Education Report Roundup

‘Get Tough’ Programs Seen as Ineffective

By Sean Cavanagh — October 26, 2004 1 min read

A summary of the study, “Preventing Violence and Related Health-Risking Social Behaviors in Adolescents,” is available online from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. See also the NIH panel’s draft statement. ()

A panel convened by the National Institutes of Health has concluded that boot camps, detention centers, and similar “get tough” programs aimed at scaring youths into behaving better are ineffective, and may actually make the problems of troubled juveniles worse.

That finding, released Oct. 15, emerged from a “state of the science” conference, in which the NIH brought together 13 experts on health, behavior, juvenile justice, and related subjects to discuss existing research and form opinions on youth-violence prevention.

The panel found that get-tough programs too often put youths in close contact with peers who may have more seriously delinquent tendencies, increasing the likelihood that impressionable young people would be led into committing more serious transgressions.

Some of those programs also fail in that they transfer juveniles to adult correctional systems, which leads them toward more violent behavior, the 35-page study found.