Sue E. Eaton


Many studies have been conducted on the prevalence of learning disabilities in the population of juvenile delinquents (Holte, 1972; Broder, Dunivant, Smith, and Sutton, 1981; Meltzer, 1983; Bachara and Zada, 1978). One investigation conducted by the United States Government, found that juvenile delinquents have severe learning problems (Reed and Heilman, 1981).

Learning disabilities appear in eight to 10 percent of all school age children and adolescents. Of that group, 39 to 63 percent show a language disorder syndrome which may negatively affect school learning over a broad range of the curriculum area (Semel and Wiig, 1980). The prevalence of learning disabilities in the juvenile delinquent population is significantly higher. It ranges from 26 to 71 percent (Reed and Heilman, 1981).

Frazee (1979) studied the language performance of juvenile delinquents to determine whether they were significantly different from nondelinquents. Frazee administered the Fullerton Test of Language Performance of Adolescents (FTLPA) (Thorum, 1978) when it was in its field test form. The FTLPA gives results over eight broad language areas. The results showed the delinquents to be significantly lower than the nondelinquents in the area of morphology competency. Frazee indicated that additional research is needed to determine if juvenile delinquents have other deficits in language performance skills which the FTLPA does not assess, or that are so subtle that they require a more in-depth assessment of psycholinguistic language abilities than the FTLPA provides.

The Clinical Evaluation of Language Functions (CELF) (Semel and Wiig, 1980) was used to compare the language abilities of 25 delinquents and 25 nondelinquents. Each subject was evaluated individually with a pure-tone hearing screening, a vision screening, the Advanced Progressive Matrices, Set I, (Raven, 1958) as a screening test for intelligence, and the CELF.

The purpose of the present investigation was to indentify [sic] underlying language disabilities in juvenile delinquents which could be contributing to their inappropriate academic and social behaviors. The data were statistically analyzed using a one-tailed paired t-test to compare the means and standard deviations of the experimental subjects with the control subjects on each of the 11 subtests of the CELF.

The results of this study indicated that juvenile delinquents did demonstrate significantly more errors than nondelinquents in the processing and production of language. The specific language areas in which a significant difference was demonstrated on the CELF were understanding linguistic concepts, critical thinking, long and short term memory, rapid recall of common words, and sentence formulation. The findings of this study suggested that further investigation may be needed to establish a link between language disabilities and juvenile delinquency.

LLU Discipline

Speech Pathology


Speech-Language Pathology


Graduate School

First Advisor

Jean B. Lowry

Second Advisor

Jean E. Maki

Third Advisor

Vern Andress

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Language Disorders -- in adolescence; Juvenile Delinquency



Page Count

iii; 45

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives