Academic research finds no differences between Czech and Romani pupils' delinquent behavior
According to a new study performed by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with the Institute for Psychology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and published in the prestigious Journal of Criminal Justice, no differences were found between Czech and Romani pupils attending the same schools when it came to alcohol use, school misconduct, or theft. The website of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic reported on the publication on 2 May.
"We believe our study contributes results that contradict the generally widespread, negative view of Romani youth. Defying such expectations, the Romani children in our study did not show a higher degree of alcohol use, school misconduct or theft in comparison with their Czech, non-Romani peers," said Professor Alexander T. Vazsonyi of the University of Kentucky, the lead author of the new study published in the top journal.
The data were collected by a team from the Institute of Psychology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic led by Professor Marek Blatný. The research involved several primary schools in Brno, Jihlava and Ostrava.
The sample involved 239 Romani pupils and 139 non-Romani pupils. It researched how both negative and positive reinforcement by caregivers, as well as self-control, influence pupils' problematic behaviors, specifically alcohol use, school misconduct, and theft.
The results demonstrate that the rearing of children in both non-Romani and Romani families serves very similar functions - a high degree of positive reinforcement is correlated with a high level of children's self-control, and high levels of self-control are correlated with lower degrees of problematic behavior. No differences were found between Czech and Romani children in terms of the overall degree of problematic behavior.
The non-Romani and Romani children studied came from families with similar backgrounds - most of their parents had completed secondary education and were employed. "The study focused on Romani adolescents from more integrated environments attending mainstream primary schools. This part of the Romani population does not fit the typical Romani stereotype and is frequently ignored by research even though such persons may actually comprise most of the Romani population in any given place. We believe, therefore, that this study provides a more precise picture of the developmental characteristics of Romani adolescents in comparison with works that focus exclusively on high-risk groups," said Gabriela Kšiňan Jiskrová, a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky who is the second author of the study.
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