The title of this post is the headline of an interesting item from Change.org's Criminal Justice Blog, where Matt Kelley points to:
a video of a talk by Theodore Beauchaine, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, who says that brain science can predict criminal activity in some kids and should be a factor in targeting treatment. Treatment for kids with signs of hyperactivity, when it's delivered by age three, can decrease the chance they'll land in the juvenile justice system by 75 percent, he said. And one of the approaches that's working is - you guessed it - puppets.Kelley's piece turned me on to some interesting resources on the topic of juvenile justice, brain science and early childhood development. This afternoon I watched this video titled "Brain Science as a Means of Understanding Delinquency and Substance Abuse in Youth," and here's another hour-long video I want to view soon on the use of puppets as an early childhood intervention technique.
The Incredible Years is a program for young kids that uses the puppets above - and other techniques - to train hyperactive and aggressive kids in social skills. The program was developed by another University of Washington professor, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, and it has been remarkably effective.
Prof. Beauchaine's talk was especially enlightening because he believes criminogenic risk factors can be identified in kids as young as age 3, while most interventions involving delinquent youth don't begin until, at the earliest, the middle school period. By that time, he said, evidence shows the most common interventions actually increase crime. If Beauchaine's diagnostic methods are sound, shifting more resources toward prevention in early childhood could be a promising approach, particularly since it's not nearly as resource intensive as later interventions by the justice system once kids start committing crimes. Interesting stuff.