AN ILLINOIS STUDY SHOWED THAT 40% OF JUVENILE OFFENDERS WERE INCARCERATED AS ADULTS BEFORE AGE 25
Studies have demonstrated that there are better options than rehabilitation, restitution, probation, and other restorative approaches for juvenile offenders. Although they demonstrate more positive outcomes than traditional incarceration, the evidence is still not consistent. However, the use of individual therapy, education about interpersonal skills, and behavior modification have both positive outcomes and consistent evidence.
Our approach uses all these components to create a new, integrative approach to aiding juvenile offenders. We use education through custom courses to increase knowledge about both the offense and interpersonal skills to help increase understanding, the ability to socialize appropriately, and develop the foundation for emotional regulation skill building. We use individualized therapy to target the underlying reasons for the discretion, creating insight and allowing the juvenile to take responsibility for their actions more fully. Additionally, the individualize therapy allows for the development, practice, and mastery of the interpersonal and emotional regulation skills learned through the courses. Lastly, the individualized therapy can be used to address the family dynamics and work with the parents/caregivers to provide support, psychoeducation, and behavior modification plans to help the juvenile be more successful.
By addressing the juvenile as an individual and giving them the education, support, and tools to create a better version of themselves, we provide a more effective program. Without understanding the reason behind the reason, i.e a lack of emotional control, low self-esteem, etc., we address more than just the surface. Research and studies support the idea that addressing only the behaviors, rather than the reason behind the behavior, does not successfully modify the behavior. There must be a multi-pronged approach to help address each individual component of the behavior. which is exactly what makes our program different and effective.
An example of how our program is different.
Scenario 1: The traditional approach
A 15 year old student gets in trouble for vandalism, gets suspended from school and charges pressed against him. He goes to court and is given either time in the juvenile detention center or 40 hours community service. He completes his punishment while on a 2-week suspension from school. When he returns to school, he realizes how far behind he has fallen and decides there is no reason to put the effort in, as he believes he will fail the class regardless. He fails the academic year and is told he must repeat the year. He slowly stops coming to school and begins spending time with older kids who encourage the negative behavior. By 18, he is incarcerated with very little prospect for a more positive future.
Scenario 2: The restorative justice/alternative program approach
A 15 year old student gets in trouble for vandalism, gets an in-school suspension and charges pressed against him. The court orders restorative justice and the student is forced to repaint the vandalism and clean all the walls of the building he vandalized. He does not fall behind in his classes nearly as much as regular suspension, though struggles with the coursework and becomes discouraged. He continues his negative behavior and continues to get in trouble for vandalism and is put into an alternative school. The alternative school helps for a short time, though he then makes friends with another student who negatively influences him to continue his vandalism. Although he successfully graduates high school, the vandalism and criminal behavior continues until he is 18 and finally is charged as an adult and incarcerated due to the constant reoccurrence. When finally released, struggles to hold a normal job and returns to criminal behavior and re-incarcerated.
Scenario 3: Our approach
A 15 year old student gets in trouble for vandalism with charges pressed against him. The court and the school agree to use a 3 day suspension, where he must complete 24 hours of our courses - 12 for emotional regulation and interpersonal skills and 12 for the act of vandalism. He also begins individual therapy. It is discovered that he has ADHD, which has led to a struggle with emotional regulation. He is provided the proper medication, taught emotional regulation skills, and processes new plans to manage school and life. He is able to return to school with a more positive outlook and catches up from his missed work. He utilizes his coping skills learned through the courses and therapy to keep him on track and out of the criminal justice system. He continues with a positive, healthy lifestyle after high school.
Other programs charge obscene prices for courses that have regurgitated information that has very little effect on the juvenile. Our courses are priced at a reasonable rate and have been developed with the intention to educate, not just inform. Additionally, the mental health services can be covered by insurance. Contact us for specific rates and contact your insurance company to see if services can be covered. A sliding scale is available, as well.