1st Edition

Deviant Peer Influences in Programs for Youth
Problems and Solutions

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ISBN 9781593855871
Published July 16, 2007 by Guilford Press
462 Pages

USD $56.00

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Book Description

Most interventions for at-risk youth are group based. Yet, research indicates that young people often learn to become deviant by interacting with deviant peers. In this important volume, leading intervention and prevention experts from psychology, education, criminology, and related fields analyze how, and to what extent, programs that aggregate deviant youth actually promote problem behavior. A wealth of evidence is reviewed on deviant peer influences in such settings as therapy groups, alternative schools, boot camps, group homes, and juvenile justice facilities. Specific suggestions are offered for improving existing services, and promising alternative approaches are explored.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

1. The Problem of Deviant Peer Influences in Intervention Programs, Kenneth A. Dodge, Jennifer E. Lansford, and Thomas J. Dishion

2. Deviant Peer Contagion in Interventions and Programs: An Ecological Framework for Understanding Influence Mechanisms, Thomas J. Dishion and Kenneth A. Dodge

3. Deviant Peer Effects: Perspectives of an Epidemiologist, James C. Anthony

4. Assigning Youths to Minimize Total Harm, Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig

5. Is Deviant Peer Influence a Problem, and What Can Be Done?: Qualitative Perspectives from Four Focus Groups, Jennifer E. Lansford and Joel Rosch

II. Reviews of Peer Effects

6. Deviant Peer Group Effects in Youth Mental Health Interventions, Kenneth A. Dodge and Michelle R. Sherrill

7. Deviant Peer Effects in Education, Wendy M. Reinke and Hill M. Walker

8. Peer Effects in Juvenile Justice, D. Wayne Osgood and Laine O'Neill Briddell

9. The Effects of Community-Based Group Treatment for Delinquency: A Meta-Analytic Search for Cross-Study Generalizations, Mark W. Lipsey

10. Peer Effects in Neighborhoods and Housing, Jacob Vigdor

11. Iatrogenic Outcomes of the Child Welfare System: Vulnerable Adolescents, Peer Influences, and Instability in Foster Care Arrangements, Melvin N. Wilson and LaKeesha N. Woods

12. Peer Effects in Community Programs, Jennifer E. Lansford

13. Peer Effects in Naturally Occurring Groups: The Case of Street Gangs, Malcolm W. Klein

III. Promising Solutions and Recommendations

14. Research-Based Prevention Programs and Practices for Delivery in Schools That Decrease the Risk of Deviant Peer Influence, Rebecca B. Silver and J. Mark Eddy

15. Promising Solutions in Juvenile Justice, Peter Greenwood

16. Prevention Approaches to Improve Child and Adolescent Behavior and Reduce Deviant Peer Influence, Emilie Phillips Smith, Jean Dumas, and Ron Prinz

17. Promising Solutions in Housing and the Community, Jens Ludwig and Greg Duncan

18. Creating a Legal and Organizational Context for Reducing Peer Influence, Joel Rosch and Cindy Lederman

19. A Functional Contextualist Framework for Affecting Peer Influence Practices, Anthony Biglan, Jeffrey Sprague, and Kevin J. Moore

20. Findings and Recommendations: A Blueprint to Minimize Deviant Peer Influence in Youth Interventions and Programs, Thomas J. Dishion, Kenneth A. Dodge, and Jennifer E. Lansford

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Kenneth A. Dodge, PhD, is the Pritzker Professor of Public Policy and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is Founding and Emeritus Director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. A clinical and developmental psychologist, Dr. Dodge studies early childhood development, prevention of violent behavior in the family, and public policy to improve population outcomes for communities. He is the developer of Family Connects, a population approach to improve children’s outcomes in the first year of life. The author of more than 500 highly cited scientific articles, which have been cited more than 100,000 times, Dr. Dodge has been elected into the National Academy of Medicine and is the 2019–2021 President of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Thomas J. Dishion, PhD, until his death in 2018, was Regents Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Senior Scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. Previously, he was Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of Research at the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon. A leader in the field of developmental psychopathology, he developed the Family Check-Up program for at-risk families with young children. Dr. Dishion has received honors including the Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Science and the 2019 Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the Developmental Psychology division of the American Psychological Association.

Jennifer E. Lansford, PhD, is a Research Scientist at the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy. Her research focuses on the development of aggression and other behavior problems in youth, with an emphasis on how family and peer contexts contribute to or protect against these outcomes. She examines how experiences with parents (e.g., physical abuse, divorce) and peers (e.g., rejection, friendships) affect the development of children's behavior problems, how influence operates in adolescent peer groups, and how cultural contexts moderate links between parents' discipline strategies and children's behavior problems.


"This is one of the most important books ever published pertaining to the design and delivery of effective services for troubled youths. This book has extraordinary breadth and relevance. It is highly pertinent to the work of practitioners, researchers, and policymakers alike, across the fields of mental health, education, and juvenile justice. Importantly, the recommendations in this book provide clear clinical and policy guidelines for improving outcomes and increasing the cost benefits of services for the nation’s at-risk youths."--Scott W. Henggeler, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (retired), Medical University of South Carolina

"Every parent knows about bad influences, yet for years our public and private child-serving systems have been oblivious to the possibility that some of our most well-established and richly funded programs and strategies for treating at-risk youth may actually be making their problems worse. This book examines the critically important topic of negative peer influences and how they develop and operate. Importantly, this volume goes beyond merely identifying the problem to grapple with potential solutions that attempt to balance the best interests of all youth. This is an extremely important and timely volume for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and students interested in raising the standards of practice and optimizing outcomes in schools, juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health systems."--Patricia Chamberlain, PhD, Oregon Social Learning Center and Center for Research to Practice, Eugene, Oregon

"Most antisocial behavior involves groups of individuals rather than solitary acts, and humans are social animals who tend to form groups with shared values and activities whenever they come together. This book asks the challenging question of whether, therefore, interventions (whether judicial or therapeutic) that bring deviant young people together may be counterproductive, because all-delinquent groups are likely to foster the very behavior that they aim to eliminate or prevent. The book looks broadly at influences in schools and the community, as well as in treatment or custodial settings. The discussion of these challenging questions is rigorous and based on evidence. It cannot produce a neat, formulaic solution, but it does put forward some practical steps that could make things much better."--Michael Rutter, MD, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, United Kingdom

"This book offers new and innovative insights into the variety of social, behavioral, and academic problems associated with grouping together deviant youth. More importantly, it provides sound recommendations on programs, practices, and policies with proven effectiveness for improving youth outcomes. I recommend this book to educators and others working with at-risk youth."--William Modzeleski, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education
This volume is a quintessential reference on deviant peer influences in programs for youth. It is a necessary read for policymakers, practitioners, and anyone working with youth in group settings....It would make a great addition to graduate-level courses in the social and behavioral sciences.
--Criminal Justice Review, 6/3/2007ƒƒ
This provocative book describes what happens when delinquent or high-risk youth are grouped together for interventions that supposedly are designed to rectify their aberrant behavior....This book should be essential reading for anyone evaluating and/or treating minors, especially child forensic psychiatrists who are often in a position of recommending evidence-based dispositions, interventions, and treatment(s) to the court. It also makes compelling reading for forensic psychiatrists, as it provides insight into how criminal defendants got to their present circumstances. The results of research into current incarceration practices reported in the book raised my concern about the impact of deviant peers on inmates and to what extent it contributes to high recidivism rates. Policy makers and administrators of institutions who care for children should read the book, as policies often lag years behind research data.
--Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 6/3/2007ƒƒ
Whether you work with adolescents individually or in group settings, this book is stimulating and provides important content with clinical, economic, legal, and ethical implications not easily available elsewhere. This is a well-written and comprehensive book that can be an important resource for mental health, juvenile justice, and education professionals as well as policy makers.
--Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 6/3/2007ƒƒ
Provides a wealth of information....There is much of use here for social workers who provide group-based interventions....Represents an important advancement in knowledge, and it includes useful information for improving the effectiveness of social work interventions.
--Social Work With Groups, 6/3/2007ƒƒ
This volume is quite successful in capturing the current status of theory and research on deviant peer influences across a variety of youth-serving settings and in drawing thoughtful recommendations regarding policy and practice, given the fact that many significant gaps remain in our understanding of these phenomena....It represents a major contribution to the research literature on deviant peer influences on programs serving youths. Researchers will find that a useful research agenda is laid out. Practitioners and policymakers will find a great deal of food for thought.
--PsycCRITIQUES, 6/3/2007