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“Diversion” schemes encouraging children and young people away from offending have successfully reduced the numbers of young people within the youth justice system. However, for those not successfully diverted, recidivism remains obstinately high. Many of those remaining in the youth justice system appear to have complex psychological needs. Research has also shown that many of this group have experienced a high number of adverse childhood experiences. Investigation into the potential consequences of these experiences suggests the potential disruption of normative adolescent psychological growth. Domains may include emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal development. This review assesses the effectiveness of individual interventions that had a psychological focus and succeeded in reducing recidivism. A systematic research review from 2000 – 2019 yielded 206 studies for youth offenders, and of these, 14 met the criteria for inclusion. Sample size varied greatly, from 30 to 3,038. Research design, follow-up period and intervention content also varied greatly. Further, intervention success for recidivism ranged from almost total desistance to changes (increased time to re-offend) affecting only 50% of the intervention group. Psychological changes as a result of intervention included an increased sense of coherence, improved emotion recognition, more positive decision making and reduced defiance. However, none of the studies conducted follow-up psychological assessments post-intervention. Although youth crime is a priority for policy makers, so far research has fallen short of fully examining how the development of psychological resilience via interventions may help reduce persistent offending.

Keywords

  • Resilience, psychological interventions, recidivism, re-offending, juvenile, Youth, delinquency, Systematic review
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages56
JournalAdolescent Research Review
Early online date24 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2020

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