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Prevention: Juveniles as Potential Offenders

Individualized Treatments

In the early 1900s delinquency prevention was based on individualized case-by-case treatment (Healy). Progressive Era reformers launched well meaning but vague efforts that were ultimately undercut by administrators (Rothman). Individualized treatment was predicated on early identification, using instruments such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (Hathaway and Monachesi), the Glueck Social Prediction Table (Glueck and Glueck), and reports of teachers, police officers, and playground workers (Powers and Witmer) to identify future delinquents. These scales tended to "overpredict" delinquency, misclassifying many youths. This is especially problematic since empirical evidence suggests that intervention treatment for high-risk youths may result in harmful consequences (McCord). Although predictive accuracy has improved over the years, the high "false positive" rate of the assessment tools and the heterogeneous nature of delinquency continue to impede individualized prevention efforts.

Since the 1980s, Multisystemic Therapy (MST) has revived individualized approaches, using treatment teams to address problems in each of the key settings in which the youth is embedded. MST interventions include family treatment to help parents monitor and discipline their children, peer interventions to remove them from deviant peers, and school and vocational interventions to advance their future potential. Some evaluations show reduced arrest rates among MST participants relative to those receiving other services or no treatment (Henggeler).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawPrevention: Juveniles as Potential Offenders - Individualized Treatments, Early Intervention, Older Youths, Community, Juvenile Justice, Evaluation, Conclusion