Researcher Finds More Effective, Lower Cost Solution For Juvenile Justice Treatment

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New research finds that using a method of therapy involving family and community is more effective and costs the juvenile justice system significantly less than traditional methods that focus only on the individual.

Charles Borduin, a University of Missouri professor who pioneered multi-systemic therapy (MST), used a cost-benefit analysis of 176 juvenile offenders to determine that the method is 10 times cheaper than therapy that focused exclusively on the offender, according to ScienceDaily.

“Most current treatments are based on the idea that the problem lies entirely within the child,” Borduin said. “If you look at the scientific literature, it’s not about the individual kid — it’s about family problems, low household warmth, high levels of conflict, abuse, neglect, involvement with the wrong group of kids, school problems, and so on.”

Although MST has high costs upfront, Borduin said that using MST on one juvenile offender resulted in savings of $75,110 to $199,374 over a 14-year period.

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