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The Power of a Positive, Relationship-Focused, Trauma-Informed, Strength-Based Approach to Guiding At-Risk Children and Youth

By Charlie Appelstein  |  May 14, 2014

Behavior is a message (Appelstein, 1998). When children and youth misbehave, often in very serious ways, such as setting fires, committing violent acts of aggression, or cutting themselves – it’s as if there is a neon light flashing over their heads, announcing: I need help! I need help! Fortunately, adults can respond to these calls for help with an effective, evidence-based strategy. Strength-based practice is a proven approach to guiding off-track lives that positively transforms our most vulnerable children.

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Are You Listening Now?: The Million Dollar Cry for Help

By Karla S. Klas, BSN, RN, CCRP  |  May 14, 2014

What would provoke a teen from a small Midwestern town to purposefully vandalize and set his high school on fire, causing nearly one million dollars in property and collateral damages? Why would a child do such a harmful act? What contributes to this type of destructive behavior? How could he not realize that his poor decision-making would result in incarceration, multiple felony convictions, financial liabilities, and a permanent criminal record that follows him throughout the rest of his life? Perhaps even more importantly, how can communities prevent this type of tragedy from happening in the future?

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Helping Youth Change Course: How Motivational Interviewing Works

By David Prescott, LICSW  |  May 14, 2014

In what would become a highly influential essay back in 1974, criminologist Robert Martinson asked “Does nothing work?” His concern, during a time of political turmoil and change in the U.S., was that rehabilitation efforts in prisons weren’t working resulted in massive de-funding and elimination of services in the criminal justice world. His essay, which became the basis of the “nothing works” philosophy, was premature. Indeed, the following year, Martinson was part of a team whose findings were more optimistic. Martinson would subsequently recant his earlier arguments, but by then the stage was set for decades of belief that people who have broken don’t change and that treatment doesn’t work. Over the next decades, study after study would prove Martinson wrong, and yet many people still believe that ineffective “tough-on-crime” approaches actually work. They don’t; research is unambiguous on this point.

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IAFF Youth Firesetting Data Project

By Ed Comeau  |  May 14, 2014

Youth firesetting is a problem across the nation. Just how big of a problem is not clear because there is insufficient data collection on a national level. There are a number of programs collecting data locally, but developing a big-picture view is far more difficult.

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ACART Firesetter Treatment Program

By Rebekah Doley, BA (Hons), Grad Dip Psy Prac, MSc (Inv Psy), MPsych (Clin), Ph.D. & Therese Ellis-Smith, BBSc, Grad Dip App Soc Psych, MPsych (Forensic)  |  May 14, 2014

The Australian Centre for Arson Research and Treatment (ACART) is based at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. The centre has recently developed an intervention program for firesetters aged 14 years or older. The ACART Firesetter Treatment Program is offered in several locations across Australia and recently 19 specialist clinicians in Boston, Massachusetts were trained to deliver the program, including two clinicians from Brandon Residential Center. The training workshop covered case formulation, the theoretical basis for the program including the M-TTAF, the Multi-Factor Offender Readiness Model (Ward, Day, Howells, & Birgden, 2004), and the Good Lives Model (Ward & Stewart, 2003) and intervention techniques such as motivational interviewing and relapse prevention as applied to fire-specific issues. All clinicians must be fully registered psychologists or social workers. The next training program is scheduled for May 2014 and will take place in Singapore.

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