A Qualitative Examination of the Risk Factor Prevention Paradigm in Aotearoa, New Zealand

Mr Angus Lindsay1
1Victoria University, Kelburn, New Zealand

Youth crime is worrying to society on many different levels, it argued to challenge beliefs of childhood innocence, and runs counter to a fundamental belief in a ‘good society’, as such there has been significant political focus on youth offending as a criminal justice issue in recent years. This exploratory study examines the socially constructed patterns and characteristics of behaviour that underpin the politically attractive risk-factor prevention paradigm (RFPP) in relation to youth criminality. The RFPP is largely based on the quantification of individual, social and familial deficiencies to assess potential criminality. It ignores wider contextual, historical and structural factors (such as the marginalisation and deprivation of indigenous people imposed by colonial settler states) which may contribute to offending. Critics of the RFPP assert that risk-based methods contribute to the marginalisation and ‘othering’ of certain populations and critique the assumption that the RFPP is neutral and value-free. This co-designed research aims to uncover the ‘real’ risk-factors for offending in a small sample of men (n = 3) who have shared their personal stories and experiences of the youth and adult justice systems in New Zealand. This critical research will reflect on the men’s experiences of racism, ethnic-bias, inequality, unequal power distributions and fractured life-opportunities, as well as abusive state policies. It will also evaluate the extent to which these self-identified risks confirm or challenge the RFPP. Finally, the study will discuss and reflect on preventative factors identified by the participants.


Angus is a criminology student from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. His broad interests are centred on youth crime and green criminology, with a specific interest in the governmentality of certain groups of ‘at-risk’ young people and through state-intervention and benevolence, which serves to reproduce the intersections of marginalisation and deprivation imposed by settler states. He is currently completing an Honours thesis focusing on a qualitative examination of the implications of risk-based crime prevention on deprived young people in Aotearoa.



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