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NCJ Number: 136565 Find in a Library
Title: Defining a Therapeutic Selfhood for Delinquent Youth: A Covert Participant Observation of a Juvenile Correction Facility
Journal: Child and Youth Care Forum  Volume:20  Issue:4  Dated:(August 1991)  Pages:255-268
Author(s): S M Rose
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 14
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study explored the therapeutic potential of milieu treatment in the field of juvenile corrections through a 10-day, covert participant observation of a short-term correctional facility for 18 boys.
Abstract: The author envisioned that negative peer influence would define the basis of group acceptance and personal growth. He occupied a spare bed in the correctional facility, posing as a 16-year-old first offender convicted of stealing a vehicle. The author adopted an unselfish style of play with the resident boys and displayed a willingness to listen to them. The correctional facility employed a behavioral point earning system through which the boys were expected to earn privileges as individuals and as a group. During the author's short stay, his dorm jumped from third to first place, and he earned over 80 percent of his group's points. The author's presence seemed to have a positive influence on the residents in general, and he emerged as a group leader. During his short career as a juvenile delinquent, the author was forced to take on a role and earn acceptance with the group. His chances for success, however, were greatly enhanced by a broader and more highly developed range of personal values and social skills. He challenged his peers to grow beyond their restrictive identities and attempted to initiate a process of therapeutic engagement. He concludes that creative approaches to the injection of positive peer values into the delinquent subculture may involve a new role for other volunteers and interns or the use of more heterogeneous groupings perhaps with mainstream peers to model prosocial identities. 1 endnote
Main Term(s): Juvenile correctional facilities; Milieu therapy
Index Term(s): Juvenile court jurisdiction; Male juvenile delinquents; Peer influences on behavior
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