An Exploratory Study of Juvenile Probation Officer Job Stress and Stress-Related Outcomes
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Job stress in criminal justice occupations has been the subject of research since the mid-1970s. Employees who perceive their jobs as stressful may experience potential negative outcomes related to job stress: higher rates of turnover intent, higher rates of burnout, lower levels of job satisfaction, and lower levels of organizational commitment. These potential negative outcomes can be costly to organizations in terms of budget (salaries and training), productivity, the morale of other employees, and a reduction in terms of the quality of services provided to criminal justice clientele. While all jobs have the potential to be stressful, at least at times, there may be individual characteristics that moderate the relationships between experiencing job stress and the potential negative outcomes that may result from job stress.
There is considerable job stress research conducted with police officer and institutional corrections officer populations. Few studies focus on community corrections, particularly juvenile probation officers. This research addresses the lack of job stress research on juvenile probation officers by surveying a population of juvenile probation officers in the state of Texas.
In general, juvenile probation officers in this sample identified their organizations as being fair, reported high or very high levels of job satisfaction, have a balance between job demands and job control, and only 33.9% reported high levels of stress. Organizational commitment levels were high and turnover intent was low for this sample.
Most of the hypothesized moderating relationships were not supported by the data in this study, with two exceptions: race and ethnicity. Non-white officers reported lower levels of turnover intent when experiencing job stress than white officers. Non-Hispanic officers reported higher levels of job satisfaction when experiencing job stress than Hispanic officers.