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What's the story? An exploration of narrative language abilities in male juvenile offenders

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This paper is concerned with the narrative language (story telling) abilities of a group of juvenile offenders completing community-based court orders in Melbourne, Australia. A convenience sample of 30 male young offenders was compared with 50 male non-offenders attending government high schools in the same region of Melbourne. Participants provided an audiotaped description of a six-frame cartoon (the “Flowerpot Incident”). Samples were transcribed and subjected to story grammar analysis, to examine differences between groups regarding both structural and qualitative adequacy. Young offenders produced narratives which were significantly poorer than those of controls with respect to the presence and adequacy of the seven story grammar elements described by Stein and Glenn (In R. O. Freedle (Ed.), New Directions in Discourse Processing (pp. 53–120) 1979). Findings are discussed in relation to implications for investigative and evidentiary interviewing.
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Keywords: Juvenile offenders; interviewing; language; narratives

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Health and Environment, School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia 2: Deakin University, Australia

Publication date: 01 September 2005

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