No. V (1972)

Findings of the Research among Boys

Published 1972-09-04


  • social maladjustment,
  • boys,
  • youth,
  • criminological research

How to Cite

Kołakowska-Przełomiec, H. (1972). Findings of the Research among Boys. Archives of Criminology, (V), 32–83.


The boys examined in the l967/68 school year (the first year in which the educational authorities registered this category of youth) were older than the subjects in the following year. As has been already indicated, 43 per cent of the boys in 1967/68 had passed their 17th birthday, compared to only 23 per cent in 1968/69. It is worth noting, however, that the number of l5-year-olds was small, only 23 and 36 per cent respectively.

Since only a third of all the subjects were at least 17 at the time of registration, the question of the employment of these boys in the period preceding their referral to vocational school is not worth entering into. The basic point is connected with the course of their school attendance – the degree to which the process of education at elementary school was disrupted and the length of time these boys had been out of school (among those who had completed the 7th grade and also those who had discontinued attendance at a normal vocational school).

The surveys revealed the important fact that only a small percentage of the youth described as “out of school and out of work” had in actual fact been absent from school for a period of more than six months (including the summer holiday): in the two succeeding years the number of boys of this kind was 28 and 21 per cent, while the number who had no breaks in school attendance whatsoever was 33 per cent in the first year and as much as 77 per cent in the next.

On the other hand, the process of education had been highly disturbed: among the subjects attending one-year vocational schools only 21 per cent had no record of retardation at elementary school, and barely one per cent in the two-year schools.

Among the boys attending the one-year schools 28 and 24 per cent had dropped two years behind, and 11 and 18 per cent three years or more.

The boys in the two-year schools who had completed only 4 - 6 grades were of course even more retarded: in 1967/68 retardation of two years was shown by 28 per cent and in 1968/69 by 45 per cent, and three years or more by 52 and 39 per cent respectively.

As many as 70 – 80 per cent of all the subjects had been systematically truant from elementary school, and about two-thirds had long-lasting disciplinary difficulties.

In considering these boys’ failures at school, attention should be given to the results of tests of their achievement level and of their scores in the Raven’s Progressive Matrices.

On the whole the subjects’ achievement level in mathematics differed markedly from that of a comparative sample of children in corresponding grades of elementary school. Bad marks in mathematics were scored by 62 and 64 per cent of the boys in the one-year schools and 83 and 86 per cent of the boys in the two-year schools.

There were also considerable differences in achievement in Polish between the subjects and the control group. Particular emphasis should be given to the bad scores recorded in silent reading and comprehension tests not only by many of the boys in the two-year schools who had not completed the 7th grade but also by many of the boys in the one-year schools.

This low achievement level in basic subjects was undoubtedly a serious obstacle to learning progress for the majority of the subjects, not only earlier at elementary school, but also at vocational school.

Raven’s Progressive Matrices testing, first of all, reasoning ability revealed in 1967/68 a larger percentage of boys with low and very low scores than in the control group. The subjects in the one-year schools had better scores than the subjects in the two-year school. In the following year, 1968/69, however, the percentage with low and very low scores decreased, though it remained higher among the boys attending two-year schools than one-year schools.

The Raven’s Progressive Matrices scores do not, however, explain all the reasons for the boys’ great degree of school retardation, since there was a fairly large group which had good and very good scores. Their failure at school must be connected with other factors than low reasoning ability. These may be deficiencies in other mental abilities, personality disorders, neglect at home, etc.

In examining the degree of social maladjustment (the criteria were discussed earlier) of the boys surveyed in 1967/68 it was found that:

1) only 28 per cent of the boys could be judged seriously socially maladjusted; they displayed a number of symptoms of marked demoralization and committed offences (theft);

2) 35 per cent could be called moderately maladjusted: they had been out of school or out of work longer than six months, had been frequently truant, and some of them also displayed other symptoms of maladjustment of a less marked order:

3) a relatively large group (36 per cent) were boys who by and large displayed only symptoms of school maladjustment, and symptoms of demoralization only sporadically.

It should be added that the number of seriously maladjusted boys was much smaller in the one-year schools (25 per cent) than among those who had not completed the 7th grade and had been placed in the two-year schools (33 per cent).

It is worth drawing attention to the fact that boys with various Raven scores and various achievement levels in basic subjects can be found in similar percentages both among the group of boys only  slightly socially maladjusted and the group of boys moderately or seriously maladjusted.

However, the more socially maladjusted boys had worse home backgrounds than the others and no doubt suffered from greater personality disorders since they had already earlier caused more serious disciplinary problems. The greater degree of maladjustment among this groups of boys who had made bad progress at school was, therefore, affected by factors connected with personality and home background.

It should be noted that 34 per cent of the subjects in 1967/68 and 33 per cent in 1968/69 came from broken homes. Fathers who were excessive drinkers (alcohol addicts among them) constituted 41 per cent of the total, and the number of brothers (over ten years of age) who displayed various symptoms of social maladjustment came to 30 per cent. Bad material conditions were found in almost half the homes of the subjects.

The surveys revealed that the percentage of boys “out of school and out of work” who had appeared before juvenile courts was relatively small. Among the total number of subjects (432), only 28.4 per cent had been prosecuted before being directed to vocational school. In the period of attendance to vocational school and later a total of 39 boys were convicted, but only 14 of those had previous convictions. The percentage of boys brought to court rose only very slightly to 31.7 per cent, and it should be emphasized that the percentage of recidivists with three or more cases among the total number convicted came to only 24 per cent (including juvenile court appearances). A large majority of the subjects are therefore boys who were not seriously delinquent even though they displayed a whole series of symptoms of social maladjustment.

The careers of the boys after placement in vocational schools are basically contingent on the degree of their social maladjustment, and only this, and not appearance in court, forms the proper criterion for assessing the difficulties encountered by efforts to normalize these boys.

Although the subjects’ attendance at the vocational schools was not regular and there was a considerable degree of absenteeism from the practical training periods, while a large percentage (53 and 41 per cent in the two succeeding years) failed to complete the vocational course on time, follow-up studies showed that only a third of the subjects in 1967/68 and a fifth in 1968/69 had not subsequently continued their education or entered employment. These boys, in the case of whom attempts at rehabilitation had been wholly unsuccessful, did not exceed 25 per cent of the total of 432. Virtually all of them came from the group of subjects with serious prior social maladjustment who had long displayed advanced symptoms of demoralization.