A comparative study of the characteristics of juvenile Mexican-American solvent inhalation offenders and juvenile Mexican-American non-offenders in Harris County, Texas




Barton, Connie Balsley,1952-

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The primary purpose of this study was to identify the variables that are a significant influence in the life of the young male Mexican-American solvent inhalation offenders from Harris County, Texas. It was anticipated that the findings of the study could be used to improve the prevention and treatment methods currently used for solvent inhalation offenders. The variables examined in the study included basic data such as education level of the juvenile and number of siblings in the juvenile’s home. Information pertaining to the interaction between the juvenile and his family, teachers, and acquaintances was also obtained. Ethnic factors were examined, also, to determine which, if any, ethnic factors influenced the young male Mexican-American to sniff intoxicants. Methodology The data gathered in this study were obtained by interviewing thirty young male Mexican-American intoxicant sniffers and thirty young male Mexican-American non-sniffers. The solvent inhalation offender was defined as being a Mexican-American male between that ages of thirteen and seventeen who may have had one or more official incidents of solvent inhalation, and who had had several unofficial incidents reported by parents, teachers, relatives or by the offender himself. The youths in group one, intoxicant sniffers, and group two, non-sniffers, were matched in age. All interviews were structured through the use of a questionnaire form. Interviews were conducted by the author and staff members from Casa de Amigos Drug Abuse Agency cooperating in gathering data. Selection of juveniles to be included in the sample was done by a pseudo-random sampling technique. It was decided that this technique would provide the most representative sample from the population. The sample of offenders was derived from the offenders participating in the Casa de Amigos counseling program for the intoxicant sniffers. The sample of non-offenders was obtained from the population of Mexican-American males attending bi-weekly tryouts for the Magnolia YWCA basketball teams. After the subject were interviewed, all data was analyzed through the utilization of the Sam Houston State University computer. The continuous variables were analyzed by t-ratio analysis to determine whether there was a significant difference in the means of group one and group two on the continuous variables. The discrete variables were analyzed by chi square analysis to learn which of the discrete variables showed a significant interaction with the life of the solvent inhalation offender. All results with a probability of .05 or less were considered significant. Findings 1. The study indicates that there is a significant correlation between thirty-two variables and the life of the solvent inhalation offender. 2. There appear to be significant differences in the family life, ethnic characteristics, scholastic ability, and activities of the intoxicant offenders and non-sniffers. 3. The typical solvent inhalation offender is likely to come from a broken home where only one parent is present. The family of the offender is not close and participates in few family activities. Usually the juvenile and his parents do not communicate very well, and the juvenile wants to leave home and may have already done so several times. 4. The intoxicant sniffer is very likely to live in a Mexican-American neighborhood, and spend much time with a gang of Mexican-American friends, He usually does not get along with Anglos and feels that they discriminate against him. They typical offender is present time oriented and believes in machismo, the dominant male role of physical strength and adventurousness. 5. The scholastic ability of the solvent inhalation offender is very poor. The juvenile dislikes school competition and experiences many failures at school. Many offenders quit school, and those who attend have poor attendance records, and poor grades, also. The intoxicant sniffer is usually indifferent towards teachers and may actually dislike them. 6. The typical Mexican-American solvent inhalation offender participates in few legitimate organized activities and usually does not attend church very frequently. The juvenile has usually been involved in a number of illegal activities and may have been on probation or lived in a correctional facility.



Glue sniffing, Juvenile delinquency, Texas, Houston