Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Lisa L. Harlow


Today adolescent violent crime and juvenile delinquency is an increasing problem in our society. Along with the high number of minority offenders, there is also evidence from state and local agencies that the number of female offenders is also increasing. Once youth enter the family court system, they are often adjudicated for treatment into a residential facility. There is little information available regarding the efficacy of these types of placement especially for female and minority problem youths. Phase I of this project involved the examination of such a facility utilizing a longitudinal study spanning four years of data collection. Year four included data on 21 (66%) of the original 32 youths. Forty-four percent (14) of participants were female (nine Caucasians and five Alaskan Natives) and 56% were male (nine Caucasian and nine Alaskan Native) resulting in 44% of participants reporting minority status.

Scores on the Achenbach Youth Self-Report (Achenbach YSR: 1991), Rosenberg Self-Esteem (Rosenberg, 1965), and FACES III (Olson, Porter & Lavee, 1985) were subjected to repeated measure ANCOV As and Multiple Regression. As hypothesized, it was found that Alaskan respondents reported significantly higher levels of problem behaviors and lower levels of self-esteem. When overall efficacy was examined by group, results indicated that females, and especially Alaskan females, reported no significant increases in levels of self-esteem from intake to year four. Post-hoc tests indicated that Alaskan females reported significantly lower levels of self-esteem than Caucasian females at the 12 and 48-month interviews. Alaskan males experienced lower levels of self-esteem than Caucasian males until year four at which time there was virtually no difference between these two groups. Alaskan females remained within the clinical range on total scores of the YSR at all follow-ups with the exception of the 36- month when they were slightly below. Alaskan males also reported significantly higher levels of problem behaviors than Caucasian males at the 24 and 36-month interviews and just missed significance at the 48-month. Overall Multiple regression revealed that being White and being Male was a significant predictor of higher levels of self-esteem. Overall effect size within the outcome study was quite large for the field with eta-squared = .18, which coincides with a large effect of .80 as specified by Cohen's d (1988). Average power within the outcome study was also somewhat high in the field .60, but well below the recommended level of .80 (Cohen, 1988). Discussion includes addressing cultural and gender development as important indices of outcome, and methodological issues were explored.

Phase II involved the completion of a meta-analysis where 16 psychological journals associated with the treatment of problem youth containing 3600 citations published between 1994 - 1999 were searched for key words related to juvenile delinquency and residential treatment. This effort resulted in the examination of700 abstracts leading to the selection of 86 (12%) articles including information on residential treatment specifically. Of those eighty-six articles included, 26 (30%) discussed outcome, while only 12 of these (46%) included the relevant information to be included in the statistical analysis (pre-post and or comparison groups and the necessary summary statistics). The 12 articles included 306 statistical tests with an average power of .25, .68, and .87 for detecting effect sizes for Cohen's d of small, medium, and large effects respectively. Only 3 articles offered enough information to determine effect size resulting in an average effect of .26. Corrections for bias due to sample size (Hedge's gu, 1985) lowered this to .25. The overall meta-analysis revealed a significant Z of 8.83 indicating positive outcome between pre-post tests and/or comparison groups. Rosenthal's fail-safe N indicated that 333 null findings completed between 1994 – 1999 would be necessary to make the overall Z score non-significant. Unfortunately, only six of the studies included outcome associated with females and only 2 for minority youths. While the number of articles including information regarding outcome for females was small limiting reliability, the overall Z score associated with these articles was also significant Z = 3.56. This finding is suspect as it does not meet the tolerance level for null effects (Rosenthal, 1979) as only 22 would be necessary to threaten this significant finding. Methodological issues, treatment modalities, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Phase III of this project includes an Epilogue that explores the philosophical debates existing in the field of scientific inquiry. It highlights the importance of expanding our existing methods and ontological positions so that a more comprehensive "truth" may be evident: one that may not be possible while relying on a mechanistic and objective model of reality and dichotomize testing. It directs our attention to what science was, what it is now, and speculates as to what it could be in the future. These expansions in thought and method are then applied to the findings within this paper.



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