Youth, Communities, and Crime Research Group

The Youth, Communities, and Crime Research Group conducts research projects in collaboration with local community organizations, juvenile justice systems, community behavioral health centers, and academic settings. The goal of our lab's efforts is develop greater understanding about youth and families, the neighborhoods they live in, and the organizations that serve them. We focus on clarifying the relationships among problematic behaviors in youth, parent and peer relationships, the influences of neighborhood characteristics, and how service providers interact with youth and families to address problem behaviors.

The Places I Go and How I See Them: Teens' Perceptions of their Home Neighborhoods and Routine Activity Spaces

We are currently collecting surveys with youth recruited from high schools and after school programs in the city of Toledo and at least one suburb. Youth provide their perspectives on their home neighborhoods and other spaces where they routinely spend time, and identify locations using Google Earth. Analyses will examine differences in how youth from urban and suburban neighborhoods conceptualize "neighborhood", how they use their local spaces, and their perceptions of safety and connection. Census and local crime data will be overlaid their hand-generated maps to draw connections between their perceptions of their spaces and objective indicators.

We are preparing a pilot study to examine how smartphone-enabled data collection expands the research questions examined in the primary study. Teens in the smartphone study will complete brief surveys on their activities, spaces, and well-being 2-3 times daily. Their locations will be tracked every 5 minutes to provide an objective measure of where they spend time, and at the conclusion of a week they will be re-interviewed to obtain their subjective perspectives of these locations.

Evaluations of Juvenile Justice Programs

We are currently concluding a four-year evaluation of a community-based program for high-risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system, and in recent years conducted two evaluations of re-entry services provided to youth released from juvenile detention in Lucas County, funded by Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Department of Justice. In addition, we evaluated court Assessment Center services provided to low-risk youth, and are building on this data to examine patterns of risk for recidivism over time. These evaluations include use of qualitative and quantitative methods, focus on youth and parent views of the services they received through the court and related programs, and improvements in their long-term outcomes including reductions in recidivism. 

The overall goals of this program of study are to contribute to literature predicting outcomes among justice-involved youth, while collaborating with local court and community partners to make our findings useful as they develop new programs.

Goal-setting, future planning, risk and protect factors in justice-involved youth

We recently completed a study collecting surveys with justice-involved youth, focused on how social support, impulsivity, and other factors predict youths' goal-setting and future planning abilities. Secondary research questions include peer and parent-related variables predicting mental health outcomes and recidivism, as well as the role of routine activities and neighborhood factors. This project began in January 2020 with face to face surveying and transitioned to online-based surveying due to COVID-19.


Carolyn J. Tompsett, Ph.D.

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Page updated: September, 2023

Updated: 09/15/2023 02:46PM