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Sharon Davis reveals goals of delinquents

Sharon Davis spoke on the topic “Get A Job: The Aspirational Dreams and Realities of Incarcerated Delinquent Males.” The Monday lecture, part of the Faculty Lecture Series, focussd on the achievable and unrealistic career goals of juvenile delinquents in the “GenMe “ generation, which includes people born between the years 1982 and 1999. Davis earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in sociology from San Diego State University, and her doctorate in sociology from the University of Southern California. / photo by Allison Lavelle

Jesse Evans
Staff Writer

After they are released from juvenile hall, delinquents have a particularly hard time finding stable careers.

Sharon Davis, professor of sociology, has studied this group for years and shared her findings in “Get A Job: The Aspirational Dreams and Realities of Incarcerated Delin­quent Males” on Monday in the President’s Dining Room.

An audience of approximately 20 students and faculty came to hear Davis’ lecture on her studies of juvenile delinquents’ career goals.

“Most of us have been asked the question, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’” she said. “My focus was on the GenMe generation.”

The GenMe generation is the generation of individuals born in between the years 1982 and 1999.

Davis has experience working with juvenile delinquents in Southern California at a non-secure juvenile placement facility.

“I have the benefit of having access to information on juvenile delinquents,” Davis said. “I can ask questions and get data from them.”

A non-secure juvenile facility is a place where juveniles delinquents go.They are not in a fenced-off area, though they have no access to weapons.

Davis shared with the audience her studies of the career objectives of juveniles and how they are doing once they are finished at the facility with achieving those goals. She said 88 percent of them had goals and 12 percent did not. Of that 88 percent only 45 percent had a realistic achievable goal.

“Of the 12 percent that didn’t have goals, it was due to lack of options, interest and awareness,” Davis said.

For the juveniles in the achievable goals percentile, Davis gave approximately 12 examples of the careers they were interested in. They included trash collector, restaurateur and Navy SEAL.  As unachievable goals, Davis shared about seven examples which included gang lords, drug dealers, pimps and entrepreneurs.

“Some of the students have gone on to live successful lives,” Davis said.

She added that the students with realistic, legal expectations had a higher chance of staying away from prison or jail time.

Davis’ presentation was based on one of the chapters in the book she is working on. The rest of her book is still in production and Davis hopes it will be published in 2012.

“I thought it was very thorough and informative,” freshman criminology major Emmanuel Espana said. “It was interesting how they continued to keep track of the delinquents on what they were doing once they left the facility.”

“The presentation was very realistic and honest,” freshman, psychology major Mysti Dyse said. “The information didn’t leave you on a limb. It applied to us as students and maybe I should have some realistic goals”

Jesse Evans can be reached at

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