Evaluation of S.O.F.T.L.Y. (The social options for teenagers like you) program

Criminology Research Council grant ; (10/76)

This peer group activities program for delinquent and pre-delinquent youths aimed to stimulate the acquisition of social skills and culturally acceptable behaviour. The specific aims were to: develop socially relevant skills, develop an awareness of options, teach skills to create further options, teach decision-making, planning and organisational skills, and reduce recidivism. The program was conducted with groups of from five to eight adolescents working with one adult.

The evaluation was conducted by comparing 39 participants who completed the program with a matched group of similar size. Pre and post tests were used to measure personal and social attributes as well as levels of criminal behaviour. The evaluation showed that the program was enjoyable to participants and, while it was operating, led to marginally lower levels of anti-social behaviour. However, it was also shown that higher rates of recidivism followed the completion of the program compared with the rates of those youths to whom the program was not offered. For this reason the program has been discontinued.