The Challenge of Providing Effective Interventions for Serious Juvenile Offenders

Copyright 2000 Blair Seitz/West StockTwo views are often expressed about the effectiveness of intervention with serious offenders. According to the risk principle (Andrews et al., 1990), treatment for delinquent behavior is most effective when provided to juveniles who are at highest risk for reoffending. The opposite view is that serious juvenile delinquents are the most hardened and least likely to respond to treatment. The results of this meta-analysis support the first view—that is, serious delinquents can be helped.

On average, the 200 intervention programs studied produced positive, statistically significant effects equivalent to a 12-percent reduction in recidivism. Intervention, therefore, can reduce recidivism. However, it is difficult to know which types of programs to use. The best programs reduced recidivism by as much as 40 percent, whereas others had negligible effects on recidivism. By determining the characteristics of effective intervention, new and better programs can be designed, tested, implemented, and evaluated.

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Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders Juvenile Justice Bulletin April 2000