We Make House Calls: A Fresh Approach to Treating Juvenile Offenders

By Schossler, William; Powers, Mike | Corrections Today, April 1999 | Go to article overview

We Make House Calls: A Fresh Approach to Treating Juvenile Offenders


Schossler, William, Powers, Mike, Corrections Today


A Fresh Approach to Treating Juvenile Offenders

Authors' Note: The names of juveniles and family members were changed in this article to protect their privacy. Professional models were used in the accompanying photography out of privacy concerns.

It was late at night when Mia Sell's beeper went off. She quickly returned the call and found that Bill had broken curfew again and Jean, his mother, was furious and didn't know what to do. Sell got both mother and son on the phone and calmed things down for the night. By the next day, after Sell visited the home, Bill was ready to apologize to his mother and accept his punishment.

"He got back on track right away," says Sell, a therapist with the Faith in Families program in Jacksonville, Fla. Sell and her fellow therapists in the program are on call 24 hours a day, and nighttime and weekend calls are the rule rather than the exception.

The MST Program

Faith in Families is one of two juvenile offender programs in Florida that employ the Multi-Systemic Therapy Program (MST). Both are run by the Henry and Rilla White Foundation inc. of Bronson, Fla., which operates several programs for youths and families throughout the state.

MST is a relatively new method of dealing with young offenders. It was developed at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1995 and is based on the theory that, in order to turn youthful offenders around, you have to make fundamental changes in their environment - not necessarily their physical environment, but the relationships that make up the environment, such as family, school and peer groups.

MST advocates believe that taking a youth away from home and placing him or her in a residential facility for six months or a year does little to solve the underlying problems that got them in trouble in the first place. And when you send them right back to the same environment in which they got in trouble, they are very likely to offend again.

The foundation was looking for a fresh approach to treating juvenile delinquency and MST appeared to offer the best opportunity to make a fundamental change in how government deals with children in trouble with the law. Foundations have the flexibility and freedom to experiment with new and innovative solutions to old and seemingly intractable problems, and often that experimentation becomes the model for the future.

"Typically, juvenile offender programs only deal with the kids," says Dick Grimm, a foundation consultant based in Pensacola, Fla., where the foundation's second MST program is entering its second year. "MST works in the youth's natural environment and empowers families to change for the better. We don't work in offices. We work around the kitchen table, in the home, in the school, in the neighborhood, in the church, with peer groups. There are many targets for intervention that correlate to the youth's delinquency."

He adds, "Rather than saying a kid failed, [our therapists] come up with a new way to deal with the kid. We look for the strengths in the family. The kid is going to have to return there someday anyway, so we help the parents learn to develop rules of behavior and deal with the problems that will arise."

Real Life Implications

Bill had spent 18 months in two residential programs after being convicted of two burglaries. When he was returning home, it was too late in the year to rejoin his normal school and his mother and sister were upset that their peaceful lives were going to be turned upside down again by Bill's behavior.

"He was an 'in-your-face' kind of kid," Sell says. "Bill's readjustment was a big issue. His morn and sister had worked out their own routines. They resented their peaceful house being disturbed again and his morn didn't understand how to handle conflict."

So, Sell visited Bill's friends and teachers and became a regular fixture in the home, helping to make real changes in the way the family members related to one another. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

We Make House Calls: A Fresh Approach to Treating Juvenile Offenders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.