An evaluation of Project Peer: A juvenile delinquency treatment program

Tonya Lynn Latzman, Pace University


Juvenile delinquency is a serious problem across the United States and a topic of controversy covered extensively in the psychological, sociological, and forensic literature. There have been numerous treatment approaches to delinquency and a widespread notion that most are unsuccessful. The author examined two groups of incarcerated male adolescents in a longitudinal study to investigate the effectiveness of Project Peer, a juvenile delinquency treatment program that aims to return participants to the community as law abiding citizens. Treatment modality included informal social skills training focusing on public presentations of delinquents' life stories to peers. Effectiveness was evaluated based on pre- to post-test changes on self-reported ratings of behavioral characteristics involving social skills, insight, responsibility and rapport. The relationship between post-test social skills and post-test insight, responsibility and rapport, as distinct characteristics, was explored as well. The sample consisted of 29 males between the ages of 14-18. Participants completed the Social Skills Rating System, Student Form, Secondary and the Jesness Behavior Checklist, Self-Appraisal Version before and after treatment. Data analysis revealed non-significant findings when comparing pre-test to post-test ratings on study measures between the Project Peer Group (n=14) and the Non-Project Peer Group (n=15). There are significant mean differences between groups on demographic variables including length of incarceration in weeks and severity of crime. Additionally, social skills related significantly (and positively) to the youth's measured degrees of insight, responsibility and rapport. The current study is part of a body of literature that has been generally inconclusive and inconsistent regarding the effectiveness of social skills intervention with juvenile delinquents. While results of the current study were non-significant, the study develops with many limitations that may enhance future research. Further investigation in this area is necessary before conclusions may be drawn about the effectiveness of social skills training on delinquency.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Latzman, Tonya Lynn, "An evaluation of Project Peer: A juvenile delinquency treatment program" (2008). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3322473.



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