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Conversations with Delinquents: The Mingling of Meager Dialogues: A Pilot Study

NCJ Number
198464
Journal
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 53 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2002 Pages: 127-130
Author(s)
Laura L. Smith Ph.D.; Janice K. Griffin M.A.
Date Published
December 2002
Annotation
The focus of this article is an evaluation of the effects of an intervention program designed to improve the conversational skills of incarcerated juveniles.
Abstract
Focusing on aggressive and learning disabled incarcerated juveniles, this article examines the effects of an intervention program designed to improve the conversational skills of incarcerated juveniles. After discussing the growing importance of studying violent acts committed by young people, the authors describe current research that focuses on the connection between learning disabilities and juvenile delinquency. Arguing that a juvenile’s ability to understand the social cues of others and respond with appropriate language skills represents one way in which to minimize juvenile violence, the authors suggest that improving the art of conversation among juveniles may reduce the incidence of violent and aggressive juvenile acts. Focusing on eight incarcerated residents at the Youth Diagnostics Development Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the authors describe their study of the language skills of learning disabled males, 15- to 18-years-old, who were sentenced to 1 to 2 years of jail time. Assessing these individuals’ conversational skills via a questionnaire, program coordinators met with the participants for six sessions of 45 minutes each during a 3 week period in order to work on developing their conversational skills. At the end of the 3 weeks, researchers found that delinquent boys, diagnosed with oral language learning disabilities, who received direct instruction on how to engage in conversation showed improvement in identified conversational skills. The authors conclude that conversational skills development may help divert juveniles from interpreting some language and communication cues as hostile and may thus prevent aggression and violence among juveniles. Tables, references