Section 3: Assessment
2 Hours

Lecture Topic TOPIC: ASSESSMENT

Part I: Broad Assessment Issues

Assessment as a Multidisciplinary and Ongoing Process

One of the key messages emphasized throughout this training is the importance of a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to managing youthful sex offenders. This is especially critical when thinking about assessment.

In other words, it is important that the range of professionals involved in juvenile sex offender management do not limit their views of assessment by assuming that only specialized clinicians or evaluators are involved. Rather, it should be recognized that all stakeholders have a role in assessing these youth, and that everyone benefits from receiving assessment information. Consider for a moment the following definition of assessment found on slide 3.

Use SlideUse Slide #3: Defining Assessment

Now let’s think about the various people who are involved in juvenile sex offender management, either because of their role in the juvenile justice system or simply because of their routine contact with these youth. Each of them has—in some unique ways—the opportunity to consider the significance of certain behaviors exhibited by these youth, or to observe or monitor them, don’t they?

So, let’s talk about that for a few minutes as we review a list of the various individuals who have contact with juvenile sex offenders on a day–to–day basis or who play a key role at specific points in the juvenile sex offender management process.

Use SlideUse Slide #4: Examples of Key Stakeholders

Certainly, forensic evaluators can play a role, with respect to assessment specifically by conducting comprehensive psychosexual evaluations that assist the courts and other system actors with decisionmaking about these youth.

What about a specialized treatment provider—how might they involved in be conducting assessments? And what do they assess?

(ALLOW FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSES.)

That’s right—a treatment provider has the ability and opportunity to assess many important clinical variables such as participation and progress in treatment, compliance with treatment expectations, or adherence to relapse prevention plans. However, the youth is only seen in the treatment setting for a limited amount of time each week, and the behaviors that the treatment provider observes may be quite different than what other professionals have the opportunity—or the expectation—to observe or assess.

For example, what types of things should a supervision officer observe, evaluate, or assess when attempting to determine on an ongoing basis how a youth is doing, or whether it is safe to allow a youth to remain in the community?

(ALLOW FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSES.)

Yes—a supervision officer assesses a number of factors, including the structure provided by the parents, significant problems or strengths within the home, the youth’s compliance with the conditions of supervision, his or her peer groups, the use of drugs or alcohol, or recent incidents of aggression or violence.

What about a teacher? What specific things does a teacher observe or monitor that may impact juvenile sex offender management efforts?

(ALLOW FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSES.)

Since these juveniles are in school for a good part of the day, five days a week, most of the year, teachers have the unique and routine opportunity to observe changes in the youth’s mood or behavior, adjustment in the classroom, relationship with peers or authority figures, and school performance.

We could go through the rest of this list, and could probably come up with others to add to the list, but you get the point, right? By considering the roles of each of these professionals, their exposure to juvenile sex offenders and their families in multiple contexts, and the differing types of information each of these individuals are able to gather though observing or monitoring the youth, it becomes fairly clear that assessment really does extend beyond the role of a specialized evaluator. And taken together, all of the assessment data obtained from this range of individuals certainly can contribute to effective juvenile sex offender management efforts.

Beyond recognizing the important role that all stakeholders play in assessing juvenile sex offenders, something else that should now be apparent is that assessment is not just about a single, “one point in time” evaluation of a youth. Rather, assessment is perhaps best considered as an ongoing process.

Use SlideUse Slide #5: Ongoing Process, Not an Event

Of course, there are some formal and specialized types of assessments or evaluations that are conducted by specific people and which occur only at specific points in time, such as a pre-sentence/pre-disposition report or a psychosexual evaluation. We will discuss those a little later in this section. But since we know that significant changes are likely to occur over time with these youth, their families, their peers, and in their environments, it is important that those involved in juvenile sex offender management gather information on a continuous basis, through routine observation and monitoring, so that they can respond effectively and in a timely manner to these changes.

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