Source: (2007) Journal of Law & Family Studies. 10(1): 147-171.

The central theme of this paper is that an interpersonal-developmental model could help provide a core set of unifying principles for addressing several critical issues facing the juvenile justice system, including: (a) the problem of engaging oppositional, resistant youth in treatment; (b) the corollary problem of helping juvenile justice staff engage in productive relationships with difficult youth; (c) the problem of helping youth move through multiple placements without becoming alienated and more resistant; and (d) the problem of successfully reintegrating delinquent youth with their communities and families. ... The rationale for emphasizing interpersonal factors in juvenile justice reform is based on three factors: (1) research indicates that many youth offenders have serious interpersonal deficits; (2) the most effective treatment programs for youth offenders emphasize the development of interpersonal skills and the stability of relationships; and (3) the process of implementing empirically based interventions is itself a fundamentally interpersonaldevelopmental process, requiring cooperation among the many adults involved in the rehabilitation of youth offenders. ... These common program characteristics seem particularly relevant because previous research has indicated that when less serious youth offenders are placed in programs with more serious youth offenders and low youth-to-staff ratios, deviancy training among peers is more likely to occur. ... In some cases, the relationship should be more oriented toward limit setting and structuring, in other cases it should be oriented toward helping a youth develop appropriate, adaptive expressive skills. (4) Youth offenders will benefit from help that targets the development of interpersonal skills needed to navigate their particular social environments. ... Generally, epidemiologists and mental health services researchers agree that across systems of care, the mental health needs of adolescents exceed our capacity for service delivery. (Author's abstract)