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Family Attitude and Social Reintegration of Adolescent Offenders in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo

Abstract: The involvement of adolescents in delinquency is a concern to parents, policy makers and researchers, including social workers. Although there are efforts to reintegrate such adolescents, the role of the family, which is the bedrock of the society remains limited in the process. This study sought to examine the role of family attitude in the social reintegration of adolescent offenders in Kinshasa city. It was grounded on strain theory as proposed by Merton. Mixed methods research focusing on explanatory sequential design was adopted to collect data from a sample of 345 individuals including 330 adolescents and 15 key informants. The study participants were selected from three localities, Limete, Matete and Kisenso, using stratified sampling technique and purposive sampling. Questionnaires, FGDs, and interviews were used in the collection of data. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics with the help of SPSS while thematic content analysis was used to analyse qualitative data. The study found a positive but moderate correlation (r=0.441) between family attitude and social reintegration of adolescent offenders. In addition, the ANOVA test revealed that, family attitude F = 3.628, (p= 0.000) has statistically significant influence on social reintegration of adolescent offenders. This is consistent with adolescents’ perceptions which show that 77.3% of respondents indicated moderate levels of family acceptance attitude. This could explain the recidivism rate of 57.3% among former adolescent offenders in Kinshasa city. Conclusively, poor family attitude characterized by limited attention, feelings among adolescents of not being loved, negatively influence the re-integration process. On the contrary, the acceptance of adolescent offenders by family members paves the way for a successful social reintegration. The study recommends policy reforms regarding the institutionalization of family social work practice in the criminal justice system as well as in family settings in order to improve the care of adolescents faced with anti-behaviour.

Key words: Conflict, Family environment, social reintegration, family support, family attitude, parenting style.


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