Looking Inward: An Examination of the Internal Manifestation of Oppression in Adolescents

Lisa Hutchinson Wallace, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Ruth Seydlitz, University of New Orleans

Differential oppression theory is a relatively new theory of juvenile delinquency, first offered in 1996 by Bob Regoli & John Hewitt. The basic premise of this critical theory is that children are oppresesed through their relationships with adults from the time they are born. This oppression, when optimal levels are reached, results in the utilization of adaptive reactions. The adaptive reactions are based on delinquent behaviors and involve external, as well as internal manifestations of oppression. Internal manifestations often lead to a repressed hatred for adults, which becomes internalized by adolescents, resulting in alcohol and drug use, as well as low self-esteem. This paper fwill focus on the internal manifestations as measured through alcohol and drug use and emotions, such as isolation and self-esteem. Primarily, the paper will discuss the ability of differential oppression theory to explain the internalization of oppression by adoelscents, since empirical research regarding its effectiveness is very limited. Data were originally collected in an attempt to understand the role of oppression in the commission of non-fatal school. Therefore, implications for policies relating to school violence will also be discussed, if time permits.

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Updated 05/20/2006