By Howard Liddle E..., April 19 2011
I doubt that there is an influence on the development of antisocial behavior among young people that is stronger than that of the family. (Steinberg, 2000)[i]
The most successful programs are those that emphasize family interactions, probably because they focus on providing skills to the adults who are in the best position to supervise and train the child. (Greenwood, 2009)[ii]
Thanks to many independent reviews, consensus documents, and meta-analyses of the evidence base on how to work effectively with juvenile offenders, there are numerous signs that the specialty has achieved a certain level of maturity.[iii]
A significant part of this new generation of work in the field pertains to the accumulated and rigorously derived findings about the role of families, family relationships, and parenting practices as key aspects of the creation and maintenance,[iv] as well as the reversal of antisocial and other problem behaviors.[v]
For some time, we’ve “known” that it can be beneficial to involve families more substantively and consistently in working with juvenile offenders, as evidenced in this quote: “In this era of an increased focus on public sector accountability, one of the important questions posed to policymakers and elected officials may be ‘Why are you waiting so long to support families?’ ” (Duchnowski, Hall, Kutash, & Friedman, 1998[vi]).
Although many providers of clinical services in juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare might agree that families remain important not only in the day-to-day lives but also in the rehabilitation and treatment of affected youths, the particular ways in which parents, caregivers, and other family members might be involved may be unclear. Sometimes systems issues present barriers to involving families. In other situations, insufficient knowledge about or training in how to engage and work with families might be primary blocks to action.
The adolescent offender’s family relationships have an instrumental role to play in redirecting the life course of youths who are seriously off track. A variety of family-centered, evidence-based practices have illuminated and provided effectiveness evidence for their potential to contribute materially to juvenile justice reform, enrich the professional lives of rehabilitative service providers, and most important, improve the developmental and life chances of juvenile offenders.[vii]
Next week, I hope you can join me for a 90-minute webinar for Reclaiming Futures on the topics I’ve raised in this brief post.
All Roads Lead To...Family Involvement: Why and How to Work with Families of Justice Involved Adolescents
NEW DATE - May 24, 2011 from 11am-12:30pm PT, 2-3:30pm ET (90-minute presentation)
In the course of the webinar, we will:
- Cover the empirical case to be made for including families in the ongoing rehabilitation work with adolescent offenders
- Look at some of the most interesting and clinically relevant research on the characteristics of juvenile offenders and their families;
- Review how criminal offending begins and continues, and -- most critically -- how family and systems-based interventions stop the slide into long term criminal and antisocial careers.
[i] Steinberg, L. (2000). Youth violence: Do parents and families make a difference? National
Institute of Justice Journal, April, 30-38.
[ii] Greenwood, P. (2008) Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. In The Future of Children, Juvenile Justice, Volume 18, Number 2, Fall 2008; www.futureofchildren.org.
[iii] Lipsey, M. W. (2009). The primary factors that characterize effective interventions with juvenile offenders: A meta-analytic overview. Victims & Offenders, 4(2), 124-147; Luckenbill, W. Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System. Family Involvement Subcommittee of the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Workgroup for Models for Change-Pennsylvania and Family Involvement Workgroup of the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officer’s Balanced & Restorative Justice Implementation Committee, October 2009; Charting a new course: A blueprint for transforming juvenile justice in New York State, December 2009.
[v] Chassin, L., Knight, G., Vargas-Chanes, D., Losoya, S., Naranjo, D. (2009). Substance use treatment outcomes in a sample of serious juvenile offenders, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36(2), 183-194.
[vi] Duchnowski, A., Hall, K., Kutash, K., & Friedman, R. (1998). The alternatives to residential treatment study. In M. Epstein, K. Kutash, & A. Duchnowski (Eds.), Outcomes for children & youth with behavioral and emotional disorders and their families. Programs and evaluation best practices (pp. 55-80). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.
[vii] See chapters on Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Family Therapy, and Multidimensional Foster Care Treatment in Weisz, J. & Kazdin, A. (Eds.) (Second Edition). Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents. New York: Guilford Press.
Related Post: Interview: Implementing Multidimensional Family Therapy for Teens in the Justice System
Howard A. Liddle, EdD, ABPP is Professor & Director, Center for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse, University of Miami School of Medicine. He is the primary developer of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an evidence-based approach to treating adolescents struggling with substance abuse. MDFT is listed in SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.
Photo at top: Steven Snodgrass.
Topics: Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment, Evidence-Based Practices, Family Involvement, Juvenile Justice Reform, No bio box
Updated: March 21 2018