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Agents of restoration: An exploration of critical behaviors of careworkers in juvenile detention

Sharon A Kennedy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study sought to determine training needs of juvenile careworkers in Michigan by inquiring about their successful and unsuccessful behaviors, comparing their opinions on important tasks with careworkers in three other states, and asking their opinions on general training needs. Twenty juvenile careworkers and supervisors in five county-operated detention facilities were interviewed. The research tool utilized in Part I of the interview was the Critical Incident Technique (CIT). Subjects were asked to recall both successful and unsuccessful behaviors during critical interactions with resident juveniles. ^ Successful behaviors consisted of communication skills during routine interactions, at time of minor infractions, and at times of major crises. Communications skills included voice, manner of speaking, body language, gestures and certain words. Eight unsuccessful behaviors identified were: escalating an encounter, confronting a resident in an inappropriate location, giving inappropriate information to the resident, breaking promises, being inconsistent and hypocritical, showing favoritism, failing to be observant, and failing to back down from encounters going bad. ^ Part II of the interview asked subjects about agreement with ten task statements previously identified by 374 careworkers in other states as representing important tasks. Sixty percent agreement was found with subjects in this study. ^ Part III of the interview asked subjects for future training topics. Seven that surfaced were: more training in understanding adolescent behavior, dealing with females as a new juvenile population, understanding the medical and mental health needs of juveniles, understanding the increasing social and cultural diversity among juvenile populations, verbal intervention techniques, physical restraint techniques, and stress reduction techniques. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Kennedy, Sharon A, "Agents of restoration: An exploration of critical behaviors of careworkers in juvenile detention" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3059951.