Early Intervention Reducing Recidivism Among Children

Last Updated: 08 Aug 2020
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Early Intervention

Student name: Kate O’Reilly Course name: CCJ10 Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Enrollment: External, Griffith University Course convener: Dr. Myesa Knox Mahoney

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So it has been widely accepted that children and adolescents with antisocial behavior are a societal problem. Antisocial behavior is characterized by violent offenses such as robbery and assault causing harm to not only its victims but to society as well. Society pays the price for a crime not only in the loss of personal effects and medical costs but also in the cost of incarceration to the taxpayers. It is the antisocial behavior, that is targeted in early interventions, in an attempt to diminish delinquency. Studies have been undertaken that provide evidence that intervention is effective and benefits the whole of society. In this essay, the focus will be drawn specifically to intervention and it’s part in curbing recidivism in juvenile offenders. The impact of early intervention for young offenders will be explored in detail, and some examples of early interventions, how and why they work, will be examined and this research will support the success of early interventions and their effectiveness in fighting recidivism. In exploring the rationale of young offenders we uncover reasons why early intervention can lessen the rate of recidivism and in some cases effectively quell re-offending. Research has been conducted showing that the brain's growth does not stop before at least the early twenties.

This means that adolescents are far more likely to act before considering the consequences, they are impetuous, and easily influenced by their peers. Now more than ever campaigners for youths are working towards less punishment and more importantly far more opportunity for intervention or rehabilitation. Research into crime has shown that criminal activities occurring in adulthood have been found to follow a youth’s career in criminal activity and antisocial behavior, developing into an adult re-offender. Youth offenders show predictors early in life that includes the sex, race, and ethnicity of the juvenile, as well as aggression, and antisocial behavior in childhood. They can be coerced to offend simply because of stressors in their lives. In some cases, studies have enabled prediction of delinquency that can then allow prevention of youth involvement in the juvenile justice system altogether.

Where this is not the case and a young person is incarcerated, early intervention is required to curb re-offenders. Mentally ill juveniles will offend three times as often as other juveniles, and for these offenders, imprisonment can be fruitless causing a significant increase in symptoms instead of reversing environmental damage and improving their skills as it is intended. This puts them further at risk are mentally ill juveniles, for whom demanding life events, such as loss of job or family breakdown, will often lead to violence as a response. For these mentally ill youths, social opportunities can be limited, they will have difficulty finding a job, stable accommodation, and a support network. There often limited opportunities for intervention before the fact. Because of this, some offenders tend towards homelessness and crimes of survival such as shoplifting and trespassing, some committing these non-violent crimes as a way of seeking intervention they would not otherwise have access to.

Symptoms of mental illness include; impulsivity and impaired judgment and can cause already hotheaded youths to act in antisocial ways. A form of intervention that continually arises in research looking at young offenders is the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy or modification. Cognitive Behavioural therapy is founded on social learning and adopts the theory that offenders have learned unsuitable ways of behaving due to their environment. Many intervention plans include this type of treatment, sometimes coupled with psychiatric treatments. Cognitive-behavioral techniques encourage offenders to think through a situation, instead of ensuring their immediate response. A reaction that can often be impetuous and self-centered attitudes that increase the likelihood of anti-social behavior. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, an offender's learning is conditioned, they are trained to eradicate maladaptive actions.

Cognitive, rehabilitation or intervention programs aim to bring changes to youth offenders. Young adults, who spend time incarcerated, carry with them a high likelihood of recidivism when they return from correctional facilities and attempt to transition back into society. Research has provided a variety of reasons as too why juveniles find it so difficult when re-engaging with society, one important reason explained by James et al, is that not only are they coming to terms with the challenges of relocation from a juvenile facility back into everyday life but they are doing this while simultaneously coping with the move from adolescents into adulthood. Helmond et al. , Discusses an intervention program constructed by cognitive-behavioral therapy called EQUIP, a program designed to communicate to young antisocial offenders who would be reintegrating into society, ways of acting, and thinking responsibly. The EQUIP program is used in correctional facilities all over the world.

EQUIP incorporates a positive peer culture in which parties want to support others due to developing feelings of responsibility for them. The main focus of EQUIP is to address mental misrepresentation, deficiencies, and social and moral skills. A private not-for-profit agency, Hillside in the US, is a provider of intervention services for mentally ill young people and their families or guardians. This program includes community-based services and a residential treatment facility, which treats participants under a program called Interpersonal Skills Program. Treatment through this program includes the structured framework, group therapy, and individual therapy as well as family therapy. Hillside’s program works on cognitive-behavioral treatment focusing on mental distortions, managing and assessing risk as well as avoiding situations leading to relapse. For those adolescents in the justice system who require treatment for substance abuse, this can be a form of early intervention as offenders can be sent to juvenile drug court.

Substance abuse treatment programs in collaboration with the juvenile justice system provide this method of intervention where youths are educated and put through an intensive program of rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. High recidivism amidst adolescents has encouraged the government to provide funding from the government to develop and maintain re-integration as intervention, following the lack of success using probation-only in the attempt to prevent adolescents re-offending. James, et al., found that this type of program referred to as aftercare has had great success when starting a program during incarceration and when aimed at youths with a high risk of re-offending. Another successful aftercare program was developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is called Reclaiming Futures. The program Reclaiming Futures deploys affirmative youth development and leadership building and efforts on leadership expansion in the community, a community that can offer assistance to bridge life in incarceration to life in society through constructive growth activities.

Something that Reclaiming Futures does well is brings together suitable intervention and the needs of the adolescent offenders, and this provides an empathetic network around young people with the result being rarer occasions of violations when in parole Early interventions have been found to reduce the rate of recidivism when they target young offenders. As evidence suggests a career criminal is likely to begin offending as a child, not suddenly as an adult. Therefore intervention that targets change of behaviors, physically and mentally at an early age, proves effective. Intervention is successful at an early age because medically, an individual’s brain does not stop developing until their late twenties. As a result, adolescents can react impulsively to situations, leading to antisocial and criminal behavior then ultimately to prosecution. The chances of this situation arising are heightened in mentally ill youths however, by incorporating the various approaches of early intervention a program can be planned base on an individual needs assessment.

This plan is determined by the offense committed, and requirements of the youth, and allows positive outcomes to be achieved. All research suggests that affirmative results are the product of early interventions.


  1. Buchen, L. (2012).
  2. Gibbs, J. C., Potter, G. B., Barriga, A. Q. & Liau, A. K. (1996).
  3. Helmond, P. , Overbeek, G. & Brugman, D. (2012).
  4. Hollin, C. R. & Palmer, E. J. (2009).
  5. http://dx.doi.org/10. 1080/10683160802190871  James, C., Stams, G. J. J. M., Asscher, J. J., De Roo, A. K. & Van Der Laan, P. H. (2013).

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Early Intervention Reducing Recidivism Among Children. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/early-intervention-reducing-recidivism-among-children-and-adolescent-offenders/

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