Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Individuals, Families, and Groups


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Eliana Suarez

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Martha Kumsa

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee member



The rates of reoffending for Ontario youth are high and come at a significant cost to both society and the youths involved. Research to date has explored risk and protective factors. Despite this progress, the relationships between these factors and recidivism are not well understood. Knowing that a youth is exposed to any of these identified risk or protective factors does little to explain why these factors do not affect all youth equally and why some youths reoffend while others do not. Resilience theory has increasingly been used as the framework to explore the concept of recidivism. The present study investigates what makes youths successful in not reoffending and explores the ways in which they are resilient. A qualitative methodology involving in-depth interviews offered participants the opportunity to offer their own perspectives. Data were generated from ten youth participants who were residing in a secure custody facility in Ontario at the time of the study. The findings highlighted the complexity of factors that influence whether a given youth will offend and/or reoffend or not. The experiences of the ten youths in this study demonstrated that many of those influences were external and in particular structural or societal level barriers. The suggestion has been made that both the study of recidivism and interventions with at-risk youth would benefit from further enhancement of resilience theory through the inclusion of societal context and the incorporation of structural and cultural violence perspectives.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons