Learning Disabilities:

The Link to Delinquency Should Be Determined, but Schools Should Do More Now

GGD-76-97: Published: Mar 4, 1977. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1977.

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There is growing evidence indicating a correlation between children with learning problems and children demonstrating juvenile delinquent behavior. Agencies and institutions dealing with juvenile justice and education in five States were visited, and consultants in remedial education conducted numerous psychological tests to derive a sample of learning problems of institutionalized juveniles.

One-fourth of the juveniles tested in the studies had primary learning problems. Academic underachievement was graded as mild, moderate, or severe, corresponding from 2 years below grade level to the absence of all academic skills. Whether these disabilities caused delinquency is uncertain; the question warrants further examination. Ameliorating such disabilities is justified for its own sake; moreover, it just may have the added benefit of reducing delinquency.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The exact relationship of these disabilities to delinquency should be studied. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, in conjunction with the States, should develop comparable prevalence rates of children with learning disabilities, and the resources needed to combat these problems. The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration should require juvenile correctional facilities to make use of diagnostic information helpful to the needs of their charges.

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