Combatting Juvenile Delinquency: The Use of Violence Prevention and Treatment Programmes for Young Offenders
Authors: Thomas Ross and María Isabel Fontao
Abstract: Correctional research has shown that young offenders have different treatment and programming needs than adult offenders. A large number of specific treatment and violence prevention programs for young offenders have been developed and applied in many countries. The majority of these programs are of the "cognitive skills type", i.e. they aim at enhancing cognitive and social skills, which are often deficient in young offenders. Modern treatment programs attend to the criminogenic needs of offenders, such as impulsivity or poor affect control, empathy deficits, low levels of socio-moral reasoning, substance use and poor problem-solving skills; a style of delivery that young offenders will find interesting and engaging; and flexibility in its administration in order to take into account potentially small custodial sentences. Programs of this type teach young offenders cognitive-behavioral skills that enable them to take their time, i.e. to stop and think before they act, in order to resolve socially complex and potentially "dangerous" situations. Focussing on treatment programs, this review provides a brief overview of the history of (young) offender treatment and some of the most common treatment and violence prevention models for young offenders.