NEARI Press and Training Center Newsletter - Volume 12, Issue 1: January 2019
Helplessness and Hopelessness in Adolescents Who Commit Sexual and Nonsexual Crimes
Happy New Year to you! Were you able to take advantage of our recent 25% off sale on all of the books NEARI has published over the years? If not, look out for email blasts from us in the coming months about future sales. Beginning next month, you’ll be able to find sales between 30% and 50% off on a diversity of titles that we have in stock. 

We hope you were able to participate in our January 15 webinar,  "Navigating Rapport Building and the Therapeutic Relationship with Culturally Diverse Clients and Their Families " conducted by the always-brilliant Dr. Alejandro Leguizamo. If not, you can view the webinar on  NEARI Press & Training Center's YouTube channel

NEARI Press & Training Center has just release four new titles! Check them out on our online bookstore . This month, because of our upcoming webinar with the authors, we’d especially like to note the two new volumes called LATTICES™: An Integrated Treatment Approach for High-Risk Forensic Clients --  a Clinicians' Guide and a Client Workbook. LATTICES™is a step-by-step, research-based, 37-module curriculum for treating high-risk clients that incorporates Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) principles into all aspects of its approach. Jan Looman, Ph.D., C. Psych. of Forensic Behaviour Services in Ontario, Canada says of LATTICES™ that it “offers excellent insight and advice” for working with high-risk offenders, and Sandy Jung, Ph.D., R.Psych., an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at MacEwan University, says that LATTICES™ is “a welcome and long-overdue resource…[that] provides a consistent and structured approach to working with challenging clients.” On February 12, the authors, Jane Ward, Ph.D., and Diana Groener, MA, will conduct a webinar called“LATTICES™: An Integrated Treatment Approach for Working With High-Risk Forensic Clients” to introduce this wonderful addition to the NEARI Press catalog and orient providers towards how best to use the curriculum. If you work with challenging, high-risk, or other clients who you think might benefit from the approach developed by Ward and Groener, please join us. Sign up here

This month in the NEARI e-Newsletter, we take a look at the article  “Helplessness and Hopelessness in Adolescents Who Commit Sexual and Nonsexual Crimes”   by Adam Brown and Melissa D. Grady, in which the authors examine the relationship between helplessness and hopefulness as they relate to experienced trauma, as well as the role that these emotions play in the commission of sexual and nonsexual criminal behaviors among adolescents adjudicated for sexual crimes.
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And last, but far from least, please don’t hesitate to contact us about the articles, authors, and topics you’d like us to cover in the NEARI e-Newsletter, our webinars, and our in-person trainings. Please contact Alisa if you have ideas and thoughts about the particular kinds of training you’d like to see NEARI Press and Training Center offer in the coming year. Thank you for your interest in NEARI, and for the vital work that you do to keep children and adults safe from sexual harm,

Craig Latham, Executive Director, NEARI 
Alisa Klein, Director, NEARI Press and Training Center, 
This month, David S. Prescott and
Alisa Klein examine the article:

Adam Brown & Melissa D. Grady  (Please see below for full citation and abstract.)

What is the relationship between having been a victim of child maltreatment and the experience of helplessness and hopelessness in adolescence? What is the relationship between feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and the commission of sexual and nonsexual crimes by adolescents?  

The authors note that, broadly, research has found that childhood maltreatment experiences are associated with higher levels of aggressive behavior, sexual offending, and other antisocial behaviors, as well as other “negative emotional states,” such as anger, betrayal, fear, helplessness, hopelessness, blame, guilt, shame, humiliation, and others. The authors cite research by McCoy and Fremouw from 2010 that was unable, due to methodological limitations, to determine a causal relationship between negative emotional states and sexual offending behaviors. This prompted the current authors to examine the role of helplessness and hopeless, two negative emotional states associated with trauma, and their relationship to subsequent criminal behaviors by adolescents. 

In this study, Brown and Grady hypothesize that there will be a significant relationship between childhood maltreatment and higher rates of both helplessness and hopelessness, and that there will be a positive relationship between levels of helplessness and hopelessness in both sexual and nonsexual crimes. The authors collected data from 332 male youths between the ages of 12 and 20 who were living in secured juvenile detention centers and had been adjudicated for sexual offenses. They used the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI) and the Hopelessness Scale for Children to measure levels of helplessness and hopelessness; the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire to screen for traumatic experiences in childhood; the Self-Report Sexual Aggression Scale (SERSAS) to measure sexually aggressive behaviors; and the Self-Reported Delinquency (SRD) to assess nonsexual delinquency.  

The researchers found that higher levels of child maltreatment were indeed related to higher feelings of helplessness and hopelessness in their sample.  While the feeling of hopelessness was strongly correlated with past emotional neglect, the feelings of both helplessness and hopelessness were strongly related to physical neglect. However, these feelings did not follow the same pattern with regard to criminal behavior. Specifically, higher levels of helplessness were associated with “more aggressive and forceful modes of sexual assault,” while feelings of hopelessness were not associated with any sexual crime characteristics. Yet, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness were both associated with general delinquency. Interestingly, helplessness was associated with more subtypes of criminal behavior than hopelessness, including sexual crimes. The authors posit that feelings of helplessness may contribute to criminal behavior particularly when the youths experienced situations that reminded them of their own abuse and neglect that is associated with feeling helpless. 

Perhaps the clearest implication of this study is that professionals involved in assessing and treating youth who abuse will be most effective when they work with a deep understanding of each client’s experience. While specialized treatment programs of the past focused on accountability and safety planning, little has been published on trauma sequelae such as hopelessness and helplessness. Although our field has a growing sensitivity to the adversity that our young clients have experienced, all too often it seems that sorting through the components of their response to these experiences remains a challenge. These findings help to pave the way. Simply attending to client experience of helplessness can be an excellent first step, remedied through various means, such as family involvement in treatment and support and mentorship within the community.
Much has been written about the components of effective rehabilitation in programs in and around the criminal justice system. These are the principles of risk, need, and responsivity. Brown and Grady remind us that there is more to designing treatment programs than simply addressing risk factors. Indeed, these findings highlight the importance of exploring what responsivity actually means with youth in treatment. How can we expect youth to respond to interventions if they can’t first address the hopelessness and helplessness that serve as two of many possible barriers to meaningful change?

Finally, these findings add to the support for treatment programs for young people who have abused. Given that increased helplessness is correlated with increased aggression and severity of offending, it seems silly to believe that we can simply punish young people into compliance with the law.

The authors’ purpose was to test the relationship of helplessness and hopefulness to experienced trauma, as well to explore the role of these emotions to sexual and nonsexual criminal behaviors among 332 residential youths adjudicated for sexual crimes. All subtypes of trauma measured were positively correlated with helplessness, whereas hopelessness was not associated with sexual or physical abuse. Helplessness was associated with the severity of sexual crimes, as well as the commission of multiple nonsexual crimes. Hopelessness was not associated to any sexual crime characteristics and only associated with general delinquency and property damage. In the regression models, controlling for trauma, helplessness predicted sexual and nonsexual criminality, and hopelessness predicted nonsexual criminality. Implications for practice, policy, and research are discussed.  

Brown, A. & Grady, M.D. (2018): Helplessness and Hopelessness in Adolescents who Commit Sexual and Nonsexual Crimes,  Victims & Offenders , DOI: 10.1080/15564886.2018.1539687. Published online: 08 Nov 2018.   
NEARI Press & Training Center is pleased to offer you these opportunities to enrich your knowledge base and practice. All of our webinars are FREE and Continuing Education credits (CEs) are always available.

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  • An Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sexual Behaviors, and Therapeutic Intervention by Gerry D. Blasingame
  • Assessing Youth Who Have Sexually Abused: A Primer by David S. Prescott
  • Awakening Motivation for Difficult Changes by David S. Prescott and Robin Wilson
  • Beyond Manuals and Workbooks: Improving Clinical Outcomes With Adolescents Who Have Sexually Abused by David S. Prescott
  • The Brain Detective: A Practical Tool For Helping Misunderstood Children and Teens by Penny Cuninggim and Shannon Chabot
  • Growing Beyond: A Guide For Professionals Working With Teenage Girls With Sexually Abusive Behavior by Susan L. Robinson
  • Growing Beyond: A Workbook For Teenage Girls by Susan L. Robinson
  • The Impact of Pornography on Children, Youth, and Culture by Cordelia Anderson
  • Intellectual Disability and Problems in Sexual Behavior: Assessment, Treatment, and Promotion of Healthy Sexuality by Robin Wilson and Michele Burns
  • Promoting Healthy Childhood Development Today: A Guide For Parents and Caregivers by James R. Harris, Jr.
  • RESPECT: Professional Manual and Student Workbook by Tom Keating
  • The SAFE Workbook For Youth: New Choices For a Healthy Lifestyle by John McCarthy and Kathy MacDonald
  • Using Conscience As a Guide: Enhancing Sex Offender Treatment In The Moral Domain by Niki Delson
  • Using Conscience As a Guide: Student Manual by Niki Delson
  • Who Am I And Why Am I In Treatment by Longo, Bays, and Sawyer
  • Why Did I Do It Again And How Can I Stop by Longo, Bays, and Sawyer

Sale begins February 1!

Congress Passes Bipartisan Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

On December 13, 2018, Congress passed  H.R. 6964 , a bill to reauthorize and strengthen  the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) which is designed to promote fairness, ensure state compliance with safe treatment standards, and strengthen delinquency prevention measures. 
The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was last authorized in 2002. It establishes federal guidance on the safe treatment of youth involved in the justice system including, among other provisions, that states must:

  • Collect data and design plans to address racial and ethnic disparities;
  • Submit plans that:
  • take into account scientific knowledge on adolescent brain development and behavior;
  • to provide alternatives to detention;
  • to engage families in service delivery;
  • to use community-based services to serve at-risk or system-involved youth;
  • to promote evidence-based and trauma-informed programs and practices; and
  • Implement plans, within two years of the law’s enactment, to eliminate the use of restraints on pregnant girls housed in secure detention and correctional facilities.
NEARI Press & Training Center provides resources and training for the prevention of sexual abuse. We are a source of practical, cutting-edge information about promising and best-practice interventions for individuals with sexual behavior problems. We believe that by addressing healthy sexual development in children and adolescents, and responding to sexual behavior problems in children, adolescents, and adults, we can prevent sexual abuse before it is perpetrated.
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