A review of the literature on positive youth development clearly identifies demonstrated empirical relationships between perceived self competence, adolescent resilience, and hope, which are theorized in a strengths-based focus on youth offenders to be predictors of reduced recidivism. This evaluation of outcomes associated with participation in the Wilderness Endeavors (WE) Program of Thistledew seeks to test this theory that individuals who participate in WE will develop enhanced levels of perceived self competence, resiliency, and hope for the future, and therefore, result in a reduction of recidivism.
The specific aims guiding this exploratory study include: 1) to establish a matched-pair control group using youth who were not referred to Thistledew, but which were referred from the same county court system to a Minnesota Department of Correction (MDOC) disposition or other programs, by using as matching variables age, age of first offense, type of committing offense, and risk assessments as determined by the Youth Level of Service Inventory (YSLI) used by the referring Youth Probation Officer (if possible given county court use of the YSLI from which a control group will be drawn); 2) to assess the baseline scores of the youth participant's on the following measures: a) Perceived-Self Competence (Self Efficacy), b) Hope, and c) Adolescent Resiliency; and to assess post-program scores on Perceived-Self Competence, Hope, and Adolescent Resiliency, and 3) to conduct a six-month follow-up assessment that will assess both treatment and control youth re-offense rates, including the nature and degree of the re-offense.
The The paired t tests revealed that self efficacy and hope scores showed significant changes from pretest to posttest, suggesting that the Wilderness Endeavors Program had a significant positive effect on participant's self-efficacy and hope for the future. The non parametric test (McNemar) utilized to investigate the four hypotheses related to Wilderness Endeavors Program participation on the future offending behaviors (recidivism) of participants revealed that there were no significant differences in recidivism rates, or new program placements, between the treatment and control groups. Furthermore, involvement in school and employment were not significantly associated with recidivism rates in both treatment and control groups.
The binary logistic regression showed that higher levels of hope were associated with those Wilderness Endeavors Program participants who did not recidivate, while changes in self-efficacy and resilience scores had no association with recidivism. Finally, the three demographic variables that are supported in the literature as being strong predictors of recidivism for juvenile offenders revealed only YLSI scores were associated with recidivism; those individuals who did not recidivate were more likely to have a lower risk score. Gender and age of first offense had weak or no associations with either group.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2009. Major: Education, Rec/Park/Leisure Studies. Advisor: Keith C. Russell. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 171 pages, appendices A-I.
Walsh, Michael Allen.
Wilderness adventure programming as an intervention for youthful offenders: self-efficacy, resilience, and hope for the future..
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