Hence, the attitude from his perspective, that school was a waste of time. Joseph's attitude toward school was mixed as evident in this excerpt: I was always interested and always learned but at the same time school was boring for me because I didn't feel like I was learning anything. . . . I wasn't challenged enough, I wasn't given enough things to do or enough interesting things to do. Joseph had the easiest time of any of the subjects with school. He never failed a subject and was even considered a candidate for skipping a grade. However, the fact that he was bright and unchallenged by his schooling experience may have also been a contributing factor to his delinquency. Paul's attitude toward school was the following: It's a breeze, it's a holiday and it's easy to swim through. It was a social party, after a while it became a big party...It was a place to socialize and then it was a place that I would rather go to than go to work. Paul's apathy toward the schooling process is evident in his stated attitude toward school. He also spoke several times about being intoxicated much of the time in school which fits in with his comments about it being 'a party.' However, when asked specifically about the importance of school in his life, he responded: Taught me a lot about people. But it definitely didn't teach me anything when it comes to academic subjects. 51 Attitude Toward Others A l l of the subjects revealed their attitude toward others in various ways. When asked what schooling taught Paul about people, he replied: Well, that there's a bunch of dinks if you don't belong. You gotta find a way, you gotta belong from the start. Paul's attitude toward school also reveals his perception of others involved in his schooling experience. He refers to a portion of the student body as 'dinks' because their reaction to him resulted in him not feeling a sense of belonging. The other subjects expressed similar feelings about not belonging in certain situations as evident in this excerpt from the interview with Joseph about others involved in sports: I didn't like that macho image that the jocks kept trying to project and I guess what I really resented was their saying in so many words and by their behavior that they were better than somebody else because they could do certain things rather than trying to help them along or help somebody who is having a tough time. There were all these cliques around sports and so I never ever got into it. Sundance is fairly clear about his feelings toward other students in this passage: My attitude towards schooling got to the point where they're all fucking nerds, you know how the attitude goes. "You're a nerd, that's all there is to it. I don't want to be around you . " . . . A nerd to me means someone that knows more about what's going on as far as education than I do. They know how to do math. They know how to do all these things. I'm jealous. I'm envious, so, "fuck you, I'll punch you out, steal your homework." Okay, and this was the type of thing. 52 Claude did not offer much insight into why he and the other kids stayed away from each other, however, it is clear from this passage that he did not think very much of them: The other kids stayed away from me. I didn't hang around with them. I thought they were a bunch of dummies . . . so I hung around in the bush mostly, and watched out for my sister. Self Perception Each man expressed his perception of himself during his schooling experience at some point during the interviews. Sometimes these perceptions were not directly stated, however, they revealed their self-perceptions when speaking about other matters. These self-perceptions are useful as indicators of self-image and of self-esteem. Paul's self-perception was revealed in the following response to a question about his relationship with teachers: I had teachers who would not speak, they would speak behind my back, but they would not speak to me directly. I took that up with them and they just left and the rest of the teachers thought I was a pretty fun guy, and as long as I left their class alone, they were happy. I got a lot of respect I guess in that way, "stay out of my way and I'll pass you." When asked whether teachers viewed him as a trouble maker, Paul replied with pride: I hope so. They did. I'm sure they did. One used me as an example in religion class as a person who does themself bodily harm, when I wasn't there. Paul dropped out in grade nine because the school where he attended brought in uniforms and as Paul says, "it was just beneath me to wear a uniform, so I went to public school." Paul also boasted about his involvement in crime: 53 By this time I was pretty good at getting my charges dropped. So, I only got a year probation and a $5,000 fine, anyways I didn't have to pay it in the end. And community hours that I didn't do. Paul made it plain that his self-perception included seeing himself as someone who had a lot of personal power, who did whatever he felt like doing and succeeded at doing so. Claude commented on how teachers were always trying to change what he perceived to be essential characteristics of himself: I always liked my accent so I was always stubborn about changing the pronunciation. I could have spoke really perfect English because I could speak both all that time, but I was proud of my accent, not just because it's French. I like the way it sounds and stuff, so when the teacher would go, "this is how you pronounce 'th', I went 'duh'. Claude also saw himself as a competent outdoorsperson as evident in the following: My mind was in the bush most of the times, like in Ontario, as soon as school was out I was out in the bush, putting traps in, stuff like that, so, even in Mississauga, where we lived at the time, there was a big pond with geese, I had a cross-bow and would get a couple of geese, had to keep the edge. Sundance lived with the impact of his father's suicide which coloured his self-perception as he spoke about what the experience of his father's suicide and what the aftermath left him with: A lot of fear. A lot of fear in my life. My whole life's been around fear, resentment and hate; fear that I was a mistake, that I wasn't meant to be. I felt like I was cursed to live on this planet for the rest of my living days to live in misery and I did for a number of years right up until I came here [recovery house]. Sundance perceived his size as being a detriment to him as a young student: 54 I didn't fit in cause I was a very small person. I'm stockier now, but at one time I was majorly small. I hit weights cause that was the only way I could feel good about myself, so I took different forms of martial arts and stuff like that so now I turn around and I kick their ass. It's kind of like, "you used to do it to me, now I'm doing it to you, how does it feel?" So it was like a vengeance type thing. Sundance saw himself as someone who has an awareness of the world which is evident when he commented on the value of a 'street education' in the following: I know more about society and what's going on than a lot more people do. You know, even up until recently, I used to frown on people in university. I say all they know is what they read out of fucking books. The only way you'll know is if you live it. It's the street attitude and there's a lot of truth to it. Significant Teachers 'Significant Teachers' is an important element because of the influence teachers have on the schooling experiences of students. Each subject had negative experiences of teachers and all but Claude had positive experiences of teachers as well. Sundance remembers his grade one teacher very well because she tied him to his chair for not being able to sit still. He explained: I couldn't stand my grade one teacher Mrs. A . She was very strict. She wasn't a disciplinarian. She was a punisher. She used a stick and she would crack you very hard across the knuckles if she thinks things hadn't gone the way she thought they should've gone . . . Yah, I got tied to my chair like I said and I think that's what started me off to be the rebellious type, not wanting to listen, being forced to. The next negative teacher experience Sundance recalled was in a grade 7 special education class. Sundance explained: She didn't know what the fuck she was doing, so we rode her. We just rode her for everything she was worth . . . she didn't know who we were and what 55 was going on for us. She just knew that we were 'problem children.' That's all she knew and that scared her, which was her own downfall, 'cause we gave her everything that she fucking expected out of us. "You think we're bad? You treat us like bad people? We'll be what you want," and we followed our roles to a tee. Sundance also had some good experiences with teachers as he described his feelings toward another grade seven teacher, Mr. P, who was the school counsellor and who taught the, "problem children, children who were having a hard time coping at school." Sundance recalled: I really respected him; respected him as if he was my own father. I really did care for him. 'Cause he reached out. He showed us that he cared about us. He stuck up for us when we needed him. If he knew that we were in the right and someone else was in the wrong, he would stand in front of us and fight. Not physical fight but until that person that we were having a confrontation with understood exactly where he's coming from. I've even seen a teacher come down and grab one of the guys and he grabbed the teacher and slammed him against the wall, "do not touch any of my cases. You touch 'em I'll break your face." The second teacher Sundance "learned to respect" was Mr. J who reminded him of Mr. P and "even looked like him a bit." Sundance described Mr. J: He was a laid-back-go-lucky, jokester type teacher. He used to kick his feet up on the desk, "all right, what's been going on for everyone today?" Not this, "hey, we're gonna", you know. He gave us a chance to show our feelings so we felt comfortable and feeling comfortable in a classroom means a lot to a child, or even an adolescent. According to Paul, "half the teachers were against me because I was drinking, but I had eventually found very strong support from certain teachers." When asked if he remembered their names, he replied: 56 Yeah, the good ones I remember. The bad ones, I remember their faces, but they knew about the drugs and that I drank and that I didn't fit in, but I had a lot of support from them so that was really cool. In speaking about subjects that he liked, Paul revealed that the teachers had a lot to do with his opinion of the courses: Drama and then I got into the music too. Drama, only reason was because of a particular teacher and I found him like me. He was very much like me when he was younger so I was able to relate to him and the music teacher eventually grew on me. He was a pretty cool guy. I initially got into drama because he talked to me. Paul also had a very positive teacher experience in juvenile detention. He explained: I was very successful in school in jail, I think, a lot of support from the people there. There was an excellent teacher there. I've never been good at math and still now I can't do it again, but under her, I did very well, I understood algebra. She was just an excellent teacher.... She found a way I could understand. I don't understand the same way as anybody else and I guess she just found a way to get through to me. It was a good school experience. Joseph told of one particular art teacher who left an impression: We had one teacher, our art teacher. He was always coming up with interesting things to do and he had us go on a glass collection. He was teaching us how to make this resin stain glass and for years at MacDonald School over the entrance way there were these glass panels we had made in the early sixties. So that part was probably the most memorable. Joseph also had a negative teacher experience. A physical education teacher, who was formerly a famous athlete, handled a situation badly as Joseph recalled: This person turned out to be a total asshole. At the end of the year it's standard practice, I guess, to grab the gym teacher and throw him in the shower. Well, he ran into his office and grabbed a golf club and threatened to beat our heads in if we touched him. Everybody was shocked that this kind of thing would 57 happen and the next year when school was in nobody would even acknowledge him because of the behaviour from the year before. I just stopped attending P.E. classes. When asked whether he remembered any of the teachers that he had, Claude replied: Only one who had bad breath, glasses, gray hair; a history teacher; when I was in grade six. There was no special teacher. There was one teacher, a science teacher who used to watch the girls in the girls' washroom, saying he was watching for them smoking cigarettes. Oh, yeah, sure. Each subject except Claude had teachers who had a positive impact on them. These teachers were the ones who connected with the subjects. These teachers made the subjects feel cared for and that they had something to offer. These teachers reduced the subjects' feelings of alienation by making them feel that they had a sense of belonging, relevance, and personal power. Attitude Toward Authority Many of the subjects commented on authority and their feelings toward it. Paul was clear about his feelings toward authority in this passage: I had a problem with authority. I hated being told what to do. That's why I ended up here [program for offenders] I guess. Sundance revealed his feelings toward authority in this passage in which he commented on the ending of a special program for 'problem students': In grade eight when I struck that teacher, that was the year they cut the program, "don't have no funding." He [teacher] was getting too much respect from the kids. We were learning, we were, and they [school administration] saw that, but they just didn't agree with his tactics. Because they were too naive 58 and ignorant to understand that sometimes you have to be more lenient, how shall I say, go in that rebel direction in order to get a rebel to learn.. . . They just didn't understand those ethics. Sundance spoke very disparagingly about the administration of the school and, in so doing, revealed his feelings toward authority in the school: Yeah, Mr. Anderson [elementary principal], big fat butterball, stood about fucking 5'2". He was fucking round, man [laughs]. We told him so too, "why don't you come up the hill so we can roll you down?" . . . We didn't like him and he didn't like any of us, so we had fun with that guy. He had fun with us too, "three day suspension, three week suspension, you're out permanently," you know, that type of shit. So the administration, as far as I was concerned, that school was fucked. Claude stated his reaction to authority was to shut down: When you go to school it's like, "this is what you gotta do" and stuff. Can't stand that. To me, it makes me sleep... . When you're a kid you got your mind made up or something. It's pretty hard to change it. When something's in your head. To tell you it's the wrong way or whatever, know what I mean? Alienation from Schooling Elements which were coded 'Alienation from Schooling' included any elements which referred to the subjects' feelings of being left out of or not fitting in with the process of schooling. Joseph, while being the least alienated subject, expressed alienation from schooling beginning in the first grade: My oldest sister taught me how to read and write before I went into school so I was kind of bored when I went in and I was used to writing with a pen and the teacher wanted us to write with pencils and I wasn't used to it. It was really strange. 59 Then, in grade eight, Joseph went to a bigger school which, he recalled, took some getting used to: Now, I come from a large family, but going and getting this regimented idea of going and attending classes and paying attention didn't really appeal to me and I played hooky quite a b i t . . . . Grade eight was when I started struggling with school. I actually didn't struggle. I was actually kind of bored and I didn't attend quite a few classes and this kind of set the pattern for the next three years in school. I was attending on a half-time basis. Joseph was clear about what was important to him in high school: I guess if I had stayed in school full-time and attended everyday I probably would have walked out with an A average if I tried, but I wasn't into trying, I was into getting into trouble. Joseph also felt that his poverty prevented him from being a full participant in school activities: You've got some kids from better off financially families. They could take advantage of whatever was required in the school. If they wanted to take music practice, renting an instrument from the school or even buying an instrument, they had those funds available to them. If they wanted to go on field trips and that, they could. The inability to pay for that kind of stuff locks the welfare kids out. . . . As a consequence, I never got involved in any school activities. Paul was alienated from the schooling process on 2 occasions because of his immersion in schooling in a language that he did not speak or understand. The first occasion was his family's move to Austria and the second was the move to Canada. According to Paul the move to Austria was not traumatic: I didn't have a difficult time adjusting. The problem came from my father. He made our life much miserable. I had no problems at all. I don't think I had personally. 60 The move to Canada was difficult because of the way the children treated Paul. Paul stated: I didn't belong, right, and it was made clear to me . . . . It was made clear that I was an immigrant and they turned their face up to me for the longest time . . . forever, and I never ended up belonging.... Everybody looked at me like some sort of a leper, even the teachers, so it was really weird at first. Claude included school as one of the many things he was forced to do in his life. It was the things he was forced to do that he felt alienated from. He compared the powerlessness which he felt in being forced to attend school with being in jail: I'm in jail. That's how I feel all the time. A l l through the years, in jail or outside, jail or wherever, it's jail. That's funny you know, when I was in jail I started thinking about the past and I was feeling the same way in there that I been feeling all my life, locked up. When I was a kid, living on the farm and in school. Somebody was making me do this stuff. Sundance explained his alienation from grade one had to do with not having, "the listening skills, communication skills, what you would need in order to pick things up." After repeating grade one he still had difficulties, "I was having my problems with the kids and I was always not getting along with them too well." It only got worse for Sundance, who felt alienated from the process of schooling mentally: I had a lot of mental blocks because I had a lot of different teachers teaching me things their way. Not the way it should've been taught, a way that you can pick up and find out for yourself. They teach you their way and then you got another teacher teaching you her way. After a while you become confused. He was then alienated physically in grade seven: I had gotten kicked out of school permanently out of district 15 for striking one of the teachers with a binder and breaking his nose.. . . I couldn't cope in 61 school. I wasn't the same. I went through grade seven in special ed, what they consider special ed. This excerpt demonstrates Sundance's feelings of alienation from the process of schooling and his feelings toward students who did not seem to experience the same alienation: A nerd to me means someone that knows more about what's going on as far as education than I do, right? They know how to do math. They know how to do all these things. I'm jealous. I'm envious. So fuck you. I'll punch you out, steal your homework, okay and this was the type of thing. To go back, I didn't get really violent for the first few years because I was always being bullied, punched out all the time. Each subject experienced alienation from the process of schooling for different reasons. Paul experienced alienation because of the other students' reactions to his being an immigrant. Joseph was alienated through his failure to become engaged in the learning process as a result of his being unchallenged by the course material. Claude experienced alienation as a result of not understanding the relevance of schooling to his life. Sundance was alienated from schooling as a result of his total lack of preparedness for schooling and his inability to communicate his emotional turmoil creating a lack of connectedness to anyone within the school setting. 62 Delinquency Elements associated with the theme of 'delinquency' include: Skipping, Violence, Substance Abuse, Theft, and Peers and Leadership. These elements provide information about the involvement of the subjects in various forms of delinquency. Skipping A l l of the subjects except Sundance spoke about skipping. For Joseph "playing hooky" began in grade eight and continued on from there: What I used to do was just write notes, my own sick notes, and I learned, as I say, I learned to read and write before I went to school and I got quite good at mimicking other peoples' signatures and their style of writing and I was able to do my mom's quite well. That saved me so it never got back to my mom. While Claude spoke about not wanting to be in school and about missing school because of his moving around, he never actually talked about intentionally skipping school. Sundance reported not having skipped school for fear of discipline from his mother if he did not attend: If I didn't [go to school] I'd be fucking dead. I knew cause I could see the belt with the buckle and that is what I'd get if I didn't fucking go to school. Paul made a habit of skipping until he was on student welfare. When asked if he missed a lot from skipping, he replied: Yeah, just being too hung over, but you need so many [days of school] for them to continue to pay, but I did good enough and he [social worker] didn't want to rock the boat, 70s, 80s, and so he didn't say anything, but I did miss every month maybe four days. 63 Violence A l l of the subjects talked about violence in school with the exception of Claude who claimed that "fighting is stupid" and that, even in jail, he always figured out another way of working out problems without fighting. Paul had his first fight on the first day in grade one when he beat an older child with his cast and then once again one week later. He did not mention any other incidents of violence in school. Joseph related his one and only fight experience as it occurred in grade seven in a new school: It was more impersonal, the other kids were a lot bigger, some were a lot meaner too. I got into one fight with this guy. His name was 'Ironsides'. . . . Because this other person was viewed as a bully, me fighting with him and, for all intents and purposes, I beat him, that raised me in the eyes of everybody else. . . . I made my mark in the sense of beating up the school bully, so nobody else is going to bother me and nobody ever did. Sundance was very violent with the other students in school beginning from when the others teased him about his father committing suicide. He went on to give an example of the types of violent things he did as he got older: I took a baseball bat about yea long, just full of nuts and bolts and lead and I took it out on a guy and broke his leg in four places just to see if it worked. That was the type of mentality I had and that had a lot to do with anger I had. That [violence] was like a release valve. Much of the violence experienced by the subjects in school is well within the range of what might be considered normal for much of the general population. This is with the exception of Sundance, whose violence, both experienced and perpetrated, could be classified as pathological and as an understandable result of his early physical and emotional environment. 64 Substance Abuse A l l subjects participated in substance abuse, although it seems that Joseph avoided it while in school and became involved after he had dropped out. Claude was 11 when he started smoking cigarettes as part of his attempt to get his father to come and take him back to Quebec from Toronto. Then at the age of 13, his father's girlfriend gave him, "bennies, and stuff, speed. I stayed awake, no doubt about it." This was when he was working at McDonald's and living with his father's cousin. He stated that, "in that time, [I participated in] dealing hash and getting into trouble, booze and stuff like that." This led later to living on the street where he was "stoned all the time" for nine years. Sundance began abusing substances at a very early age: I had my first birthday joint when I was four, 'cause my parents hung around with bikers at that time, so I got it at the clubhouse...I did my first hit of acid when I was nine, I became an acid head after that, I was really into smoking pot and hash because my mom smoked hash and I used to steal it off her . . . . The first time I did cocaine I got an instant addiction right there.... I've done just about every drug you can think about; done opium tea, heroin, cocaine, you name it, I've done it. Specifically related to school, Sundance explained: We would go up to Tokers' Log and get fried out of our minds. There wasn't a day from about grade, just coming our of grade five and up that I wasn't toasted, loaded or toasted, one of the two. I wanted to get fucking shit faced. 65 Sundance offered that substance abuse also had another outcome, that it kept him in school: I'd been smoking drugs and drinking liquor since I was a young lad, so that also had a lot to do with my schooling, eh , . . . actually kept me in school for as long as I did stay. 'Cause if it wasn't for that I wouldn't have stayed. I was so comatose half of the time that, you know, I could actually sit through a whole day of school Paul stated that after he came to Canada and started in grade seven for the second time the rejection he experienced caused him to seek acceptance with the substance abusing group: Well, I didn't belong, right? And it was made clear to me. And then I started smoking and getting high and I belonged with the bad kids, right? So I started fighting back and we started with the trouble again. This was the beginning of a pattern for Paul. He explained: When I woke up, it was time to party. School was just a place to do i t . . . . Before I went to school a buddy of mine would pick me up in the morning at my house. We get high, go pick up a bottle I stole from work the night before Everyday, drink half that bottle, go to school, take acid if he had some, go to class, sleep, if your on acid stay up, go to lunch, get high, eat, go to school, come home, call each other up, go out chasing girls, I don't know, whatever we do . . . 11 and 121 got high at home with the guys and then I went to school. Substance abuse was a pervasive issue for all the subjects as youths except Joseph. 66 Theft For Joseph, involvement in crime began in grade nine with theft. The sequence of events began with Joseph being bored in school, as a result he began to skip school, and then he started to get into trouble. Joseph explained: The skipping school in grade nine and 10, that's when I started getting into trouble and I learned that I could steal cars quite easily without wrecking them. Just get a bunch of keys and try them out on cars and I was teaching everybody how to do this. So there was this whole group of kids running around stealing cars just to go out joy-riding and once they ran out of gas they just parked them. That's basically what filled our afternoons and weekends up . . . I never hung around pool halls. I always found pool halls boring. Always wanted to be doing something. Joseph explained how the break and enter (B&E) crimes started: These guys who I was friends with all of a sudden started coming up with money and they invited me out and we started pulling B & Es on businesses at night and running around. A lot of the B&Es we did were on businesses, generally TV and appliance stores and we figured if we could get through their security system the insurance would cover the loss and it did, for the most part. Paul also became involved in theft in grade nine: We were stealing stuff out of lockers, walkmans and a friend of mine stole a walkman out of the school and I told him, "don't walk around with it in the school, it's stolen," so he walks around with it in the school and got caught, spilled the beans and they searched our lockers and we had stuff, stolen stuff, hot knives from smoking drugs, pieces of drugs everywhere, so I got arrested and I lied and I lied and I lied for an hour then they caught me. I got charged with theft under, possession under, both. Paul's criminal involvement included other offenses such as mischief: We got drunk and attacked the employees and customers at Harvey's and made our own food. . . . There was always involvement with the police almost on an 67 everyday basis. It was just that they couldn't catch me and I guess sometime maybe grade 10 we robbed a beer store and I got caught and I went into a young offenders' custody thing for three months. Sundance stated his first encounter with the law occurred at an early age: My first run in with the law was at the age of 10 years old. It was a break and enter. That's what they charged me for . . . in court at 10 years old, judge knows from getting the reports from the police like what's been going on for me the past couple of years and he felt sympathetic and he let me off on probation, so that's basically where it started with me and it was a continuous thing for the next eight years. Claude referred to having to steal to survive as a young child, however, as an older child his crime included other types of offenses as well: Dealing hash and getting into trouble, booze and stuff like that... the only law that came up was when I was living in Hailey Station and it was vandalism. They couldn't prove it. They had a good idea. They couldn't prove it was me, but in those days I used to steal all the time. Peers and Leadership Most of the crime that Joseph became involved in was in conjunction with his peers. Joseph described some members of his peer group: We all went to the same school, coming from similar backgrounds. Well Kirk, his dad and his mom were alcoholics. His dad was a fisherman and the money ebbed and flowed with the tides. Merv's dad was an alcoholic. He came from a fairly large family and because I fall into the same role that they fell into, being I guess the caretaker, but for different reasons and we all had I guess this sense of responsibility that was actually beyond our ages and I think that's what initially drew us together. 68 When asked if he was considered a leader of his peer group, he responded: Well, no, I never thought of myself as a leader, but funny you should mention that because a couple of years ago I ran into one of the guys I used to get into trouble with and he told me that everybody always looked up to me because I was the smartest one [laughter] and you know, I always thought of myself as pretty goddamned stupid for getting into trouble and having it take so long to get it through my melon. Paul spoke of his peer group and how it gradually disappeared: Grade 11 and 12 nobody was around. The guys I hung around with were either in jail, dead or working somewhere. And I had a new set of friends that never went to school. They all worked. I hung around with everybody older. They were all working so I was basically on my own in high school. I didn't relate to anybody else. Sundance provided an example of crime that he was involved in with a peer: I was getting into it [drinking] again, and I ended up stealing a car with a friend. I was all fucked up on bacardi and we stole a chev sports car and I ended up rolling it and almost killing my friend, split his head open, pulled a piece of his scalp back, and that fucked me up. I carried him in a fireman's carry for four and a half miles 'til I found another car and I stole that one. Of the peers that Sundance spent time with, there was no particular leader. When asked if he was one of the leaders of his peer group, Sundance replied: No, fuck, no. I was like a ring leader over the years for taking a beating, so yeah, I was considered maybe a leader, not the leader though . . . Oh yeah, there was one we all followed around, but he didn't last a year so it was kind of like the process of elimination and yeah, I was probably the leader at the end of it, but my reign lasted a very short period of time, a month and a half [laughs]. . . They all got the boot, same as me, all the same fucking shit, striking the teacher [laughs]. 69 Claude only made one reference to peers during the course of the interview when he said, "There was a little gang that made a lot of trouble." When asked if he was a leader or just one of the group members, he stated: I'm never a leader. I just stay in the background. If there's something that needs to be said I say it. Some people say I could be a good one, but I haven't found the situation to lead that I like. Discussion The findings indicate that comparisons can be made between the schooling experiences of these four criminal offenders and the existing literature on the schooling/delinquency relationship. While these comparisons affirm much that is already known, the contrasts or differences that are reflected in the findings, are what enrich the analysis of the data and contribute to developing theory. For example, Kathleen Gerson (1985), in her study of how women make decisions about work, suggested that the differences among subjects are central to the developing theory. To make her point, she cited Giddens who stated, "don't look for the functions social practices fulfill, look for the contradictions they embody" (in Gerson, 1985, p.124). The discussion of the findings will begin with a comparison of the findings to the literature on the schooling/delinquency relationship and then will be followed by addressing the "contradictions." The comparison of the findings to the literature will follow the same sequence as the literature review which will begin with 'school failure' and 'dropping out' as major factors in the schooling/delinquency relationship. 70 School Failure and Dropping Out Three of the four subjects struggled with academic competency in school and all four subjects dropped out. Claude and Sundance were retained in grade one and then continued to experience difficulty until Claude dropped out without having finished grade six and Sundance was placed in a special education class in grade seven and dropped out before completing grade 10. Paul did poorly in his early years because of the interruptions in his schooling as a result of immigrating to Canada. He was immersed in the German language in Austria and then immersed in the English language in Canada. Paul, Joseph and Sundance experienced at least some success in school. For Paul, it was after dropping out, leaving home and working for three months that he decided he needed to finish his schooling to avoid being a labourer like his father. He then learned he could receive social assistance while attending school. He returned to school in grade 11 and began to make an academic effort. He was required to maintain adequate grades to continue to receive his social assistance cheques. Paul was also involved in drama, both as part of the curriculum and as an extra-curricular activity, which further engaged him in the schooling process. On this he commented, "It seemed to me that as long as I was doing good in theatre, certain subjects were really easy to pass." As a result he received, "70s and 80s." Joseph also experienced success in school and was the only one of the four who did not appear to have any difficulty with the academic component of schooling. According to Joseph, it did not make any difference how much he skipped classes, he would show up for the tests and pass them. He continued to skip classes and eventually dropped out half way through grade 12. Sundance's success came as result of encountering teachers who made him feel that he belonged and that he was important. He experienced that they cared 71 about him and he reveals that he cared about them as well. Because these teachers reached out to Sundance, he became engaged in the learning process and received decent grades for the first time in his schooling experience. Unfortunately, the encounter with these teachers came too late for Sundance and he dropped out before school completion. Although all four dropped out of high school, Paul and Joseph eventually completed. Paul returned to finish three months after dropping out and Joseph passed his General Educational Development Test (GED) many years later and went on to obtain a university degree. A l l four subjects were involved in delinquency prior to dropping out. Therefore, dropping out could not have played a role in their initial involvement in delinquency. What dropping out did do was to allow the subjects more time in which to be involved in crime. Rather than dropping out influencing delinquency, there is support in the data for the converse. The fact that the subjects were involved in delinquency may have played a role in their decisions to drop out of school. Despite the relationship, Mau (1984) contended that school failure and dropping out should not be the main factors of interest because they merely act as indicators of other more influential factors like alienation, social class and family background. Alienation from the Process of Schooling A l l of the subjects indicated that they experienced feelings of alienation from the process of schooling. The ways in which they experienced these feelings varied. The results, however, were similar. Paul's sense of alienation resulted from his experience of rejection by the students in his new school when he and his family first immigrated to Canada. Many times during the course of the interview Claude expressed his feelings of powerlessness against being forced to attend school and as a result felt alienated from the 72 process of schooling. He perceived schooling to be meaningless and irrelevant. Joseph felt alienated from learning because he was unchallenged and bored with the process. Sundance was alienated from the process of schooling in that he felt estranged from much of the process. He states that from grade one, he felt estranged from learning. He felt estranged from the other students as he did not get along well with them. He felt estranged from many of the teachers because they employed harsh or punitive discipline in response to his misbehaviour. Jarjoura (1993) commented that the data from quantitative studies of the schooling/delinquency relationship provide "no clue" as to what it is about the schooling process that causes youth to become disengaged and eventually drop out. He postulated that, "Because of overcrowding in the schools, they often may feel alienated and anonymous" (p. 168). The subjects in the present study provide information about the schooling process that, from their perspective, caused them to become disengaged and eventually drop out. Joseph hinted at overcrowding as being a factor when he spoke of the change from elementary school to high school, however, he did not express feelings of anonymity. Claude explained that he failed to comprehend why he was required to go to school when he could already read and write in both official languages and that he was too preoccupied with what would happen when he returned to foster care to be engaged in learning. Paul stated that because he was not accepted by the majority of students, he looked to "the bad kids" who held counter-school norms for acceptance. Joseph stated that because he was not challenged and because he found high school to be too regimented that he began to become disinterested and skip a lot of school. Sundance did not receive the appropriate help he needed for his difficulties with learning, emotional problems and his frequent misbehaviour and, therefore, became disengaged from schooling. 73 Many factors associated with alienation from schooling in the education literature were common to the experiences of the subjects. A l l subjects spoke of school policies and procedures being rigid and formalized. This caused the subjects to react by skipping classes and becoming involved in counter-school activities like skipping and substance abuse. Poor academic performance is another factor associated with alienation from schooling. Again, only Joseph's school performance was adequate throughout and Paul's only when motivated by social assistance and involvement in drama. A l l four subjects were placed in general curriculum tracks for much of their schooling. General curriculum track denotes a lack of preparation for a post-secondary education. Sundance, Paul and Claude required remediation which would have placed them in a learning assistance situation. General curriculum tracking has been identified as a factor in alienation from the schooling process because it contributes to the lack of relevance perceived by students. The fact that three of the four dropped out and did not return immediately to complete high school attests, at least in part, to how relevant they perceived their education to be. Poor relationships with teachers is another factor that has been identified as being associated with alienation. A l l four subjects had many poor relationships with teachers. Some also remembered teachers who had a significant positive impact on them. Claude is the only one without positive relationships with any teachers. Teachers seemed, on the whole, to be unable to make connections with these "trouble makers." The ones who reached out to the subjects as young students were few, but had a lasting impact. Sundance comments that one teacher was like a "father" to him for the way he made the classroom a safe and comfortable place. For Paul, one teacher was the reason he discovered and became involved in drama. However, in the minds of the subjects, the majority of teachers are remembered for their rigid adherence to a system of instruction which failed to engage these four as young students. 74 Relationships with peers with counter-school norms is another factor associated with alienation from the process of schooling. Again, all four subjects had relationships with peers with counter-school norms. In Paul's case, he experienced rejection or alienation from the general student body because of his being perceived as an immigrant. This caused him to seek acceptance from the others who were alienated from the general student body. Once he had been accepted by the "bad kids" he felt a sense of belonging to a new group with a new set of norms and values. Joseph began skipping classes a lot because of his boredom with school and began to hang around with other kids who, like him, experienced a lack of engagement in schooling. For Claude it was similar only it was several years before he had a peer group at all. It was in his last year of school in Ottawa before he dropped out of grade six that he spoke of a group of kids that he used to go out after working at McDonalds and "scream up the place" with. Sundance spoke of the group that would go get high at "Toker's Log" before or after school. Again, for Sundance, as for the others, these groups of counter-school youths formed out of default. They were not accepted by the general student body, but they were accepted by each other. Grade retention or the requirement of having to repeat a grade is also a factor associated with alienation from the process of schooling. A different, but related factor is being older than one's classmates. Claude and Sundance were both required to repeat grade one resulting in their being older than their classmates through school, however, there is more evidence that the reasons for their having to repeat grade one had to do with their difficulty in making the transition from the 'culture' of the family to the 'culture' of schooling than did the fact that they were older than their classmates. The culture of the families to which the subjects were accustomed consisted of little supervision, a lack of structure, a chaotic and unpredictable atmosphere, and abuse. This is in contrast to the 75 'culture' of schooling which consists of almost continuous supervision, much structure, a predictable atmosphere and the absence of abuse. Because of this contrast they experienced alienation from the process of schooling and were not successful in grade one. Paul lost time through the immigration process which caused him to be two years older than his classmates in grade seven in Canada. One effect of his being older was that Paul's peer group did not include classmates but rather tended to include older co-workers at the restaurants where he worked after school. Finally, Joseph was the same age as his classmates and was not retained in any grade, but was rather, a candidate for skipping a grade. Lack of caring or support by adults was obviously a component of the experiences of the subjects and is also a factor associated with alienation from the process of schooling. None of the subjects had support for schooling from their caregivers beyond being forced to attend each day or face sanctions. There were no adults in the lives of the subjects, apart from the few teachers who reached out to them, who made the effort to ensure that they were receiving guidance and support during the schooling process. There was no particular adult who could be counted on to assist the subject when they faced problems in school. Rather than support Sundance when he faced emotional trauma, his mother worsened his emotional state by blaming him for the death of his father. Rather than an attempt at understanding when Paul threatened suicide, he received a beating. When the subjects' experiences are compared with the literature on alienation from schooling, all of the factors associated with alienation from schooling were found to be part of the experiences of the subjects as well. This supports the suggestion that alienation may be considered to be an important factor in the schooling/delinquency relationship. 76 Strain Theory With respect to Merton's Strain Theory and the notion of youth from lower classes turning to illegal means to attain the cultural goals of wealth and status, this only seemed to apply to Joseph. Joseph was the only one who was clear about his involvement in crime being because of his need for money. There were other reasons besides economic reasons for Joseph's involvement in crime, such as "joy-riding" and his need to be "doing something." However, Joseph is quite clear that he had a difficult time getting a job and that he and his peer group decided to address their lack of money through crime. For the others, however, there may be support for Cohen's interpretation of Strain Theory which suggests that adolescents adopt values that are antithetical to middle-class values which leads to law-breaking acts often committed in groups. This would seem to apply to Sundance, Claude and Paul for whom economic reasons were not the prime motivation. If they committed a crime for the money it was to support their own substance abuse and not necessarily to better their economic situation. Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory of Delinquency Production In the Integrated Structural-Marxist Theory of Delinquency Production as suggested by Colvin and Pauly (1983), parents tend to subject their children to the same type of compliance structure they themselves are subjected to at work. In the case of parents belonging to the lower classes, this compliance structure tends to be coercive which tends to produce weak family bonds. This results in weak parental bonds, frequent association with delinquent peers, and high levels of delinquent involvement (Messner and Krohn (1990, p.305). A l l four subjects experienced weak parental bonds. Whether these bonds were the result of a coercive compliance structure is difficult to determine, however, there 77 is some evidence to suggest that all four experienced a coercive family compliance structure. Therefore, in that the subjects likely experienced a coercive family compliance structure and they had frequent association with delinquent peers and high levels of delinquent involvement, there is some support for the theory. Social Class The literature on social class identifies a relationship between social class and delinquency, however, the difficulty is in specifying the conditions under which the relationship occurs. A l l four subjects in the present study came from lower social class families. Paul's mother and father both worked and, therefore, his family was in the highest social class of the four subjects. Interestingly, Paul was involved in the least serious offenses and could be classified as the least serious criminal of the four. Joseph was very clear about the poverty that his family lived in and states that as a result of struggling each month to ensure there was food on the table, education and schooling were not a priority as it was with his peers' families. Sundance's parents were associated with a local motorcycle gang. Much of their economic resources went toward substance abuse and, therefore, the family was most likely in a low social class. Claude's family's social class is more difficult to determine, however, he did give us details regarding a level of care which included neglect and insufficient nutrition that is consistent with lower social classes. It is evident from the subjects' experiences that their lower social class families did not value schooling, which is based on middle-class values, and did not, therefore, consider it a priority to give their children the support necessary for them to succeed. 78 Family The subjects' experiences provide support for the Social Control Theory of delinquency. Hirschi's (1969) Social Control Theory contends that the family, like the school, is considered to be an important socializing institution in the prevention of delinquent behaviour. If the attachment or commitment to the family is weak or broken, then the probability of deviance increases. Sampson and Laub (1993) suggest that four factors increase the likelihood of delinquency: 1) erratic, threatening, and harsh/punitive discipline by both mothers and fathers, 2) low parental supervision, 3) parental rejection of the child and 4) weak emotional attachment of children to their parents (p.65). A l l but Joseph experienced harsh/punitive discipline by their parents. A l l subjects experienced low parental supervision. A l l subjects experienced parental rejection and all subjects experienced weak emotional attachment to their parents. The Social Control Theory of delinquency relies on attachment and commitment to the family and the school to keep children from becoming involved in delinquent activities. There is much evidence in the data to support the conclusion that all subjects had a weak attachment and weak commitment to school starting with grade one. Therefore, the data support the theory. The subjects' experiences of family support findings of the longitudinal study by Ahlstrom and Havighurst (1970) which determined that certain family aspects had a common impact on the delinquent boys in the study. These aspects were: 1) the lack of opportunity to be a man or the lack of positive male role models; 2) inadequate family support, i.e. indifference or hostility toward school, transience, so involved in trying to support large families that they had insufficient time and energy to provide help and emotional support to children having difficulty in school; 3) negative neighborhood settings; 4) lack of a sense of control over their environment which limited them in studying a situation, deciding how to act rationally and 79 effectively, and then acting in the expectation that they would produce the desired effect; 5) rewards for delinquency, i.e. source of prestige, lack of punishment. Contradictions The contradictions between the findings and the research on the schooling/delinquency relationship have to do with the ways in which, despite their difficulty in making the transition from family to school and despite their experiences of alienation, the subjects managed to experience some success. A l l the subjects but Claude had some documentable success during the schooling process. This success was associated with school based factors such as significant teachers in the cases of Joseph and Sundance and extracurricular activities in the case of Paul. This indicates that the school had some resources able to counter the effects of family and other school factors to promote the attachment and commitment of the subjects to the schooling process. 80 CHAPTER 5 Conclusions The purpose of this study was to examine the schooling experiences of male criminal offenders. The study explored both schooling research and delinquency research with respect to the schooling experiences of delinquent youth. The schooling research has tended to focus on schooling factors which act as precursors to delinquency and the delinquency research has tended to primarily focus on social factors other than schooling which are implicated in a youth's decision to become involved in delinquency. Therefore, this study was designed to examine the actual schooling experiences of persons who became involved in crime during their involvement in schooling. The study was able to obtain four volunteers from participants in a pre-employment program for criminal offenders. These four individuals all became involved in delinquent activities while of school age and continued to engage in criminal behaviour as adults. These individuals were interviewed and the interviews were transcribed. The transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using Grounded Theory and the Constant Comparative Method (CCM) of data analysis. From this analysis, the following themes and elements emerged: • F A M I L Y - Inconsistent Care, Abuse, Family Value of Schooling, Transition to School, Transience, Responsibility for Family, Alienation from Family, and Suicide •SCHOOLING - School Culture, Grade Retention, Extracurricular Activities, Attitude Toward School, Feelings Toward Others, Self Perception, Significant Teachers, Attitude Toward Authority, Alienation from Schooling 81 •DELINQUENCY - Skipping, Violence, Substance Abuse, Theft, Peers and Leadership These themes and elements were discussed with attention to the factors that have been identified in the literature as being involved in the schooling/delinquency relationship. The conclusions that can be drawn based upon the findings of the study consist of the following. Family Inconsistent care, abuse, low valuation of schooling, difficult transition to school, a high degree of transience, and alienation from the family all occurred because the subjects' caregivers were incapable of providing appropriate care for their children. For example, suicide became an option for Sundance as a result of the extreme abuse and alienation he experienced. The unintended effect of this alienation from the family was to inadequately prepare the subjects for the transition to school. The school had some minimal expectations that children come prepared for the culture of schooling. However, because of the contrast between the culture of the families of the subjects and the culture of schooling, the subjects had a great deal of difficulty making the transition. Despite Claude's and Joseph's claims that they could read and write before they attended school, they were still unprepared for the classroom. Schooling The subjects' experiences with all aspects of schooling highlight the subjects' lack of preparation for and lack of support with attendance and coping at school. In 82 contrast to their homes where there were few rules and little structure, the school had many rules and a high degree of structure. It follows that the subjects would have difficulty adjusting to the culture of school. Three of the four were at least one grade behind their peers, meaning they were older and distanced from their classmates. The subjects did not, for the most part, participate in extracurricular activities and when they did, as in the case of Paul, his attachment to school improved and he performed better academically. None of the subjects had a positive attitude toward school which reflected the attitudes of the families. None of the subjects had positive feelings toward others at school except their own peer group. Most had a poor attitude toward authority which, again, reflected the attitudes of the families. A l l experienced feelings of alienation from schooling. In the face of all these negative aspects of schooling, the subjects reported having experienced some successes. These successes were all the result of significant teachers. Significant teachers reached out to each of the subjects except Claude. These teachers behaved in such a way toward the subjects to make them feel that an adult cared for them. These teachers brought the subjects into what was, for them, an alienating process. In this way the subjects experienced a sense of belonging and relevance in an environment where they were able to succeed academically if for only the duration of their contact with that teacher. Support for Existing Theories of Delinquency The findings supported Hirschi's (1969) Social Control Theory of delinquency more than any other theory. The subjects all experienced weak or broken attachment or commitment to the family and school. Because of their alienation from family and school the subjects were not socialized to integrate societal values and the sanctions required to avoid becoming involved in delinquency. 83 Limitations of the Study The study's objective of illuminating the schooling experiences of delinquent youths was limited by three main factors. One factor was the subject selection process. The second factor was the small number of subjects interviewed and the third was the interview method of data collection. The subject selection process relied on the staff of a pre-employment program for criminal offenders to inform potential subjects of the research. It is not known exactly how this process was carried out and it is not known how many potential subjects heard about the research and chose not to participate. Therefore, it cannot be determined what the motivation of the subjects was for volunteering. It is also difficult to know whether this motivation influenced the results of the study. If this motivation did influence the results of the study, it most likely was with regard to response effect which may have caused somewhat dramatic accounts of the subjects' lives to be given during the course of the interviews. The number of individuals who volunteered to be interviewed, while large enough for analysis using grounded theory, was small by most standards. Because this number was small, many other 'types' of individuals who became involved in delinquency during their schooling were excluded from the study. The subjects who were involved in the study were white males from lower social class families. The findings may have been different if other cultural backgrounds and other social classes were included. Because the sample is not 'representative', the findings cannot be said to represent the experiences of delinquent youth as a population. However, there are 84 many similarities between the findings of this study and the current literature on schooling and delinquency. This may indicate that the experiences of the individuals involved in the study could be said to be somewhat 'typical' and, therefore, possibly similar to the experiences of other delinquent youth. The third limitation of the study is related to the interview method of data collection. The subjects all had considerable involvement with the criminal justice system. The likelihood of the subjects having had previous opportunities to tell their stories is high. With repetition may have come the opportunity for embellishment or modification. Because of the perceived difference between the status of myself as researcher and the subject as 'subject', there may have been some verbal 'acting out' to impress or make their stories more interesting. This 'response effect' was most noticeable in the case of Sundance. Also, the capability and selectivity of the subjects as they told of their experiences is influenced by factors such as memory and culture. It is impossible to tell how and to what extent these effects influence the data, however, these possible factors must be considered when interpreting the data. Despite the limitations based on the recruitment process, size of the sample and the limitations of response effect which can be associated with the interview method, there are implications of the findings for theory as well as practice. Implications for Theory The implications of the findings for theory consist of two parts. One part is substantive and the other part is methodological in nature. The substantive finding of the importance of alienation from schooling and the family supports and encourages 85 future research on alienation and the transition from the 'culture' of the family to the 'culture' of the school. The interview methodof data collection and the Grounded Theory method of data analysis were found to be useful tools in researching the schooling experiences of criminal offenders. Recruitment of subjects from a number of sources would provide a more varied and representative sample of subjects. Recruitment of women who have been involved in delinquent activities is required and is particularly important given that women have been all but totally excluded in research on the schooling/delinquency relationship. Attempts to gain alternate sources of information on the schooling experiences of criminal offenders would corroborate information given by the offenders themselves and also add other information valuable to the research. Finally, future research might include an analysis of the schooling experiences of individuals who did not become involved in crime who also experienced family backgrounds similar to the subjects. Implications for Practice A l l four of the subjects spoke of elements of schooling as contributing to their feelings of alienation from the process of schooling. While this may have been a function of the attitudes of the subjects toward authority and rules within the schooling process, it still follows that any attempts to minimize feelings of alienation and maximize students' feelings of commitment and attachment to the schooling process would be beneficial for those who come from non-supportive family backgrounds. Changes in school culture to affect how students connect with the school would improve the chances of certain children making a successful transition from the home to the school. The role of significant teachers 86 in the lives of the students who are prone to being alienated must be highlighted. Alternate programs which do not concomitantly stigmatize students may need to be considered. If this concept can be generalized and schools can mobilize their resources to engage students in the schooling process, it would have important implications for students from non-supportive as well as supportive family backgrounds. Summary In-depth interviews using a Grounded Theory framework coupled with the Constant Comparative Method of data analysis were used to examine the schooling experiences of male criminal offenders. The subjects were four white males who had become involved in delinquent activities while in their adolescence during their school years. The findings indicate that factors associated with the subjects' families were the most influential in predisposing the subjects to alienation from the process of schooling and to involvement in delinquency. In spite of these factors, some subjects did experience some successes in school which could possibly be attributed to school based factors like significant teachers and extra-curricular activities. 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Stevenson, R.B., & Ellsworth, J. (1991). Dropping out in a working class high school: adolescent voices on the decision to leave. British Journal of Sociology, 12(3), 277-291. Strauss, A . L . (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: Cambridge University. Strauss, A . L . , & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded Theory procedures and techniques. Beverly Hills: Sage. Sutherland, N . (1992). When you listen to the winds of childhood, how much can you believe? Curriculum Inquiry, 22(3), 235-256. Tittle, C.R., & Meier, R.F. (1990). Specifiying the SES/delinquency relationship, Criminology, 28(2), 271-298. Wehlage, G.A. (1989). Dropping out: can schools be expected to prevent it? In L . Weis, E. Farrar, & H.G.Petrie (Eds.), Dropouts from school: Issues, dilemmas, and solutions (1-23). Albany: State University of New York Press. Weis, L . , Farrar, E., & Petrie, H.G. (Eds.). (1989). Dropouts from school: Issues, dilemmas, and solutions. Albany: State University of New York Press. West, W.G. (1984). Young offenders and the state: A Canadian perspective on delinquency. Toronto: Butterworths. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour. Westmead, England: Saxon House/Teakfield. Wilson, J.Q., & Hernstein, R.J. (1985). Crime and Human Nature. New York: Simon & Schuster. Wynne, E. (1978). Behind the discipline problem: Youth suicide as a measure of alienation, Phi Delta Kappa 59, 308-315. Young, T.J. (1985) Adolescent suicide: The clinical manifestation of alienation. The High School Journal, October/November, 55-59. 91 A P P E N D I X 2 2120' Commercial Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5N 4B4 jobSTART is a pre-employment training program sponsored by the Vancouver Eastside Educational Enrichment Society Shirley Thompson Office of Research Services University of British Columbia PAX 822-5093 18 March VJfM Dear Ms. 'Thompson: I have had the opportunity to read Mr. David Cory's research proposal, "Criminal Offenders' Experiences of Schooling," and to discuss it with him. I think it is an excellent proposal and deserves support. To that end, I wish to give consent for Vancouver Eastside Educational Enrichment Society's CVEEES) employees at jobSTART to participate in the research by-providing ex-offenders a letter of introduction/explanation about the research. 'They will then have the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding participation in the study. If you have any questions regarding our organization, please call me. Yours Sincerely, Telephone (604) 254-5111 Facsimile (604) 254-0505 Hendrik Hoekema, Manager, jobSTART Executive Director, VEEES File: CAWP51\DATA\EDDU!\CORY.LTR 93 APPENDIX 5 INTERVIEW SCHEDULE AND PROTOCOL Prior to the interview, I will explain: I am doing a study in order to better understand the schooling experiences of people who became involved in crime. I will ask you to go back in time and remember as much as you can about your school experiences. First, I would like you to tell me about the earliest experience of being in school that you can remember. Then I would like you to tell me about the next experience after that one and so on. As we continue, I will be asking you questions from time to time. I'd like you to describe the experience in as much detail as you can, as if you were telling me a story. The following open-ended questions will be used (if necessary) to guide subjects to providing information on their experiences of schooling: 1. How would you describe your parents' attitude toward schooling? 2. How did you get along with teachers? School administration? Peers? 3. Tell me about your grades and whether you were put in any special classes or held back. 4. Tell me about your school and what the kids were like that went there. 5. What did you do outside of school class time? Additional questions will be asked, if necessary, to elicit more details and further clarify information. These questions will be similar to: How did you feel about that? Tell me more about that. What happened as a result? 96 Example of Transcript from Interview wi th Sundance A P P E N D I X 6 I: So you got yourself to school every day? R: Yeah, I would eat, hop on the bus and do my thing. I wouldn't see her again until after school and then I'd be gone again, so you could picture this, this was just before father's day. I: W h y did you go to school every day if you had that k ind of freedom? R: If I didn't I'd be fucking dead. I knew cause I could see the belt with the buckle and that is what I'd get if I didn't fucking go to school. I: From your mother? R: Or, not so much from my dad, I don't recall my dad ever lifting a finger on me. Yeah I d id , he just gave me a swat once across the buttocks and it didn't hurt, more pushed me away than anything else, now her on the other hand would fucking let er rip eh, I had fucking welts on my ass about that high. I: That was for doing what sorts of things? R: U h , being straight out bad I guess for her. I: Anyth ing to do wi th school? R: Oh yeah, "got the strap again? I'll show ya what the fucking strap's about - smack." I: So, if you got in trouble at school, you got in trouble at home as well , and she found out about it? I N C O N S I S T E N T C A R E Memo: great deal of independence for six years o ld - bordering on neglect? Memo: referring back to finding his father. A B U S E Memo: constant threat of physical punishment . I N C O N S I S T E N T C A R E Memo: father was caring (in his memory), mother puni t ive/abusive. A B U S E Memo: can't give examples, maybe just whenever she felt l ike it? A B U S E Memo:concern over behaviour in school or just another reason for physical punishment? 97 


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