Psychological Risk Factors of Future Drug Offending among Young Offenders in Hong Kong - A Longitudinal Study

  •  Elise S. W. Hung    


In recent years there is a growing concern on drug offenders in Hong Kong. Despite its over-representation in prison and recidivists, drug offending has seldom been studied systematically in risk factor research. The issue as to whether drug offending has specific psychological risk factors or they share a common set of risk factors with general offending remains largely unaddressed. This research applied a longitudinal design to investigate this issue. Using a data-set on young offenders’ psychological characteristics established in 2004 in the Hong Kong Correctional Services, and re-conviction data retrieved 11 years later in 2015, ANCOVA with planned orthogonal contrasts and Discriminant Function Analysis, Correlation and Regression analyses were used to analyze factors predicting post-release outcomes including recidivism, drug offending, and crime severity. Results revealed two sets of psychological risk factors with little overlap that could predict general recidivism (of all types of crime) and future drug offending. Recidivism could be predicted by low Future Time Perspective and Empathy, and high Assertiveness. Low Empathy was predictive of post-release crime severity of non-drug offending recidivists. Drug offending, in contrast, could be predicted by high Impulsiveness and Social Problem-solving deficits during adolescence. These two variables, together with low Assertiveness, also predicted post-release crime severity of drug-offending recidivists. Implications to future intervention and research were discussed.

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