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31 August, 2006

New Smart Thinking resource for young offenders

As the Youth Justice Board announce that young offender institutions are nearing operational capacity, the Citizenship Foundation has published a new social and moral reasoning programme for use with young offenders and those at risk of offending. ‘Smart Thinking’ has been designed to improve both the behaviour and quality of life of young offenders, by helping them to develop moral awareness, reasoning and thinking skills about offending and antisocial behaviour.

Written by Don Rowe from the Citizenship Foundation and Amanda Dickson, former head of Programmes and Training at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, ‘Smart Thinking’ is a group based intervention for use with young people between the ages of 12 and 18 in secure or community settings.

The 10 two hour sessions allow young people to explore different forms of questioning and to share experiences with others through group peer discussions of issues that they can see as relevant or of interest to themselves and in particular, skills they may not be able to develop in one to one sessions.

The programme encourages the development of a range of thinking and communication skills and helps participants to improve their ability to think about moral aspects of everyday life, with particular reference to offending behaviour. It also aims to enhance self-awareness and verbal interaction.

Author Don Rowe said, “The aim of the programme is to provide a setting that is neither patronising nor moralising, but that will allow young people to develop communication and reasoning skills they may not previously had an opportunity to explore. These skills are vital to the way they interact with others as well as their own future quality of life.”

Primarily designed for use by youth justice workers, ‘Smart Thinking’ contains photocopiable materials for sessions and extensive guidance in the form of a toolkit on getting started and delivering the programme. The course can also be used in schools with pupils at risk of offending or with behavioural issues. Independent empirical evaluation of the programme demonstrated that participants were more able to empathise with others and think about complex moral dilemmas.

Copies of the course are available from Russell House Publishing at £29.95 each. Please call 01297 443948 for more information.

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