Speech, language and communication needs of youth offenders: perceptions of SLT students
Trigg, Beatrice Hannah
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: There is a growing body of literature highlighting a correlation between Speech Language and Communication needs (SLCN) of young people and an increased risk of offending behaviour. Data have been gathered to suggest a need for Speech and Language Therapists to be involved with young offenders and act within part of a Young Offender’s Team (YOT). Currently efforts are being made by both the government and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) to raise awareness of the correlation between SLCN and young offending and highlight the need for Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) intervention with this population. Despite this, no specific teaching is provided within the undergraduate curriculum into the correlation between young offending and SLCN and a Speech and Language Therapists role within the Criminal Justice system (CJS). Aims: To explore the perceptions OF final year Speech and Language Therapy Students’M on young offenders with Speech, Language and Communication needs. Methods and Procedure: Semi-Structured interviews were carried out with 6 final year Speech and Language Therapy students. The interviews were transcribed and then analysed using thematic analysis. Outcomes and Results: The participants discussed reasons to explain why a young person with SLCN may be at a higher risk of young offending, considering risk factors that are in line with those found in research. All participants were then able to apply theory regarding SLCN in order to consider the impact SLCN may have on a young offender within the CJS and the approaches they would take in terms of SLT with YOs in a YOT. Despite formulating accurate perceptions that have been supported in previous research, the participants varied in their awareness of research and SLT training in this field. Overall the participants reported that they believed the undergraduate SLT training they had received equipped them with the clinical skills and the theoretical knowledge to work with YOs with ii SLCN. However all participants expressed a desire for further information and training regarding the role of a Speech and Language therapist specifically within a YOT. Conclusion: The participants reported perceptions of YOs with SLCN that were in line with findings of current research. The data from this study suggest that despite efforts to raise awareness of SLCN of YOs, final year SLT students have limited awareness and knowledge of YOs as a potential SLT client group. This is something that could be considered in future campaigns as it is important that final year SLT students are aware of all client groups receiving SLT in preparation for practice as a qualified practitioner.
B.Sc.(Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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