Friday, 14 January 2005 - 2:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention
Gender-Specific Treatment for Substance Abusing, Incarcerated, Adolescent GirlsAmelia C. Roberts, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, School of Social Work and Ray Kirk, Ph.D., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, School of Social Work.
Purpose: The rate at which adolescent girls are entering the juvenile justice system is increasing relative to that for teen boys (OJJDP, 2002). Girls entering this system are identified with different and more complex problems than are boys. Gender-specific treatment programs with a substance abuse focus in the juvenile justice settings are rare and assessment and outcome data on this group are generally unavailable.
Methods: This paper reports findings from a gender specific treatment program for incarcerated adolescent girls in a Youth Development Center (YDC) in North Carolina. Multiple measures of psycho-social functioning, educational status, life skills and substance involvement were obtained on the YDC’s population. A 3-group analysis includes girls who received an intensive, gender-specific, substance abuse intervention (Group1, n= 22), compared to a group of girls who were eligible for the intensive program but did not receive it (Group 2, n=32), and to a group of girls who received traditional treatment delivered in the YDC (Group 3, n=46). The intensive program differed from the other two programs on several programmatic dimensions including the degree of female gender-sensitive programming, treatment intensity, and comprehensiveness. Bi-variate analyses were used to explore differences among the three groups on all measures at treatment entry and at discharge.
Results: Results from the Multidimensional Adolescent Assessment Scale (a self report tool addressing 16 areas of psycho-social functioning) revealed significant differences among the girls in the three programs. All girls at the Youth Development Center presented with elevated scores on the domains of depression, self-esteem, mother-, father-, and friend-problems, personal stress, school problems and aggression. Prior to treatment, the girls in the gender-specific program were significantly higher in the areas of substance abuse and use, confused thinking and disturbing thoughts. At discharge, the girls in the gender-specific program made significant and positive changes on all measures compared to the other 2 groups. Significant differences were found for all relational domains (e.g., father-problems , mother-problems, peer difficulties, aggression, etc.) and in mental health domains (depression, suicidal thought, self-esteem, confused thinking, etc.). Assessments in the areas of daily living and education also demonstrated higher daily living skills and positive outcomes in educational skills (math, reading, language, etc.). Conversely, for both the eligible girls who did not receive the gender-specific treatment and the traditional services group, not only did they not improve, but on several measures they deteriorated.
Implications for practice: Findings indicate that a gender-specific, intensive treatment program based on a holistic model results in amelioration of many of the difficult problems these girls face. Data comparing admission to discharge data also support model efficacy.
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