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Youth Interventions

In Dana M. Rhule's (2005) article "Take Care to Do No Harm: Harmful Interventions for Youth Problem Behavior," she discusses the iatrogenic effects documented because of group interventions for problem youth. She explains that although such interventions are intended to ameliorate problem behaviors such as delinquency, aggression, and alcohol and drug use, it is often the case that they inadvertently increase negative behavior rather than improving it. She cites Lipsey (1992), who concluded that "approximately 29% of controlled interventions focusing on youth problem behavior produced iatrogenic outcomes" (Rhule, 2005, p. 619). Drawing on research and theory, Rhule (2005) identifies the peer group as performing a major function in youth problem behavior in terms of initiating, maintaining, and escalating it (Rhule, 2005, p. 619). She cites Stormshak et al. (1999), who contend that "the presence of many aggressive peers together in a group has been shown to contribute to a shifting of social norms, including a higher level of social acceptability and reinforcement for aggression" (Rhule, 2005, p. 619). Moreover, she points out that despite the lack of evidence suggesting that such interventions are successful, they continue to be used as standard treatment for problem youth (Rhule, 2005, p. 619).

Given the widespread use of group-delivery format interventions for troubled youth, it is disturbing that iatrogenic effects resulting from that format are common. Rhule's findings suggest that this format exacerbates rather than helps the issues of problem youth. Examining the practice simply from a common sense perspective, it seems illogical that highly trained treatment personnel such as psychologists and therapists would devise a group format for treating delinquent youth. Even grade school and Sunday school teachers use the separation of problem children from one another as the first line of defense against incre...

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Youth Interventions. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:59, July 01, 2022, from