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Family-Oriented Policy and Treatment Program for Female Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Journal of Marriage and the Family Volume: 41 Issue: 3 Dated: (August 1979) Pages: 627-636
J M Druckman
Date Published
10 pages
A policy concerning the family-based nature and treatment of female juvenile status offenders in Hennepin County, Minn., was developed and implemented through a family-oriented treatment program modeled on the 'circumplex model.'
Existing theory and research indicate the importance of the family for juvenile offenders. The 'circumplex model' (Olson, Russell, and Sprenkle, 1979) builds upon this research by identifying two major dimensions of family systems--cohesion and adaptability. In the present study, 29 families of female juvenile status offenders participated in this family-oriented treatment program in which they were given the Moos Family Environment Scale (FES) both before and after treatment. The families could be described by the circumplex model as moderately cohesive and adaptive. To assess whether families improved in their functioning as a result of treatment, 14 families of program completers were compared with 15 families of program dropouts. At intake, the dropout and completer families corresponded on all subscales, except the intellectual-cultural subscale in which completer families had higher scores, which suggests that this difference may have influenced 'receptivity' to treatment. Both program completers and program dropouts significantly improved on most of the FES subscales. In comparing recidivism rates for program completers and program dropouts, it was found that completers actually had a higher level of recidivism than did the dropout families, indicating that the treatment did not curtail recidivism. Finally, recidivists and nonrecidivists were compared on posttest scores related to the cohesion and adaptability dimensions. The recidivists had more extreme cohesion scores than did the nonrecidivists. Moreover, the recidivists' cohesion score fell into the extreme range--a level considered most dysfunctional for families. The results of this study suggest that the dysfunctioning family may not be the primary cause of status offenses and that family-oriented treatment is possibly not the choice treatment for status offenders. A more behavior-oriented family therapy approach is suggested. Tables are included. Thirty-four references are appended. Author abstract modified.