July 25, 2008


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AKINSO: Parental abuse during childhood increases the risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

COMPTON: This study is a long term follow up of girls who are treated in juvenal justice.

AKINSO: Dr. Wilson Compton is the Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at NIDA.

COMPTON: It’s comparing a therapeutic foster care to the standard group home approach for treating these juvenile delinquent girls.

AKINSO: The study of the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care intervention for delinquent teenage girls with histories of maltreatment, showed that girls enrolled in the foster care were more likely to be engaged with school work, and as a result, less likely to spend time in locked settings such as jail, compared with girls placed in standard group care.  Dr. Compton highlights the findings.

COMPTON: We’ve known for several years that therapeutic foster care can be a very useful treatment approach for juvenile delinquent boys.  And based on the results of this study we can be quite optimistic about its use for juvenile delinquent girls as well.  They previously had reported the one year findings.   But what’s very exciting is that when you follow up these girls, two years after they were initially found in juvenal courts, that their outcomes continue to improve.  So they’re even better at two years.  And the differences between the standard group home treatment and the therapeutic foster care are even greater at two years than they were in one year.

AKINSO: In addition, the biological families of the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care girls participated in family therapy where they received information on parenting skills that they participated during home visits with their daughters.  Dr. Compton says that improving the outcomes for adolescents in this demographic, is a necessary goal.

COMPTON: We’re always looking for ways to improve the outcomes of these very high risk adolescents.  So this is a market improvement in our ability to take care of delinquent girls.  We’ve had a fair amount of success in improving the outcomes of delinquent boys and this adds to the information regarding the other gender.

AKINSO: Dr. Compton says that the only limitation he sees is that the study was relatively small; he would like to have a large replicated study.  This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.