Title

Using technology with justice involved youth to learn emotion regulation, self-control and problem solving skills

Location

Ballroom D

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Safety & Violence Prevention

Relevance

This proposal looks at a prevention and intervention treatment approach designed to reduce conduct and oppositional behavioural problems and contact with the youth criminal justice system. Child Development Institute (CDI) in partnership with the provincial and federal stakeholders ( Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS), Ontario – Youth Justice Services Division (YJSD) with support from Justice Canada’s Guns and Gangs Initiative) launched the SNAP® Youth Justice (SNAP® YJ) project based on a comprehensive implementation framework designed to develop, train, and support sustainable replication and evaluation of an intervention approach for youth. The key strategy of this project is SNAP®, an award winning, evidence based, cognitive-behavioural therapeutic strategy, designed to improve emotion regulation, self-control, and problem-solving skills. This newest model in the SNAP® family was adapted for justice involved youth using key findings from evidence based research to develop an engaging targeted program to reduce the risk of further contact with the law and/or gang membership, while maintaining the core components of the SNAP® strategy.

Brief Program Description

Justice and mental health professionals will learn about a newly adapted SNAP® Youth Justice intervention implemented within a custody/probation/community collaboration framework to ensure continuity of services. Using interactive digital technology the program enhances emotional regulation/ self-control/problem solving to reduce further contact with the law. Objectives include: overview of an adapted evidence-based intervention, demonstration of digital modules and presentation preliminary outcomes.

Summary

This presentation will outline how the SNAP® (Stop Now and Plan) strategy was incorporated in the adaptation and development of the SNAP® Youth Justice (SNAP® YJ) model. SNAP® is an evidence-based, cognitive-behavioural, therapeutic strategy, designed to improve emotion regulation, self-control, and problem-solving skills. This evidence-based approach teaches children and youth with disruptive behaviour problems, and their families, how to make better choices ‘in the moment’.

Stakeholders from youth justice settings funded the SNAP YJ pilot project designed for male youth (aged 12+) in custody, probation and community justice settings. A comprehensive implementation collaborative framework was designed to develop, train, and support sustainable replication and evaluation of the SNAP YJ across justice and mental health sectors.

Program sessions include discussions, modelling, behavioural rehearsal/ role playing , practice exercises, in vivo learning opportunities, and relaxation training. Sessions focus on engaging youth in interesting and creative interactive digital modules using i-pads/i-pod response systems. The SNAP® YJ model creates a seamless system of service delivery for ongoing support across all youth justice sectors. A review of the evaluation results will be presented to assess for effectiveness across development, implementation and programming phases. During the development process youth and staff feedback on the design and content of the modules, SNAP® app, and graphic novels was incorporated. Implementation model includes training Youth Justice System professionals, front line workers, and community partners and identifies key components of the training, consultation and programming elements considered essential for successful replication of the SNAP® YJ model. Youth, professionals, and front line workers involved in the pilot implementation and evaluation phase of the project provided feedback on training and services, as well as completing evaluation measures, post training and program feedback surveys.

Presentation Objectives:

  1. Enhance participants understanding of the SNAP® strategy and its use as an evidence-based intervention designed for high risk children and youth;

  2. Expand participant’s knowledge and understanding in how technology can be used to improve service delivery and evaluation -- actively engage participants in a learning process through a demonstrate of the digital modules;

  3. Understand the process for measuring implementation effectiveness and program services.

Evidence

The SNAP® strategy was developed in the late 1970’s for use in a day treatment classroom by Child Development Institute (CDI) for behaviourally troubled children. The strategy was then further enhanced and developed into a manualized and multifaceted model (SNAP® Under 12 Outreach Project) in 1985 for young children in conflict with the law (this was spurred on with the 1984 de-criminalization of children under the age of 12 in Canada). The SNAP® model became gender-sensitive in 1996 with the launch of the SNAP® Girls Connection. Our experience in disseminating SNAP® is that, with adequate training and support, this program can be successfully replicated and implemented with fidelity in a variety of settings. SNAP® fits in the classroom, in a clinician’s office, in community based agencies, and at home. The program can be situated in a variety of diverse community settings and real life community conditions. This has led to the use of SNAP® in schools, daycares, priority neighbourhoods, and Aboriginal communities with translations into 7 different languages.

Independent external research has verified our own research that SNAP® works. The SNAP® model has achieved the highest levels of recognition from independent reviewers who rate evidence-based programs. SNAP® is synonymous with effective crime prevention:

  • In 2006 SNAP® was given the highest effectiveness designation, Level 1 by the U.S. White House program Helping America’s Youth (now called FindYouthInfo)

  • In 2007 SNAP® was designated as an Exemplary program by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) because of its robust treatment outcomes

  • In 2008 the National Crime Prevention Centre (division of Public Safety Canada) designated SNAP® as a Model program

  • In 2011 SNAP® was included in the Canadian Best Practice Portal hosted by Public Health Agency of Canada's Preventing Violence Stream

Random Control Trials (RCTs) revealed that SNAP® treated children improve significantly more than children receiving an attention only group and/or treatment as usual with treatment gains maintained at 6, 12 and 18 months. Results show that boys and girls who learn SNAP® become:

  • Less aggressive & delinquent – less fighting, attacking, stealing, lying, disobedience, and vandalism; making and keeping pro-social friends

  • Better at controlling their anger – less yelling, screaming, and threatening with siblings or other children and adults

  • Better students – by making choices that keep them out of trouble in the classroom and playground; associating with more positive peers

Lower criminal outcome - 92% of the at-risk boys and 97% of the at-risk girls who completed SNAP had no history of criminal offences by age 15 with approximately 68% of the children projected to not have a criminal record by 19.

Researchers have shown that the more risk factors present in a child’s life, the greater likelihood that he or she will join a gang (Hill at el., 2001). Universally supported, street gang membership facilitates violent behaviour (Wood & Alleyne, 2010; Bouchard & Spindler, 2010). Self-reported gang members report a greater degree of delinquency and antisocial behaviour and attitudes. Gang members are 20 times more likely to be involved in drive-by shootings, ten times more likely to commit a homicide, eight times more likely to commit a robbery and three times more likely to commit an assault in public (Wood & Alleyne, 2010). In general, at-risk youth who join gangs are at greater risk of delinquency than those who do not (Bouchard & Spindler, 2010). Targeting at-risk youth from a young age is imperative at reducing the risk for long-term offending. There is overwhelming evidence that chronic antisocial behaviour following preadolescence is an extension of problems with delinquency starting from childhood (Loeber, 1990; Lacourse, Cote, Nagin, Vitaro, Brendgen & Tremblay, 2002). This is further apparent in the disproportionately greater number of criminal incidents in communities committed by chronic offenders (Loeber & Farrington, 2000). A number of empirical studies have pointed out that approximately 6% of early male delinquents develop into persistent antisocial individuals, which in turn account for more than 50% of all crimes (Vincent, 2006). Adults with recidivistic criminal behavior tend to have a history of antisocial behavior during childhood and adolescence (Loeber & Farrington, 2000). Over the past decade, research is finding that gang members, following release from prison, have a higher probability of being more quickly rearrested for violent and drug offenses than non-gang members (Howell, 2012).

Historically, treatment interventions have centered on anti-criminal behavior and aggression. However, more recently self-control and impulsivity have become a greater focus with research suggesting that low impulse control plays an integral role in the development of law-breaking behaviors (Caspi et al., 1994). Research on gang prevention/intervention programs are showing that some of the most effective programs are focused on social competency (e.g., developing self-control) or interpersonal skill development (Howell, 2012).Self-control in children has been directly linked to predicting physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending. This said, policy-makers are now taking an active role in early childhood education programs geared towards enhancing self-control with the objective of reducing crime and improving the health and well fare of children/youth for years to come (Moffitt, 2011). In essence, children/youth who fail to learn how to control their behavior are more likely to have serious problems including substance abuse, mental illness and criminal activity later in life (Tremblay Grevais, & Petitclerc, 2008).

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Leena K. Augimeri, Ph.D., is the Director, Scientific and Program Development & Centre for Children Committing Offences at Child Development Institute (CDI) in Toronto. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. For the past 29 years, this scientist practitioner has developed a comprehensive mental health crime prevention model for young children engaged in antisocial behaviour which is being adopted around the world. She is the co-founder/developer of the longest and most fully developed evidence-based intervention for children under 12 years of age in conflict with the law – the SNAP® (Stop Now And Plan) Model and principal developer for the newest SNAP Youth Justice Model for gang affiliated and/or at risk youth. She is a noted author on issues related to young children in conflict with the law, researcher/evaluator, program developer, consultant and skilled group leader who also co-authored the Early Assessment Risk List for Boys (EARL-20B) and Girls (EARL-21G) which have been translated in various languages to assess risk for future antisocial behaviour in young children. In addition, she is also known for chairing a task force, which led to the development of Canada’s first police-community referral protocol for children under 12 years of age in conflict with the law which has subsequently been adopted by other communities. She consult on numerous national and international projects as a subject matter expert pertaining to young children at risk for future antisocial behaviour including many national demonstration projects. Currently, Dr. Augimeri is on the Minister of Education’s Accepting Schools Expert Panel and the Premier’s Award Panel for Accepting Schools and a Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology. She is also the recipient of numerous awards such as the Child Welfare League of Canada’s inaugural Outstanding Achievement Research and Evaluation Award, the Elizabeth Manson Award for Community Service in Children’s Mental Health in recognition of exemplary contributions to the promotion of children’s mental health by the Hospital for Sick Children, and accepted (Dec. 2012) on behalf of CDI, the Prime Minister’s Award – Regional Social Innovation Award for SNAP®. In addition, SNAP® was selected by the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact as their inaugural social innovation to scale up across Canada -- Dr. Augimeri is leading this 5 – year venture philanthropy initiative (2013 – 2019).

Margaret Walsh is Manager of Research and Evaluation for the Child Development Institute. She is a the lead SNAP® researcher, consultant to CDI clinical managers, international SNAP® affiliate sites, and government ministry on evaluation frameworks, research and program development, implementation and fidelity protocols. Margaret is co-author of the EARL-21G, a gender-specific risk assessment tool for girls, under the age of 12, at risk for future delinquency. She co-led and authored with Dr. Debra Pepler, of York University, the SNAP® Girls Connection Random Control evaluation study (published in Prevention Science Journal) and many other related SNAP publications. She is a lead member of the SNAP® Development Team and heads the development of the Fidelity Framework for the SNAP® implementations. Margaret works closely with her colleague, Dr. Leena Augimeri on program development and research under the SNAP® model and was principal contributor on a new SNAP® initiative, SNAP® For Youth in Custody. Margaret advocates for the incorporation of research into clinical practice – the Scientist - Practitioner Model. Her research has focused on gender, treatment responsiveness, risk, and developmental issues. Margaret has published extensively on gender effects and program evaluation, gender-sensitive risk identification and management assessment tools (EARL-20B and EARL-21G), the SNAP® model, fidelity, and implementation. Margaret’s academic background in psychology, sociology and gender equity at the University of Toronto, compiled with her extensive SNAP research, experience makes her a sought out presenter. She conducts numerous presentations at academic conferences and university seminars.

Sarah Woods, Coordinator SNAP® Youth Justice & Research. She is a lead researcher and Project Coordinator of the SNAP Youth Justice project at Child Development Institute (CDI­). CDI is a children's mental health agency dedicated to promoting and supporting the healthy development of children and to strengthen families in the Toronto area. At CDI, Sarah’s work focuses on the ongoing evaluation and research for the evidence-based Stop Now and Plan (SNAP®) model programs. SNAP® is a framework for effectively teaching children (and their families) with serious behaviour problems (e.g., conduct, bullying, violence) -- emotional regulation, self-control, and problem-solving skills. The SNAP® programs work with children and youth in the school, community and home environments. In addition to her research at CDI, Sarah has worked with youth aged 12-29 in front-line, management, and program development positions in the areas of education, employment, criminal justice and newcomer services. Sarah is the current President of the Board of Directors at Times Change Women’s Employment Service. She has contributed to publications and policy on evidence-based programming for children under 12 and reports on alternative education for incarcerated youth. Sarah received her M.A. Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy from the University of Guelph.

Keyword Descriptors

intervention treatment approach, cognitive behavior theory, self-control, emotion regulation, at risk children and youth

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-9-2016 11:15 AM

End Date

3-9-2016 12:30 PM

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Mar 9th, 11:15 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

Using technology with justice involved youth to learn emotion regulation, self-control and problem solving skills

Ballroom D

Justice and mental health professionals will learn about a newly adapted SNAP® Youth Justice intervention implemented within a custody/probation/community collaboration framework to ensure continuity of services. Using interactive digital technology the program enhances emotional regulation/ self-control/problem solving to reduce further contact with the law. Objectives include: overview of an adapted evidence-based intervention, demonstration of digital modules and presentation preliminary outcomes.