Dr. Katherine Lau of the Psychology Department co-authored a research article with collaborators in the Departments of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. The paper is entitled “Perceived police injustice, moral disengagement, and aggression among juvenile offenders: Utilizing the general strain theory model” and was just recently accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development. The reference and abstract are provided below.
Zapolski, T., Banks, D.E., Lau, K.S.L., & Aalsma, M.C. (in press). Perceived police injustice, moral disengagement, and aggression among juvenile offenders: Utilizing the general strain theory model. Child Psychiatry & Human Development.
Although many juvenile offenders report experiencing police injustice, few studies have examined how this source of strain may impact youths’ behavioral outcomes, including risk for future recidivism. This study begins to address that gap in the literature. We applied the general strain theory as our theoretical framework to examine the interactive effect of perceived police injustice and moral disengagement on juvenile aggressive behavior. Our sample included 95 juvenile offenders who completed questionnaires on measures of perceived police injustice and moral disengagement. Results supported our hypothesis, such that moral disengagement predicted past month aggression among juvenile offenders, but only by youth who reported mean and high levels of perceived police injustice. While more research is needed in this area, this study’s findings underscore the need to address both perceived police engagement and moral disengagement among youth at-risk of engaging in delinquent behaviors. Implications for intervention programs are also presented.