An assessment of self-concept and violence within a delinquent adolescent population

Peggy Ann Engram, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to provide further data on the relationship between self-concept and violence focusing on a delinquent adolescent population. Recent research has explored the relationship between self-concept and violence with most of the research being done with adult populations. Within the literature, there are two opposing views on the question of this relationship. The traditional view supports the idea that low self-esteem is a cause of violent behavior while the non-traditional view supports the idea that high self-esteem may be a contributor to violent behavior. Using a sample of 200 delinquent adolescents 100 of whom had committed acts of violence and 100 who had not, a group comparison study was done which addressed the following questions, (1) within a delinquent population of violent and non-violent adolescents, is there a relationship between violence and self-concept? (2) what is that relationship; (3) using the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, can it be determined that attributes such as behavior, anxiety, popularity, happiness, and physical appearance as they relate to self-concept are more predictive than others in determining who within a delinquent population will commit acts of violence. For the purposes of this study, delinquent adolescents were those who had official records of misconduct with either the school or juvenile authorities. Adolescents classified as violent were those who had committed acts such as assault, use of a weapon, use of deadly force, and sexual assault while adolescents classified as non-violent had committed anti-social acts such as, truancy, talking back and rule breaking. The study concluded that there is a relationship between adolescent violence and self-concept. However, there was insufficient statistical evidence that self-concept is a predictor of violence.

Subject Area

Criminology|Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Engram, Peggy Ann, "An assessment of self-concept and violence within a delinquent adolescent population" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9985542.