What works to reduce the likelihood of juvenile crime?

There is a significant body of research that has identified what works to reduce juvenile offending. For an intervention to be deemed successful it must have been independently evaluated across a number of jurisdictions.   

Central to this body of work is that for any intervention plan to be successful it must be tailored to suit the juvenile's risks, needs and responsivity factors. That is, a one-size-fits-all approach to intervention will not be effective. Another important factor is that the most successful intervention programs target both individual and family risk factors.

There are a number of things that have been found to be successful in reducing the offending behaviour in juveniles. 

  • Rehabilitation programs that targeted known criminogenic risk factors
  • Skills training (social skills, lateral thinking, problem solving, negotiation, assertiveness, critical thinking)
  • Re-engagement with education (alternative schools; mentoring; behavioural programs)
  • Aggression Replacement Training
  • Functional family therapies
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Community employment
  • Drug treatment
  • Early intervention programs targeted at preschool and primary school children
  • Multi-systemic Therapy 

There are also interventions that have been found not to be successful:  

  • Specific deterrence interventions, such as shock probation and 'scared straight'
  • Rehabilitation programs that use vague, nondirective, unstructured counselling
  • Compliance only supervised probation or parole
  • Home confinement
  • Community residential programs
  • Urine testing
  • Correctional boot camps using a military model
  • Juvenile wilderness programs