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Measurement, Assessment, and Reduction of Violence in Juvenile Offenders

By: Dr. Michael J. Perrotti, Ph.D.
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To determine if there are any changes in self-concept, locus of control and frequency of aggressive behaviors in juvenile offenders. As a function of receiving Direct Decision Therapy (DDT), a cognitive-based group therapy. Objectives are whether DDT will effect positive change in self-concept, higher interval control and significantly few aggressive behaviors.


Sample was 52 male juvenile offenders who were First commitments at California Youth Authority. Data was extracted from the author's Doctoral dissertation at U.S. International University (1978). Mean age = 18.5 years. Subjects were randomly assigned to two groups, Group A and Group B. Subjects were administered the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS) and the Rotter Internal-External Control Scale (RIECS). Aggression was measured by the Disciplinary Decision Making System (DDMS). The DDMS is categorized infractions of institutional rules. Infractions are categorized for most aggressive behaviors (Level B), Consequences are possible add on time to confinement, to least aggressive (EP) loss of evening program.

All subjects attended (2) one hour group therapy sessions utilizing the treatment modality of DDT, a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

A cross-over design was utilized wherein subjects in Group A were treated with DDT while Group B was placed on a waiting list for four weeks.

To measure aggressive behaviors, baselines of Level A, B and EP behaviors for all subjects were obtained for 50 days prior to treatment for Group A and 75 days prior to treatment for Group B. Subjects were given a pretest questionnaire prior to treatment.

Prior to treatment, subjects in Group A were assigned to 3 groups and subjects in Group B to 3 groups. This was to assure random distribution of subjects from different living units.

Upon termination of treatment, subjects in Group A were administered the TSCS, RIECS and a questionnaire developed by the investigator. (Appendix B).

Subjects in Group B after a waiting period of four weeks attended two one hour group therapy sessions utilizing DDT for four weeks. The TSCS and RIECS were administered again 50 and 100 days post-treatment.

Results and Data Analysis

The data change scores on the TSCS, RIECS and behavioral measures (pretest and post- test) were analyzed via 2 way ANOVA. Discriminant Analysis was conducted with 3 dependent variables, viz, EP behaviors, and total positive score on TSCS and RIECS scores. Subjects mean scores on RIECS and TSCS were compared to norm group mean scores pre- and post-treatment. Pre- and post-test attitudinal measures were analyzed via 2-way ANOVA.

Subjects scores on TSCS were significantly higher from baseline to second follow-up for both groups (z= 2.2, p >.01). For Group A and z = 2.1, p > .05 for Group B. Scores in the behavior subscale of the TSCS were significantly higher from baseline to second follow-up for Group A (z= 1.8, p < .08) and for Group B (z = 8.19, p < .05). There were significant changes in TSCS scores on self- satisfaction, personal - self, total -self and total positive score.

In terms of measurement of aggression, for level A behaviors there was a significant reduction during treatment (p = .04, p < .05) and for baseline and between baseline and first follow-up (p = .02, p < .05) for Group A. For Group B there was a significant drop in Level A behaviors (p = .02, p < .05) during treatment, there was a significant reduction in Level A behaviors from baseline to first follow-up (p = .03, p < .05). For EP behaviors, There was a marked reduction for Group A from baseline to second follow-up which first missed significance (.10 > p > .05). However, for Group B there were significant reductions in EP behaviors during treatment (p = .01, p < .05), between baseline and first follow-up, between baseline and second follow-up (p = .02, p < .05) and between baseline and third follow-up (p = .02, p < .05).

In conclusion, the data supports the experimental hypothesis. There were significantly fewer aggressive behaviors in male juvenile offenders as measured by the DDMS system as a function of treatment with DDT.

Prediction of Success

. . .Continue to read rest of article (PDF).

Dr. Perrotti received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Alliant University in San Diego, CA. He is a licensed psychologist in California and Pennsylvania. Dr. Perrotti is a member of the National Register of Health Service Provider in psychology and the National Academy of Neuropsychology. He was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, USC from 2005-2006. Dr. Perrotti is the author of numerous publications in forensic psychology and assessment, traumatic brain injury in college, professional sports and military populations, and child trauma and complex PTSD.

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