UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Working with the delinquent Wanden, June Eva


This study has grown out of a seven month contact which the writer had, in a local group work agency, with a gang of delinquent teen aged girls and boys from the downtown section of Vancouver. It is based largely upon the process records which she kept on the gang during its stay in the agency, with certain corroborative material from other community sources such as case work agencies, the Family Court, the Police Department and the newspapers. The problem of delinquency is approached from a group work point of view; the chief purpose of the Thesis, therefore, is to indicate the strengths and short-comings of the group work process, as used here, as a treatment method. At the same time, the study deals with the family and environmental difficulties which have led the gang and its members into their present anti-social position. It stresses too, the attitude of the gang to the rest of society and in turn the reaction of society to the gang. The First Chapter gives the background of delinquency in Vancouver. In it the writer comments on the increasingly serious nature of the problem in the city. She touches on the various factors responsible for the delinquent child’s failure to adjust successfully - poor family relationships, bad environmental influences, crowded housing, limited recreational facilities and others - all of which have been considerably aggravated by the war. And in conclusion, she gives a general picture of the youngsters themselves and the gangs they have formed as a security against the rejection which, they have suffered during their growing years. The Second Chapter introduces the gang to the agency. The writer tells of the referral made by the head of the women's division of the City Police, who, in the course of her duties, had become interested in some of its girl members. A description of the girls and their family backgrounds is included in this chapter. The first period of activity when the club operated as a girls’ group, with the boys constantly in the background, is discussed. And the girls’ preparations for the inclusion of the boys as guests at a Christmas party are described. The Third Chapter deals with the first contact which the writer had with the boys at the Christmas party. Their attitude to the agency and to the group leader is very evident in the account of their destructive and quarrelsome behaviour on this occasion, following the section on the party, a description of the boys and their family backgrounds is given, which makes their belligerent attitude to the world around them quite understandable. The Fourth Chapter presents the gang as a whole, with the boys established, ostensibly as members of a dance committee, but actually as the governing body of the club. In this section, the complexities of relationships between the members of the gang and particularly between the girls and boys make up the major portion of the narrative. Their activities inside and outside the agency are described fully and indicate very clearly the instability and insecurity of their daily existence. In the Fifth Chapter, the writer continues her discussion of the club as a mixed activity, with the relationships between the girls and boys gradually worsening until they reach an open break. A description of the desperate attempt by the boys at a reconciliation is followed by an account of the withdrawal of the girls as a result of the mistreatment they have received at the hands of the boys. In the Sixth Chapter, the experience of the gang in the agency is evaluated in accordance with Bernstein's Criteria for Group Work. In this section, the following questions are answered. Has the area of concern to the members been enlarged? Do specific interests develop so that they find wider expression both within and without the agency? Has the group matured in its sense of responsibility to the agency? How have the standards of behaviour of the group been affected by the experience in the agency? Have the prejudices of the group based on nationality, financial status and other factors been affected? In the Seventh Chapter, the writer comments once again on the delinquent's position in the community. She indicates the limitations which a group work agency, handling this type of youngster, unsupported by other resources, must face. And she points out the necessity of a co-operative effort on the part of all welfare organizations and the community as a whole as the only effective method of dealing with the problem.

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