First, Do No Harm: Cancel Scared Straight

Posted by Patrick Duffy, MST Services

The cable network A&E has been running a popular series for six seasons called “Sacred Straight.” It purports to show a forceful way of handling juvenile offenders by taking them to a correctional facility and having inmates intimidate them with threats of what will happen if the kids end up in prison. And of course, the next episode features a sobbing or sobered delinquent declaring he or she will straighten up.beyond_scared_straight

It’s a feel-good for the audience. Such a simple way to straighten out these young miscreants. Only problem, it’s Hollywood nonsense, as Del Elliott, the director of the program on Problem Behavior and Positive Youth Development and the founding director of The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence in the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado recently pointed out.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families, Blueprints, scared straight

What’s all this brouhaha about evidence-based practice?

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practice, practice-based evidence . . . to the average Joe, these all sound so much the same that most folks just quit listening and do what is easiest. I am referring to how communities decide which services we deliver to children and families and how they determine whether something actually works, or more importantly, does not. If the information was clear and better options available, wouldn’t most people choose what works and stop choosing what does not? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. 

Full disclosure first. I work for one of the top evidence-based practices in the United States (and 14 other countries)—Multisystemic Therapy (MST). Some might ask, doesn’t that skew my perceptions? To which I would answer, maybe, but it also gives me an inside look at the problems and solutions offered by these treatments. I see close up their efficacy. I see them work. And that’s what this article is all about.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families, Blueprints

A Blueprint for Juvenile Justice Reform

Posted by Patrick Duffy, MST Services

In tight economic times, many states and agencies are forced to examine their budgets and prioritize funding in ways that maximize the effect of each dollar. Others seek reform after concluding that years of service and millions of dollars have not achieved the desired outcomes. Regardless of their path to reform, states and counties across the country are beginning to examine services offered through their juvenile justice systems, and those examinations are increasingly leading to the conclusion that incarceration of juveniles is not cost effective – or effective at all.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families

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