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In this book a study is presented on the attitudes of 12- to 20-year-old youngsters towards social limits, imposed by their social and educational environment by means of laws, rules, values, norms or expectations. The study is part of a research programme on the course and treatment of juvenile delinquency, which started at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen during the eighties. Young people's attitudes towards social limits are assessed by the 'Standard Reaction Instrument'. A critical incident technique is used to elicit young people's knowledge, behavioral intentions and motivations in ten hypothetical situations including social limits. The instrument was administered from youngsters in secondary schools and from same-aged detained youngsters who have committed at least one criminal offence which has been recorded by police or judicial authorities. The responses of both groups are compared in order to test the validity of the instrument. Further, the relationship is tested between the youngsters' attitudes towards social limits and self-reported delinquent and aggressive behavior. Finally, a comparison is made between the responses of Flemish and Dutch youngsters. Starting point of the empirical study is a social psychological view on juvenile delinquency. In this view, which is based on the self-presentation paradigm developed by the sociologist Ervin Goffman and the early symbolic interactionists, juvenile delinquency is considered as a means of social communication towards significant others (parents, teachers, peers, society). Special attention is paid to the development, maintenance and management of social reputation by the juvenile delinquent.
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Text: English, Dutch
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