Final Assignment

PSY 620

Week 6 Handbook

Table of Contents

Preface (3)

Introduction to Advocating for Juveniles (4)

Behaviorism and Social Learning Theories(5)

Behaviorism(6) (7)

Social learning theory(8)

Problem Solving(9)







Ever since I was a child, I have always been interested in the way people think. I always love to listen and to give advice and am often the one people lean on in times of trouble. As I grew older, I also developed an interest in working with children. Social work is also an area that I thought about working in so to put all these things together would work in a career as juvenile advocate. I am writing this handbook to talk about helping juveniles get their lives back on track in healthy ways. As a child, I dealt with physical abuse as well as mental abuse at the hands of my adopted mother, which is part of the reason why my passion is so strong to want to help others overcome difficult situations. I know first hand how bad it hurts and how it can really change you and affect your adult life.

My husband was very supportive of me while I have been in school going towards my career. My children are part of the reason I returned to school. I want to make a better life for them and we have all put in sacrifices to get me to where I am today.


Psychology is a study of the mind, and it involves looking at the many different reasons why someone reacts to certain situations or responds to certain stimuli. In this handbook, I will be discussing six different theories that discuss how they responds to the delinquency of juveniles and the reason why we need to fix that cycle before it comes down to them actually being incarcerated. First we have operant and classical conditioning. Operant conditioning answers the what when and why we do anything. Operant conditioning modifies behavior through the use of positive and negative reinforcements. Almost like a rewards system. This helps an individual make the association between a behavior and a consequence. (Skinner, 1938)” (McLeod, 2015, n.p.). Classical conditioning talks about learning a new behavior through the process of association. Two different stimuli become linked together to make a new kind of response. We see this when we have a situation like a person with a phobia of dentists or doctors. (McLeod, 2015, n.p.). Adding new stimuli can change the behavior such as a better dentist or doctor. Understanding conditioning can help to find out why a juvenile is acting out and how to fix the behavior. Adolescents do not see the consequences of their actions sometimes until they are being disciplined. “Attention is sometimes described as a spotlight that focuses your awareness on a subset of what’s going on in your head or in your environment. Some people naturally have more control over the spotlight than others”(PT, 2018, n.p.).

Behaviorism and Social Learning Theory

Next I would like to talk about behaviorism and social learning. Behaviorism Behaviorism is a psychological approach that refers to a situation in which children are met with negative environmental events that lead to behavior changes that land these children in juvenile facilities. Social learning is when children look at the behavior of other people around them which in turn modifies their own personal behavior. (McLeod, 2017, n.p.). Theorist Albert Bandura agreed with the theory of classical and operant conditioning. Decision makers can form expectations concerning future events that are often described in terms of probabilities or degrees of confidence. We must also talk about the reason language is so important. This is the way that juveniles communicate what they have learned. Theories of Chomskian influence propose that knowledge develops as a result of a trigger action from the environment and is obtained without errors whenever the speaker’s linguistic competence is activated. (Ornat, 2004, p. 152). Adolescents and children learn in different stages. These stages are physical, mental and emotional. Experiential learning translates the inferences from an organization’s experience into knowledge and routines. This will systematically alter subsequent behaviors in the future. (Aranda, 2017, p. 1191). We can help to prevent a child from entering the judicial system by helping them learn organizational skills.


Talking more about behaviorism, we can see this applying more to children than it does to adults. Behaviorism also emphasizes scientific and objective methods of investigation. (McLeod, 2017, n.p.) Children learn how they should behave due to positive and negative reinforcement as well as punishments and they act according to these things. The way that a child develops sets the stage for how a child continues to learn into their adult years.(Cloninger, 2013). Some of examples of how children learn to behave is when they are newborns. Newborns and babies cry when they are hungry, when they want their diaper changed, or just when they want to be held. They learn that when they cry, they get their needs or wants met. You can even notice that a child will have different cries for different things. Behavior therapy was developed due to people developing negative behavior by being conditioned by environmental events. (Guercio, 2018, p. 6) It is proven that when juveniles are in negative environments, their behavior changes.

Bandura says that there are four different steps that we go through when we are learning a new behavior. These four steps are attention which is what we notice, retention which is how we remember information, reproduction, which is how we perform the action and motivation which is why we perform. (McLeod, 2016, n.p.)

Not much has changed in the way that we analyze a juvenile’s behavior. Stimuli also has something to do with the way we retain information. An example of this is when we learn not to touch a hot stove because it is hot. Our mind has conditioned us to know that we should not touch hot things.

Studies have shown that juveniles have a habit of participating in all kinds of destructive behaviors such as stealing, consuming alcohol, gambling, drug use, bullying, fraud, cheating, aggressive and violent behaviors. (F, 2016, p.1610).

So we ask ourselves what makes children act out in this ways? It is thought that delinquent behaviors starting at a young age can be found to be possible signs of psycho-pathology and that these behaviors may be the cause of developmental issues beginning in childhood that carry on into adulthood. (F, 2016, p.1610). We can even question whether or not social environments can influence behavior in children. If a child is exposed to negative behavior, they are more likely to pick up on those behaviors. “Hruba and Zaloudikova found that smoking behavior in grades 3 and 5 were attributed to the influence of less educated and less successful social groups. It has even said that children who grow up in low income or poverty stricken environments are not likely to have a good chance to have a good childhood development.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning is described as the way in which one observes the behavior of others which directly affects how they modify their own behaviors. (McLeod, 2017, n.p.) Bandura agreed with the theories of classical and operant conditioning. He also had extra ideas added to these theories. He felt that mediating processes occurred between stimuli and responses. He also felt that behavior is learned through observational learning. (McLeod, 2017, n.p.) Children learn what is socially right and wrong by what they see their peers do. This is why peer pressure comes into play so hard when children hit school age years. They also notice when children are punished or rewarded and sometimes they will mimic that behavior to get the same results. “It seems important to insist on the specificity of social appraisal processes: by taking into account the emotional reaction of others, subjects acquire new information about a given object, event, or person.” (Dukes, 2017, p.268)

Problem Solving

So we need to look at how we could possibly solve the problem with these children before it gets out of hand and they become wards of the courts. I am sure you have always heard people say that problems need to be first addressed at home. There has been many research studies that show that ineffective parenting directly has an effect on the emotional and behavioral issues in adolescents. (Shokoohi-Yekta, 2015, p. 667) When parents do not demand respect from their children in the home setting, it will carry on into schools, friends houses, etc. There are programs out there that are designed to help parents if they need help with their children that have behavioral issues such as anxiety, anger, depression, stress, etc. These programs help assist the juveniles with their interactions within their family and other children. Teaching better communication skills will help get rid of some of the actions that is bringing them all the negative attention. (Shokoohi-yekta, 2015, p. 679) If all of these things do not work, the family may need an advocate such as a social worker or a counselor. This can help stop the process of the child becoming a ward of the state.


Demographics are important in telling you what programs are available for children. “Given that most urban voters do not have children who rely on public resources, advocates working in these settings often find it difficult to arouse passion and mobilize action around youth” (Deschenes, 2008, p.12).Some organizations find that it is an issue to prove to the public that they need more juvenile programs. They try to show the public that if these programs are not available that there will be more crime and violence being reported. Data shows that once children are put into the system, that they rarely go down a positive path and instead commit more crimes and eventually end up in prison. (Deschenes, 2008, p. 15) When we analyze the data and look at where the delinquent children are coming from, we see that the home life is a huge issue and a big part of why they are committing the acts that they are. “The current study shows that maltreated boys—compared to controls of similar age, race, and neighborhood—have a higher rate of persistent serious delinquency” (Stouthamer-Loeber, 2002, p.269). Juveniles who are victims of abuse and neglect have more delinquent behaviors than those who are not experiencing that. We can’t decide if it is a learned pattern because we do not know the criminal background of the people raising these children. In order for us to help the adolescents the best we can, it is important to take all demographics into consideration so that we know what area to focus on. When we look at demographics of the sexes, girls seem to be the ones that take the most risks.

“For boys, the threshold detects 57% of the delinquents in late childhood and girls only 47% in adolescence. For girls, however, these percentages were 74% and 67% respectively” (Wong, 2013, p.650). The reason why girls make up the larger part of the delinquency is because they have a higher chance of being arrested for prostitution. There has been a decrease and this may be because of the increase in social workers and child advocacy programs.


Sometimes we need an extra person to come in and help the juvenile and to try to analyze their behavior and try to find out what is going on. The goal of the advocate is to develop an effective plan and focus on the current events that are related to the behavior of the juvenile. (Collins, 2017, p.182) When we sit down and look at the events that happened before and after the negative behavior, we are closer to finding out why the behavior actually happened. By having someone from the outside look at the situation, it is easier to analyze the situation. Advocates are able to find out the proper mental health, educational needs, and substance abuse counseling that a juvenile may need. (Collins, 2017, p.182) Proper assessments must be done to find out where a juvenile should be placed at. (Bernstein, 2009, p. xvi)


If a juvenile has a mentor working with them directly, that may have a better outcome than putting them in a group with other juveniles with no outside support. There have been programs developed that have been developed to try to further these goals by connecting at risk adolescents with outside role models. These role models provide emotional support, academic assistance, etc. (Bernstein, 2009, p. xiii) One program that you may have heard of that is available now is the Big Brother Big Sister program. Having an older person they can look up to can make all the difference in putting them on a positive path. They can do things with them like help with homework, help to coach them in sports, help them with career goals, etc. (Abbaly, 2011, p. 160). The mentor must match the child’s interests. For example, you can’t assign a mentor that is interested in mechanics to someone who is interested in art. The juvenile would not be interested in the mentor when their interests are so different. We cannot assign a mentor who is interested in automotive to a juvenile who is interested in engineering. The benefits of the program are dependent on the relationship between the mentor and the child.(Kupersmidt, 2017, p. 25) The mentor also needs to be stable because if the relationship were to end unexpectedly, it could do more harm than anything because the child would feel abandoned and it could trigger the same negative behaviors.


It can also be the case that children just do not know that what they are doing is wrong. This is why an advocate is so important. The advocate can show them positive reinforcement and can help to alter the negative behavior that the juvenile was used to seeing in their previous or current environment. Advocates will do the research to find out why the child is outing out the way they are and come up with solutions to help. Humans produce a response to stimuli in their environment and by focusing on these stimuli will help the juvenile to change their behavior patterns. Once the juvenile learns how they are supposed to act, they can start to recognize positive actions and qualities. Mentoring helps to develop and maintain self-esteem. But the mentor is not the only support that one needs. The adolescent also needs support from their parents, community, therapist, etc. Mentoring should also be for longer than six months. Juveniles have been shown to respond to and mimic behavior and for juveniles to start to mimic behavior, they have to see it for an extended period of time.


Abbaly, J. (2011). Mentoring Youths: Key To Unlocking The Future. IFE Psychologia, 156-168.

Aranda, C., Arellano, J., & Davila, A. (2017). Organizational learning in target setting. Academy of Management Journal, 60(3), 1189-1211. doi:10.5465/amj.2014.0897

Bernstein, L., Rappaport, C. D., Olsho, L., Hunt, D., Levin, M., & Institute of Education Sciences (ED), N. A. (2009). Impact Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program. Final Report. NCEE 2009-4047. National Center For Education Evaluation And Regional Assistance

Cloninger, S. (2013). Theories of personality: Understanding persons. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Collins L, Zirkel P. Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans: Legal Requirements and Professional Recommendations. Journal Of Positive Behavior Interventions [serial online]. July 2017;19(3):180. Available from: Complementary Index, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 22, 2018.

Deschenes, S., McLaughlin, M., & Newman, A. (2008). Organizations advocating for youth: the local advantage. New Directions For Youth Development, 2008(117), 11-25. doi:10.1002/yd.244

Dukes, D., & Clément, F. (2017). Author reply: Clarifying the importance of ostensive communication in life-long, affective social learning. Emotion Review, 9(3), 267-269. doi:10.1177/1754073916679006

F, J., & Yu, J. J. (2016). First Delinquent Behavior Among Pre-Pubescent Children: A Development Paradigm Alongside Family SES. International Journal Of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, 60(14), 1609. doi:10.1177/0306624X15581456

Guercio, J. M. (2018). The importance of a deeper knowledge of the history and theoretical foundations of behavior analysis: 1863–1960. Behavior Analysis: Research And Practice, 18(1), 4-15. doi:10.1037/bar0000123

Kupersmidt, J. B., Stump, K. N., Stelter, R. L., & Rhodes, J. E. (2017). Predictors of Premature Match Closure in Youth Mentoring Relationships. American Journal Of Community Psychology, 59(1/2), 25-35. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12124

McLeod, S.A. (2014). Classical Conditioning. Retrieved from

Ornat, S. L., & Gallo, P. (2004). Acquisition, learning, or development of language? Skinner’s ‘verbal behavior’ revisited . Spanish Journal of Psychology, 7(2), 161-170. doi:10.1017/S1138741600004868

Shokoohi-Yekta, M., & Malayeri, S. A. (2015). Effects of Advanced Parenting Training on Children’s Behavioral Problems and Family Problem Solving. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 205(6th World Conference on Psychology, Counseling and Guidance (WCPCG-2015), 676-680. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.09.106

Stouthamer-Loeber, M., Wei, E. H., Homish, D. L., & Loeber, R. (2002). Which Family and Demographic Factors Are Related to Both Maltreatment and Persistent Serious Juvenile Delinquency?. Children’s Services: Social Policy, Research & Practice, 5(4), 261-272.

Wong, T. L., Loeber, R., Slotboom, A., Bijleveld, C. H., Hipwell, A. E., Stepp, S. D., & Koot, H. M. (2013). Sex and Age Differences in the Risk Threshold for Delinquency. Journal Of Abnormal Child Psychology, (4), 641.