Date of Conferral
In 2015, approximately 62,400 juveniles in the United States were court-ordered to be on probation. Juvenile probation officers (JPOs), who monitor these juveniles, are responsible for intake assessments, predisposition reports, and working with juvenile delinquents and their families. Aspects of JPOs’ job duties, such as excess paperwork and lack of managerial support, can create stress. To address the relative lack of research on JPOs’ stress, particularly the limited research in rural settings, this qualitative case study examined JPOs’ stress in rural corrections offices in South Dakota. The study examines JPOs’ perceptions of causes of their stress and their responses to stressful situations. Drawing on data from semi structured interviews, the transtheoretical theory of stress was used to interpret the data and compile codes, categories, and themes related to appraisals and coping. Three JPOs’ were chosen from 3 rural South Dakota probation offices, and they had to be employed with the Department of Corrections for at least six months. In addition, an analysis of workplace documents related to job duties and stress management resources provides information about JPOs’ contexts and work environments related to stress. The findings from this study show that JPOs working in rural areas experience stress related to interacting with juveniles’ home environments, isolation, employment, and safety, and that they have many ways of coping with stress, but nearly all of their coping strategies are connected to their home and personal lives. The results of this study have the potential to inform scholarship on stress reduction programs or coping strategies in the corrections environment and to make a difference in rural South Dakota juvenile probation departments and more broadly in other rural contexts, by identifying stressors for JPOs as well as the stress-reduction or coping strategies that are currently practiced.