The effectiveness of using volunteers with pre-delinquent children in reducing introduction into the juvenile justice system in Tarrant County




Berning, Sheila S.

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Purpose: The major purpose of this study was to compare a population of youths, referred to Youth Service Bureau in Tarrant County as pre-delinquents, serviced by volunteers to those serviced by professionals. The intent of this comparison was to determine the baseline characteristics which differentiate these two youth populations. Secondly, the purpose of this study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of volunteers in working with pre-delinquent youths in reducing introduction into the Juvenile Justice System in Tarrant County as compared to the professional workers’ effectiveness with the same type of youth. Methods: The comparative method was used in this study. The data were collected by administration of a brief schedule to a randomly selected population of forty-three adolescents. In addition, a brie schedule was given to the professional and volunteer workers participating in the study. The statistical test used to compute the results was a standard chi-square and standard percentages. Findings: The research questions which this study investigated were as follows: 1. What were the differences, if any, between the baseline characteristics of the youth population served by the professional and volunteer workers? 2. What, if any, change of behavior occurred while working with the client? 3. Could the volunteer worker at Youth Services Bureau be as effective in keeping the client out of the Juvenile Justice System as the professional worker at the Youth Services Bureau? A basic assumption was made that the records of the youth agency were as accurate as possible because a standardized face sheet for intake had been developed by the agency. The author also assumed that the workers, both professional and volunteer, were knowledgeable about current youth laws pertaining to child and parental rights. Some other assumptions were that an adult assigned to the youth will effect positive change in his or her behavior and that intensive involvement with the child is necessary to effect positive change. The final assumption was that positive change in behavior will result in keeping the child out of the Juvenile Justice System. The review of the literature was intended only to serve as a historical perspective of the use of volunteers and to present a brief review of how the Youth Service Bureau came into existence. Also presented is the rationale behind using volunteers in working with troubled youth. This study concluded that all acknowledged hypotheses were accepted except those in the areas of ethnic origin, frequency of contacts, and types of contact. These hypotheses were found to have significant differences and were rejected. Two of the hypotheses could not be accepted ore rejected because the data gathered were found to be unreliable. Overall, it was concluded that the volunteer was as effective as the professional worker in working and helping deter the older juvenile from entering the Juvenile Justice System. The researcher also found that no conclusions could be obtained about behavioral changed of the individual juvenile with respect to the above.



Volunteer workers in social service--Texas--Tarrant County, Volunteer workers in corrections--Texas--Tarrant County, Social work with youth--Texas--Tarrant County