Study suggests offending and speech problems link

A study has suggested more than a third of young offenders in Jersey had some form of speech difficulty.

A recent audit by the Health and Probation departments showed 38% of young offenders studied had been referred for speech therapy.

The head of Jersey's speech and language therapy service, Dr Lisa Perkins, said the connection had not been identified before.

Dr Perkins said communication problems can affect a child's life in many ways.

Social skills

Dr Perkins said: "It will often mean that they are not particularly successful in education.

"It also affects the way they develop their social skills and friendships and also the way they are able to negotiate and make the right decisions, and understand the consequences."

The Jersey Probation Service is working with the Speech and Language Therapy Service and Education, Sport and Culture to look at the implications of the growing need for speech therapy in young offenders.

Pam Snow, Associate Professor at Monash University in Melbourne, has been working with Dr Perkins on the study of young offenders in Jersey.

Speaking about the research, Dr Perkins said: "Her work demonstrates that young offenders are at high risk of undetected but clinically significant oral language difficulties."

Known to service

Chief probation officer Brian Heath said: "I was completely unaware of any connection until I heard Dr Snow speak last year... and she presented some very powerful evidence about the link between speech and language difficulties and offending."

The audit looked at offenders under 21 years old and known to the Probation Service and was taken over a specific period of time.

The probation service said they could not reveal the timeframe as it could lead to the identification of some of the people in the sample.

The 38% of young offenders had been referred to the speech and language therapy service at some point in their childhood.

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