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@Issue 360 | Issue 32 | July 2019

Historically, determining appropriate placements for juveniles with sexually problematic behaviors (SPBs) has been a hot-button topic. Some may feel that a highly restrictive level of care is always appropriate for the juvenile given the nature of their offense(s), while others believe that there should be an option that provides a significantly lower level of restriction because of their age. Like many things in the mental health field, there is seldom a right or wrong option. Instead, the best solution can often be found somewhere in the middle; on a constantly evolving continuum.

The fund of knowledge within the field of psychology is always growing, leading to a better understanding of adolescents and their behaviors. We know that despite two seemingly similar behaviors (in this case, SPBs), there may be drastically different roots or causes. We also know that behaviors tend to escalate in severity and frequency over time without proper interventions. With proper early intervention, a juvenile’s sexually problematic behavior(s) can be extinguished; replacing the negative behaviors with positive coping skills and insight into their offense behaviors. As noted earlier, deciding the appropriate level of intervention can be a struggle at times. Too often it may feel like a response is ‘too much’ or ‘too little,’ without any option that could represent a balance.

Edison Court’s PATHS program attempts to fill the gap in services, providing that middle ground when being removed from the community may be too much, but remaining home is not appropriate either. Because residents at PATHS are consistently and actively involved in the community from the very beginning, their referral offense dynamics tend to be less violent and forceful in nature.  Often times, the typical PATHS resident has not yet experienced a longstanding history of offense-related behaviors. The average PATHS resident has also demonstrated more opportunism and less planning in their offense-related behaviors. Their victims also tend to be family members, not strangers or peers; an important distinction when considering their continued active involvement in the community while at PATHS.

Lastly, the residents at PATHS present with fewer offense related and/or aggressive behavioral concerns; allowing them to dorm in unlocked rooms and be involved in the community. Choosing the best placement for a juvenile with problematic sexual behaviors may often feel like the restrictions are too intensive or not restrictive enough. PATHS provides a comfortable middle ground that allows juveniles with less of a history of sexually problematic behaviors, aggression, or violence to remain active in the community while receiving residential treatment outside of the home.



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