Youth offending in Vietnam
: an investigation into the relative importance of different factors associated with youth offending and the implications for intervention

  • Hai Ngoc Nguyen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


There is a great deal of research that aims to explain youth offending in the UK and in other Western countries. However, this is a new area of research in Vietnamese academic literature in criminology. There is very little academic research that aims to explain the factors behind the public and political perception of an increase in youth offending and the increase in prosecutions for some types of offence (physical assault and theft) in Vietnam in recent years. Both the two existing Vietnamese studies based on the collection of primary data are relatively small scale and centre on interviews with young people. One study shows that young people tend to explain their behaviour through external influences, particularly from their peer group. The other study highlights a number of issues, including peer group, community influences and family problems. Most of the current Vietnamese research on youth offending is based on the analysis of official data which is used to illustrate patterns of youth offending, rather than explaining the causes.

The overall aims of the research are to explore the relative importance of different factors associated with youth offending in Vietnam, and thus suggest the implications for intervention. The study is based on a survey of the four national educational institutions where young people (aged 12-18) are incarcerated, if they have committed less serious crimes (such as theft) or are aged 12-14 and have committed a more serious crime (such as robbery or murder). The questionnaire survey included only the young people one ducational programmes (N=2,009) and did not include those on vocational programmes (N=777) for practical reasons. The questionnaire survey was followed up by interviews with young people (N=98) and staff (N=34) across the four institutions. The questionnaire data was subjected to different types of analysis: descriptive statistics,principal components analysis and multi-level modelling. Interview data was analysed through content and thematic analysis.

The different types of data and analysis in this study revealed some differences in emphasis in the relative importance of different factors in the lives of young people and youth offending in the Vietnamese context. For example, interviews with young people focussed more on peer group and individual factors and interviews with staff focussed strongly on family issues. Analysis of the questionnaire survey data revealed the importance of on-line gaming in relation to theft, along with family based issues such as alcohol misuse. Overall, looking across the data and types of analysis, family circumstances (such as poor parenting, homelessness, children running away from home, and alcohol misuse) were the most important in this study. Family circumstances were followed by the accumulation of external factors (such as gaming and peer group influences) and individual characteristics (such as low self-control). Of particular note is the issue of on-line gaming in relation to the association with theft.At a regional level, the multilevel models showed significant differences between provinces in predicting different types of offence: young people originating from Phu Yen are less likely to commit theft, while those from Phu Yen and Tay Ninh are foundto be more likely to be charged for public order offences. Serious crime is more likely to happen in Ho Chi Minh City. More broadly, the study illustrates the consequences of rapid social change in Vietnam; and, the impacts of industrialization, modernization and globalization processes.
Date of AwardOct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorCarol Hayden (Supervisor), Liz Twigg (Supervisor) & Tom Ellis (Supervisor)

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