Design and Method

SYRP is the only national survey that gathers data directly from youth in custody, using anonymous interviews. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) funded Westat to design the survey in 2000 and 2001 and then funded the national study in 2002.

SYRP surveys offender youth between ages 10 and 20, drawing a nationally representative sample from all youth in State and local facilities that were identified by OJJDP’s other large statistical surveys: the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement and the Juvenile Residential Facility Census.

SYRP interviewed youth from a selection of 205 eligible, responsive facilities listed on the census as of September 2002. The survey team interviewed 7,073 youth between the beginning of March and mid-June 2003. Surveys were electronic, and used an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) system to ask questions and record answers. 

When using this system, youth wear headphones and hear a prerecorded interviewer’s voice “read” the words on the screen. Youth indicate their response choice by touching it on the screen. The computer program automatically navigates to the next appropriate question, based on the youth’s earlier answers, storing all the data anonymously and securely. This method makes participation possible even for youth with very poor literacy skills. (Download Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Administered Interview (ACASI) for more information).

Statisticians assigned weights to reflect the sampling probabilities of the facility and the youth respondents and to adjust for nonresponse. In this way, the survey of 7,073 provided accurate estimates of the size and characteristics of the national youth offender population in custody (estimated as more than 100,000 youth).

To date, the SYRP has been conducted only once. This website provides all available information on the survey.

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