Predicting Punitive Disciplinary Techniques among Juvenile Care Workers Based on Ethnicity, Nationality, Religiosity and Belief in a Just World

Inna Levy, Yaacov Reuven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The type of disciplining adolescent wards residing in juvenile residential care facilities receive from staff members has a significant impact. The tendency to use abusive disciplinary techniques can negatively affect the wards, whereas, supportive and positive disciplinary measures tends to contribute to their rehabilitation and wellbeing. Objective: To predict disciplinary technique preferences among the staff, this study focused on the contribution of organizational attributes, cultural factors such as ethnicity, nationality and religiosity, and the cognitive variable of a belief in a just world (BJW). Methods: Two hundred and seventy juvenile care workers from 57 Israeli child welfare institutions (reform boarding schools) participated in the study. The questionnaire addressed personal background, organizational characteristics, BJW and disciplinary techniques. Results: The tendency among juvenile care workers to use specific disciplinary techniques significantly correlated with their BJW. A strong BJW associated with higher tendencies toward punitive disciplinary behavior. Additionally, we found that BJW and institutional characteristics contribute more than ethnicity, and religiosity to predicting disciplinary techniques. Conclusions: The findings have a number of practical implications such as using BJW as an indicator for punitive preference during pre-hiring screening processes. Furthermore, training and guidance can raise awareness to the possibility that the staff’s personal beliefs influence their disciplining techniques. Training and guidance are of particular importance for high-security facility staff. Furthermore, the results suggest that policymakers who wish to promote a more positive disciplining paradigm should address the combination of the staff’s personal beliefs, cultural, and organizational characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-537
Number of pages19
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Belief in a just world
  • Discipline techniques
  • Ethnicity
  • Juvenile care workers
  • Physical punishment
  • Religiosity
  • Youth residential care


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