Oct 17, 2011


Social Skills Training was experimentally evaluated with young male offenders in
a Community Home School. The program aims to help offenders learn the skills
necessary for effective social interaction to increase self esteem and adopt an
internal locus of control. Topics taught are targeted to the specific
population’s needs and range from eye contact to accepting criticism. The
evaluation found that Social Skill Training has positive impacts on self-esteem
and internal locus of control, but these impacts were no longer statistically
significant at the six-month follow-up.


Child and adolescent male offenders

Skills Training intends to help reverse the tendency for young offenders to have
external loci of control and low self-esteem. It aims to help offenders
increase self esteem through heightening one’s own sense of value, worthiness,
adequacy, and competence, in addition to helping one perceive a causal
relationship between one’s behavior and its consequences. Social Skills
Training teaches skills necessary for successful social interaction, which are
expected in turn to increase adaptive and pro-social behavior. As an offender
becomes better at controlling social situations resulting in positive outcomes,
it is expected that there would be a shift in locus of control towards taking
responsibility for those outcomes. The intent is for a positive attitude change
to occur alongside a change in behavior to produce a lasting impact. Social
Skills Training consists of 12 one-hour sessions, occurring twice a week in a
Community Home School. Strategies include instructions, discussions, modeling
through videotape or live with peers, role-play and practice, videotaped
feedback, social reinforcement and homework assignments and tasks. Focus is
given to skills that offenders are deficient in according to pre-assessments,
such as eye contact, interaction skills, dealing with teasing or bullying, and
accepting criticism.


Spence, A.J. & Spence, S.H. (1979). Cognitive changes associated with social
skills training. Behavior Research and Therapy, 18, 265-272.

were 44 male offenders of mixed ethnic backgrounds between the ages of 10 and 16
years attending a local Authority Community Home School. All participants were
the subjects of Care Orders, resulting from offenses ranging from truancy to
arson and assault.

Approach: Participants were
part of a larger population of boys in a study investigating the long term
generalized benefits of social skills training with young male offenders. They
had been previously randomly assigned, in groups of four, to a social skills
training condition which received the treatment described above, an
attention-placebo control condition, which received the same amount of training
as the social skills training group but focused on watching and re-enacting
pro-social videos, or a no-treatment control condition. Pre-and post-test and
six-month follow-up locus of control and self esteem questionnaires were
completed. One participant was unavailable at the follow-up.

Participants in the social skills training condition experienced a short-term
increase in self-esteem, suggesting that their participation in the program
increased concepts of perceived self-worth, value, and adequacy. Additionally,
results suggest a significant shift in locus of control for participants of the
social skills training program, citing greater belief that their behaviors are
controlled by themselves rather than external factors. The attention-placebo
control group did not have significant changes in locus of control, but did show
significant short-term changes in self-esteem. The no-treatment control group
had a slight short-term shift toward internality, but no significant changes in
self-esteem. At the six-month follow-up, the social skills training group had
decreased levels of self esteem, while the attention-placebo control and no
treatment conditions showed levels similar to the pre-test. All groups had a
shift back toward external locus of control at the six-month follow-up,
suggesting no long-term effects for the treatment.



Spence, A.J. & Spence, S.H. (1979). Cognitive changes associated with social
skills training. Behavior Research and Therapy, 18, 265-272.

KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Adolescents (12-17), Male Only, Juvenile Offenders,
Counseling/Therapy, Social Skills/Life Skills, Self-Esteem/Self-Concept, Locus
of Control, Delinquency, Behavioral Problem, Skills Training

Program information last updated on 10/17/11