Aggression and violence, posttraumatic stress, and absenteeism among employees in penitentiaries

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Dokumentart: Buch (Monographie)
Date: 2008
Source: Onderzoek en beleid ; (2008) 260
Language: English
Faculty: Kriminologisches Repository
Kriminologisches Repository
Department: Kriminologie
DDC Classifikation: 360 - Social problems and services; associations
Keywords: Niederlande , Strafvollzug , Vollzugsbediensteter , Weibliche Vollzugsbedienstete , Gewalt , Posttraumatisches Stresssyndrom
ISBN: 978-90-5454-980-2
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On the basis of the Labour Conditions Act of 18 March 1999, employers are obliged to take care of their employees’ safety and health, and to pursue a policy aimed at creating the best possible labour conditions. The prevention of aggression towards employees falls under this obligation. In November 2005, the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) carried out a large-scale study into the prevalence of aggressive behaviour targeting employees of penitentiaries during their work, which was commissioned by the Judicial Penitentiary Service (DJI) (Bogaerts & Den Hartogh, 2006). One of the remarkable findings of this study was that ‘aggression and violence among employees’ is a frequently occurring phenomenon within the prison system; of the 5,750 responding employees, no less than 641 reported to have fallen victim to one or more forms of aggression and violence among employees in the course of the previous twelve months. In this context, the term ‘aggression and violence among employees’ includes experienced unwanted sexual attention, intimidation, and physical violence. Aggression and violence among employees consists either of incidents between staff members, or of incidents between executive staff members and ordinary staff members. A substantial part of prison personnel is comprised of penitentiary workers (in Dutch, so-called ‘PIW-ers’). In order to improve the safety of penitentiary workers, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the DJI, and the unions have reached an agreement about a reduction of aggression and violence among employees, laid down in the ‘Arboplus Covenant Judicial Penitentiary Service on the Policy on Absenteeism, Integral Personal Safety, and the Career Perspective of Executive Personnel’2. The goal was for this reduction to be brought about halfway through 20073. To enable itself to successfully act upon the agreement, in addition to many actions and measures, the Sector Directorate of the Prison System asked the WODC to conduct an in-depth study on aggression and violence among employees within the penitentiaries. It was decided to examine only personal factors in this study. Organisational and economic factors and the institutional features of organisations that, without any doubt, play an important role in both the prevention and the occurrence of aggression and violence among employees were not studied. Framing mechanisms, for instance, which occur in every organisation, were not included in the study, the importance of this and other concepts notwithstanding. In his book ’Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience’, Goffman writes: “The concept of framing is taken to label schemata of interpretation that allows individuals or groups to locate, perceive, identify, and label events and occurrences, thus rendering meaning, organizing experiences, and guiding actions.” (Goffman, 1974, p. 21) The study ‘Benchmark Penitentiaries’, which will start in the autumn of 2007, will include institutional, organisational, and economic characteristics as well, besides the personal indicators, in order to assess the quality of the penitentiaries. In this way, aggression and violence among employees will not only be linked to personal factors, but will also be related to institutional factors and characteristics specific to the organisation. Another correlation not included in the present study is that between domestic violence (partner violence), violence at work, absenteeism, and the economic costs, even though this correlation is regularly established in the literature (e.g. Reeves & O’Leary-Kelly, 2007; Swanberg, Macke, & Logan, 2007). With this study, the aim of the Judicial Penitentiary Service is to gain insight into the possible effects of aggression and violence among employees and in the factors which are at the roots of it. The DJI is especially interested in absenteeism as a possible effect of aggression and violence among employees, and in the psychosocial factors that play a role. In the present report, we will present the findings of this study. It is set up as follows. In chapter 2, we will examine the potential effects of aggression and violence among employees and the factors at their source, such as can be assumed to exist when we base ourselves on the literature. Next, we will take these findings as the basis for our hypothetical model presented in chapter 3, which will be the starting point for the empirical part of the study. We will also discuss how this model was tested. In chapter 4, we will present de results of this test and we will examine whether it is necessary to break down the model into sub-models. In chapter 5, we will subsequently formulate twelve specific research questions, which deserve further exploration in the researchers’ view, both on the basis of the literature study and of the hypothetical model derived from it. All these questions are in logical keeping with the formulated hypothetical model. Again, we will indicate how these questions were tested. Finally, chapter 6 will provide a summary of the study. In this chapter we will present some conclusions as well.

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