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Faith-Based Approaches for Controlling the Delinquency of Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Federal Probation: A Journal of Correctional Philosophy and Practice Volume: 71 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 31-37
Morgan Cox B.S.; Betsy Matthews Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2007
7 pages
This paper examines the theoretical and empirical relevance of faith-based approaches for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency, as well as juvenile justice personnel’s perceptions of using faith-based programming, the value of faith based interventions, and barriers to faith-based approaches.
The majority of the juvenile justice respondents surveyed were White, from small towns and/or rural areas, identified themselves as Christian, Protestant, and indicated that religious faith was a salient factor in their lives. Most respondents had worked in juvenile justice or some type of social service for at least 5 years. Few had received any training on faith-based approaches for preventing delinquency. Although the majority of respondents believed that faith-based programming could benefit the youth they served, few indicated that they would increase their use of faith-based programming even if perceived barriers were addressed. The results suggest that despite the emphasis on faith-based programming at the Federal level, its appeal had not permeated into juvenile justice practice within the southern State involved in this study. Given the push for evidence-based practice in juvenile justice, the effectiveness of faith-based programming in reducing delinquency must be documented through methodologically sound outcome evaluations. In addition, juvenile justice personnel must receive training on their value and legalities. Only then will faith-based programs become viable supplements or alternatives to secular programming for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. Despite the theoretical and empirical support that exists for faith-based programming, little is known about the extent to which faith-based approaches are being used by juvenile justice agencies or about their attitudes regarding such approaches. This paper reports on a survey of juvenile justice personnel (203 community service workers) in a southern State regarding their perceptions of using faith-based approaches with juvenile offenders. Tables, references