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Understanding and Helping Antisocial Adolescents

NCJ Number
Education Digest Volume: 54 Issue: 3 Dated: (November 1, 1988) Pages: 48-51
S E Samenow
Date Published
4 pages
Antisocial children and adolescent juvenile delinquents reject the home, the school, their responsible peers, and the world of work before they are rejected by them and need help to develop patterns of responsible thinking.
Antisocial children lack concepts of love, trust, and loyalty. They know right from wrong, but can shut off their consciences long enough to pursue their single-minded objectives of the moment. They learn from experience, but they do not learn what adults want them to learn. They are capable of long-range planning, but do so only in areas that are significant to them. The methods that have been effective in treating children with emotional disturbances do not work with antisocial children because they think so differently. Instead of building self-esteem, we first must help them become fed up with themselves by seeing themselves realistically. Thus, they must understand how they have injured others, including those who care about them and those they care about, and how they have subverted some of their own dreams. Programs exist in both community and institutional settings to help offenders change their thinking, although some individuals will reject whatever is offered to them. Professionals who work with antisocial children and adults must understand who they are, how they think, and how they function so that they can deal withthem effectively.