Assessing the risk of recurring violence in young delinquents brought before a juvenile court. A clinical approach
background Little is known about the assessment of the risk of recurring violence in criminal forensic evaluations of youngsters.
aim To determine which clinical and empirical factors clinicians consider to be the most important in clinical assessments of the risk of recurring violence and to determine what (hierarchical) relationship there is - according to clinicians - between these factors.
method Forty experienced evaluators and 24 therapists experienced in treating delinquent youngsters were asked via the concept mapping technique about the factors that they considered to be the most important in their clinical assessment of violence risk. They had to relate these factors to known factors in two international risk assessment instruments for young people, namely the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (savry) and the Psychopathy Check List: Youth Version (pcl:yv).
results The clinicians identified 33 new clinical violence risk factors in addition to the 50 factors in savry (30) and the pcl:yv (20). Fourteen new factors plus 12 existing factors from savry and 8 from pcl:yv were rated as very important for the clinical assessment of violence risk in criminal forensic evaluations of youngsters. The 83 risk factors were grouped in a new way into 7 new cluster-arrangements which differ from those in savry and pcl:yv.
conclusion The new clusters and risk factors seem to provide opportunities for improving the clinical assessment of violence risk in youngsters in criminal forensic evaluations. If these new clusters and risk factors can be validated by further research into violence recidivism it should be possible to develop a new instrument for assessing violence risk in criminal forensic evaluations of youngsters.