Youth correctional officer orientation and opinions on relationships with youth
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This study explored the personal perspectives of current and past youth correctional officers within secure and open custody facilities in Ontario. A multi-methods design was used to examine officers’ orientation to their work, how they view their interactions with youth and their opinions on relationships with youth in custody. Quantitative data was collected to assess demographics, correctional orientation, and officer typology. Qualitative open-ended survey responses probed exploratory areas of interest such as participants’ descriptions of their day, their thoughts on relationships with youth, and their general approach to their work. Although there was a small sample size (N=26), the results indicated that there may be some important relationships between correctional orientation and beliefs around relationships in youth correctional officers. As suggested in previous literature, youth correctional workers report their job as including various tasks ranging from supervision and security to cleaning and preparing meals. There are also indications of differences in correctional orientation and endorsements for relationship development with youth for those who see treatment as part of their role in rehabilitation and those who do not. Additionally, there does not appear to be the groupings of officer types in this youth correctional worker sample as is seen in adult correctional workers. This exploratory study provides a starting point for understanding the unique experiences and duties of youth correctional workers, their correctional orientation, and their views on relationship development with youth. Future research will focus on replicating these findings with a larger sample size.