A&G (Adolescence & Justice): Centre for the research, prevention and treatment of antisocial behaviours in adolescence

The project is the result of a long standing collaboration between Lombardia Juvenile Justice Centre, the Minotauro Institute, a non profit organization of psychologists and psychotherapists (www.minotauro.it) and Milan Hall, the funder. A centre for the research, prevention and treatment of antisocial behaviour in adolescence was opened in Milan, in 2007. Theoretical background: developmental psychopathology, the concept of criminogenic needs. The team included psychologists and psychotherapists, with the advice of a psychiatrist, a social worker and a lawyer.

 

        ACTIVITIES.

Assessment and clinical work. The main activity of the centre was the assessment, counseling and treatment of antisocial young people or youths with behavioural problems. From 2007 to 2009 120 interventions were carried out. A questionnaire on recidivism risk (Maggiolini, Ciceri, Macchi, Marchesi, Pisa, 2007) and the Youth Self Report (YSR, Achenbach, 2001) were used for the assessment, underlying the prevalence of externalizing problems and a medium-high risk of recidivism. Counseling and psychological support was provided to the young people and their families, in cooperation with social workers and facilitators, in order to provide an integrated intervention on the young person and his or her environment, with the aim of avoiding detention as much as possible. When requested, a report for the Court was provided.

    - Prevention
Seminar to parents, teachers and students on the response to rule breaking and antisocial behaviours. Training courses for teachers: four meetings on the reasons behind rule breaking behaviours during adolescence and how to respond to them effectively. A questionnaire (Teacher Form Report, TFR; Achenbach, 2001) was administered, in order to underline the teachers’ viewpoint of the problems their students have. Secondary prevention, addressed to 20 difficult classes. The counseling supported and help those involved find a new point of view from which the “crisis” could be seen, preliminary to triggering internal resources able to promote a re-organization of their potential.

    - Parents groups
8 participants meeting 6 times fortnightly, at the presence of two facilitators, with the use of the Management Child Behavior Scale (MCBS; Kadzin, Rogers,1985), the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 2001) and the Youth Self Report (YSR; Achenbach, 2001)

    - Documentation and research
The emotional atmosphere in residential care facilities (Lanzi, Chiarelli, Di Lorenzo, Maggiolini, & Pisa, 2008, in press); The relationship between antisocial behaviours and drug abuse in adolescence (in progress).

    - Production of a blog (http://aeg.minotauro.it)

    - Networking
The Juvenile Justice Centre appointed a working group involving representatives of each service (Juvenile Classification Home, Office of Youth Social Service, Juvenile Detention Centre), meeting monthly and coordinated by staff from the technical service, with the consultancy of A&G.

    - International Congress (Milan, February the 13th, 2008): “Which psychotherapy for antisocial adolescents?”

 

        RESULTS.

The Centre has become a reference point for the research, prevention and treatment of antisocial behaviour in adolescence, see the high number of referrals (120 referrals, 60-100 referrals were expected) number of prevention interventions at school (20, while 10 were expected), inclusion of parents groups, high number of participants to the working groups at the Juvenile Justice Centre, high number of participants to (more than 150 people) to the Congress, more than 50 professionals involved.

    - Evidence-based practice
Results: Within the young offenders group (77.5% of those reached by the centre) the number young people charged with a subsequent offence was calculated, following the official records available (46 adolescents). At a 1 year follow up, the recidivism rate was 12.1 A comparable study showed a recidivism rate of 20% at a 1 year follow up (up to 30% at a 2 years follow up). The encouraging results of the project should be confirmed, but they seem to confirm the effectiveness of a combined model of intervention, involving risk assessment, underlying criminogenic needs, individual responsivity to treatment and a psycho-social-pedagogic intervention (Andrews et al., 1990; Dowden, Andrews, 1999).

    - Monitoring
A monitoring sheet filled in by the Juvenile Justice Centre showed that the project was considered overall adequate.

 

The project started in 2007 and is now finished.
Last review: December 2009.