Youth Offending Services
"Staff development in some [Youth Offending] establishments currently focuses on physical management of aggression and violence rather than developing skills to avert conflict." from the Carlile Inquiry, The Howard League for Penal Reform
Children and young people offend for a variety of reasons – social and family problems, peer group pressures, social exclusion, truancy, drug problems. If young people are to be prevented from re-offending they need the input of staff with the knowledge and skills to assist them to make the right life choices. Being able to communicate with them and be understood is key to guiding young offenders towards the best outcomes possible. It is now a well-known fact that 60 to 70% of young offenders have communication issues. It is therefore essential for youth offending services to have an understanding of these issues and to have in their ‘tool-box’ a few techniques to anticipate and reduce the impact of communication issues on their work.
The Box training programme provides effective speech and language therapy skills. Staff learn to identify the subtler signs of speech, language and communication needs, to simplify their verbal and written contacts and improve the engagement of the youths.
Thorough training on the use of a screening tool is also included in the course. Developed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, this is the same screening tool that is included in AssetPlus, the new assessment framework to be introduced by the Youth Justice Board in 2015. Preparing your team is paramount: our pilot showed that once confidence is gained in the correct use of the tool, staff have a more positive attitude and a greater willingness to use it.
Training your staff also helps with the inspection process since addressing communication issues is an important evaluation criterion. In addition the skills acquired during the course will:
- Enhance the offenders' ability to understand legal proceedings and orders when required
- Reduce violent episodes and aggressive behaviour
- Enable meaningful participation by the offender with support and diversion services, such as:
- pupil referral units
- drug rehabilitation services
- education programmes
- employment schemes