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Reducing Juvenile Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis of Treatment Outcomes

11 December 2009


Juvenile criminal activity continues to be a problem in the United States both in terms of its financial burden to society and its impact on quality of life. One adolescent repeat offender may cost tax payers an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 million dollars (Cohen, 1998). Thus, there is an imperative to identify treatments that decrease youthful re-offending. The present meta-analysis analyzed which interventions had the largest effects on decreasing recidivism, and explored in a unique way whether quality of treatment implementation increased treatment efficacy in real-world settings. All programs analyzed were effective in reducing juvenile recidivism except those focused on discipline (i.e., boot camps). Programs offering multiple services were the most effective. In addition, interventions with the highest level of treatment integrity had the strongest outcomes. Finally, researcher-driven studies had larger effects than community-based programs indicating a continued gap between research and practice. The importance of integrity in real-world settings is highlighted in the discussion.


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