John J. Wilson, Acting Administrator April 2000

Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders

Mark W. Lipsey, David B. Wilson, and Lynn Cothern


Selection Procedures

Methods of Analysis and Findings

Interventions for Noninstitutionalized Juveniles

Interventions for Institutionalized Juveniles

Effectiveness of Treatment Types

The Challenge of Providing Effective Interventions for Serious Juvenile Offenders

For Further Information


This Bulletin is based on "Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders: Synthesis of Research" by Mark W. Lipsey and David B. Wilson, a chapter in Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions, edited by Rolf Loeber and David P. Farrington (Sage Publications, Inc., 1998). Refer to the chapter for more information about the meta-analysis discussed in this Bulletin, including its methodology, the quantitative data produced, and a complete bibliography of the 200 studies selected.

Mark W. Lipsey, Ph.D., is Professor of Public Policy and Codirector of the Center for Evaluation Research and Methodology at Vanderbilt University, Institute for Public Policy Studies, Nashville, TN. David B. Wilson, Ph.D., is Jerry Lee Assistant Research Professor with the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park. Lynn Cothern, Ph.D., is a Senior Writer-Editor for the Juvenile Justice Resource Center in Rockville, MD.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

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From the Administrator

Although research indicates that intervention programs can reduce overall recidivism rates among juvenile offenders, inadequate attention has been paid to their impact on serious juvenile offenders.

This Bulletin describes a meta-analysis that addresses the following questions: Can intervention programs reduce recidivism rates among serious delinquents? If so, what types of programs are most effective?

While the effects measured across the 200 studies reviewed varied considerably, there was an overall decrease of 12 percent in recidivism for serious juvenile offenders who received treatment interventions.

The Bulletin describes the intervention programs that showed the strongest, most consistent impact on recidivism for serious juvenile offenders. The most effective interventions were interpersonal skills training, individual counseling, and behavioral programs for noninstitutionalized offenders, and interpersonal skills training and community-based, family-type group homes for institutionalized offenders.

The information provided by this Bulletin and by the final report of OJJDP's Study Group on Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders, cited by the authors as a resource, should guide efforts to provide effective intervention programs for serious juvenile offenders.

John J. Wilson
Acting Administrator


NCJ 181201

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