Juvenile Justice

I studied the juvenile system and family therapy at Western Oregon State College (now WOU), copleting my Master of Science degree in 1991. My research is presented here, including my thesis.*

My degree is in Interdisciplinary Studies, which was a combination of Psychology (Psych.), Criminal Justice (CJ), and Clinical Child and Youth Work (CCYW).

Differential Treatment of Females in the Juvenile Justice System
Psych. 592, Psychology of Women, Winter Quarter, 1990.

Analysis of [Juvenile Correctional Facility]
This is my journal of my internship working in the sex offender ward at a local juvenile reform school.

The Impact of Family Violence on Shaping Delinquent Behavior
Psych 464G, Psychology of Adolescence, Spring Quarter, 1990.

Legal and Social Implications of Childhood Abuse and Delinquency
CJ 451G, Juvenile Delinquency, Spring Quarter, 1990.

Research Article Critique
Term paper, graduate statistics class.

ISKCON as an Addictive Organization
CCYW 578, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Winter Quarter, 1990 (updated and posted at my website, Surrealist.org).

Lost Essays

These were written and graded, but do not exist in electronic format.

Helping Severely Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents Through a Day Treatment Program, CJ 563, Juvenile Issues, Winter Quarter, 1991.

Juvenile Delinquency: Can Art Therapy Help? CJ 563, Juvenile Issues, Winter Quarter, 1991.

Term Project: One Student's Analysis and Journal, CJ 555, Correctional Casework and Counseling, Fall Quarter, 1990.

Compare and Contrast: Two Parent Training Methods, CCYW 562, Family Work in Child and Youth Services, Fall Quarter, 1990.

Treating an Aggressive Child With a Medical/Behavioral Model Compared to a Systemic Approach, CCYW 576.

Aggressive and Self-Destructive Behavior in Children and Youth, Fall Quarter, 1990.

Abstract - Reaction - Application: Seven Chapters from Mirkin & Koman, CCYW 562, Family Work in Child and Youth Services, Fall Quarter, 1990.

Group Therapy: Sorting Fact from Fiction, Psych. 450G, Abnormal Psychology, Summer Quarter, 1990.

A Developmental Explanation of Social Anxiety, Psych. 460G, Advanced Developmental Psychology, Summer Quarter, 1990.

Toward a Ritual of Divorce, CCYW 587, Contemporary Issues in Family Therapy, Spring Quarter, 1990.

Ethical and Professional Considerations in the Field of Juvenile Delinquency, CJ 451G, Juvenile Delinquency, Spring Quarter, 1990.

Case Study of a Remarried Family, CCYW 587, Contemporary Issues in Family Therapy, Spring Quarter, 1990.

A Fourth Generation German American on German American Family Life, CCYW 587, Contemporary Issues in Family Therapy, Spring Quarter, 1990.

Comparison of Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy's Contextual Therapy With Jay Haley's Strategic Therapy, CCYW 585, Theories and Methods of Family Therapy, Winter Quarter, 1990.


My thesis outlines an art therapy-based treatment plan for juvenile sex offenders. Then it analyzes data I collected from a sample of counselors who stated in their telephone book ads they treated sex abuse victims or sex offenders. I asked the counselors whether they would use art therapy to treat child abuse victims, juvenile victims-turned-offenders, or adult sex offenders.

Graduate students are welcome to replicate my study, but if you use my materials or quote from my thesis, I ask that you acknowledge my contribution to your work. Please cite me as follows in your references: "Nori Muster, author of A Four-Phase Treatment Design for Juvenile Sex Offenders, Western Oregon University, 1991, norimuster.com."

In the years since I did this study, much more has come to light about child abuse. Although I advocate informed art therapy for children and juveniles, fixated pedophiles over the age of eighteen are pretty certainly incurable. If a fixated pedophile forgives himself, or thinks all he has to do is draw pictures, healing is stopped. Before a perpetrator can forgive himself, he must acknowledge the pain he caused his victims and change. Therefore, fixated pedophiles are not at a stage where art therapy can help them. That's why I only worked with juveniles. I believe juvenile sex offenders have their last chance to redeem themselves before they reach the age of majority.

Abstract, Table of Contents
Introduction, Hypothesis, Treatment Design
Statistics - Attitudes Toward Art Therapy
Conclusions, Back Matter
Examples of Juvenile Sex Offender Art Therapy

Treating the Adolescent Victim-Turned-Offender
Article based on my thesis; published in the quarterly academic journal, Adolescence, Vol. 27, No. 106, Summer 1992.

These are the classes I took at Western Oregon University, Marylhurst University Extension, and UCLA Extension Writer's Program. Back then, WOU was known as WOSC, Western Oregon State College. Marylhurst University was known as Marylhurst College.


Western Oregon University
Master of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies
1989-1991, GPA 4.0

CRIMINAL JUSTICE 451g Juvenile Delinquency Social dimensions of juvenile delinquency, its nature, demographic distribution, comparison and analysis of agencies, police, courts, individuals, groups, and community efforts in their respective roles of treatment, control, and prevention.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE 506 Special Individual Studies - volunteer work-study at a local youth correctional facility.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE 555 Correctional Casework and Counseling - History, development and contemporary practices, theories and techniques of juvenile and adult correctional casework, counseling and treatment.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE 563 Juvenile Issues - Topics include trends in juvenile, family, school, social agencies, and the court.

EDUCATION 512 Statistics - Methods, techniques, and tools of research. Development of a proposal for a study, and development of the criteria and methods for reading and evaluating research.

PSYCHOLOGY 450g Abnormal Psychology - The nature, causes, and treatment of various forms of unusual behavior and emotional disturbance. The full range of abnormality as defined in the Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Course will integrate perspectives generated from psychological theory, research, and physiological findings.

PSYCHOLOGY 460g Advanced Developmental Psychology - Theories of human development across the lifespan, including a review of related research findings and consideration of practical applications.

PSYCHOLOGY 464g Psychology of Adolescence - Transitions and issues of adolescence, including an overview of theory and research with an emphasis on applications for parents, teachers, and professionals offering services to adolescents and youth.

PSYCHOLOGY 592 Psychology of Women - Psychological methods to the study of women's roles and behavior. Sub-topics include development, sexuality, achievement, aptitudes, and work.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 562m Family Work for Child and Youth - Approaches to treatment with families of troubled children and youth, such as systemic methods, parent training, filial therapy, and education and support groups. Covers cognitive understanding and skill acquisition.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 576m Aggressive and Self-Destructive Behavior in Children and Youth - Theories and methods of understanding, managing, and treating aggressive and self-destructive behavior in children and youth. Topic include theories of childhood aggression, methods of aggression management, social and legal implications of isolation and restraint, theories of suicide and self-destructive behavior, suicide prevention and crisis intervention.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 578 Child and Youth Drug and Alcohol Treatment - Research and theoretical explanations for alcohol and drug abuse in children and youth. Topics include individual, family, and peer involvement in substance abuse; treatment modalities and strategies.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 585 Theories and Methods of Family Therapy - Current theories of family treatment and their methods: Structural Strategic, Communications, Multi-Generational. Also, innovative methods of family treatment, genogram construction, multiple family groups, networking, video tape playback.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 587 Contemporary Issues in Family Therapy - Topics include divorce, step-parenting, blended families, ethnicity, single-parent families, dual paycheck families.

CLINICAL CHILD AND YOUTH WORK 503 Thesis - Develop and write master's thesis under committee chair's supervision.


Marylhurst University

ART THERAPY 016 Introduction to Family Art Therapy - workshop on relevant uses of art therapy in family work.

ART THERAPY 050 Adult Survivor's of Incest - workshop to learn art therapy techniques for survivors.

ART THERAPY 077 Introduction to Dream Workshop - art therapy and dream work.

ART THERAPY Art Therapy and the 12 Steps - art therapy in conjunction with 12 steps.

ART THERAPY 091 Form as Content - Gestalt art therapy workshop with Janie Rhyne.

ART THERAPY 093 Introduction to Art Therapy Workshop - workshop to learn basic art therapy techniques.

PRH 042 PRH: Who Am I? - writing workshop based on the PRH, Personality and Human Relationships, method.

SPIRITUALITY 075 Creation Spirituality - workshop on the just-published (now classic) book, Creation Spirituality, by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox.


University Extension Writers Program, UCLA

ENGLISH 451.4 - Autobiography into Fiction - writers workshop with Laura Olsher

ENGLISH 404.6 - Tapping Universal Sources - fiction writing workshop

ENGLISH 859.4 - Writers Frame of Mind - writing workshop with a focus on the psychology of writing

ENGLISH 806.19 - Writing as Healing - one-day workshop on creative art therapy

ENGLISH 404.13b - Spirit and Soul Writing Retreat - one week writers retreat with author Elizabeth Upton

ENGLISH 845.2 - First Novel: Planning, Beginning, and Writing - writer's fiction writing workshop

ART 822.6 - Dreamscapes: Drawing from Dreams - art workshop with artist Linda Jacobson

ART 823.1 - The Spiritual in Art Workshop - artist workshop with Linda Jacobson

Following are my Western Oregon University essays that survived; my thesis from WOU is also posted at this site.*

Differential Treatment of Females in the Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Crimes

       The juvenile justice system is meant to reform misbehaved children and keep them from becoming adult criminals. That's why juveniles can be arrested and tried for statutes that don't apply to adults (Shelden, Horvath, & Tracy, 1989). These crimes, commonly known as status offenses, include truancy, curfew violations, runaways, and general misbehavior—persons in need of supervision, persons judged unmanageable, incorrigible, and beyond control; persons in need of care and protection, and so on. Children convicted of such offenses may be incarcerated in a juvenile hall or even an adult jail, if there are no juvenile facilities available (Chesney-Lind, 1988b; Shelden, et al.). In such cases, even though they have not committed crimes, young people serve time alongside adult criminals convicted of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and even murder.
       Females are more likely to be arrested and referred to court for status offenses, despite indications that male status offenders are more likely to escalate into serious crime (Shelden, et al.). The National Center for Juvenile Justice said that in 1982, 30% of the girls in court, but only 10% of the boys, were charged with status offenses. Girls made up almost half (46%) of the juvenile justice defendants, even though boys committed 80% of the serious crimes (cited in Chesney-Lind, 1988b). In terms of arrests, 25.2% of all girls' arrests in 1986 were for status offenses, compared to only 8.3% for boys (Chesney-Lind).
       Although more girls are arrested for status offenses, self-report studies show that they do not actually engage in more delinquent behavior than boys. When asked to report on their own behavior, boys and girls admitted to similar incidents of alcohol and drug use, truancy, sexual intercourse, and stealing from the family. (Young people can be arrested for all of these activities.) In a study of 2,000 youths (Figueira-McDonough, 1985), researchers found girls and boys have similar involvements in status offenses. Another study (Canter, 1982) found that boys reported a greater number of status offenses than girls.
       A study of girls' runaway and incorrigibility (Teilmann & Landry, 1981) found a 10.4% over-representation in girls' arrests for incorrigibility. The study concluded that girls are more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses, when contrasted to their self-reported delinquency rates.
       There are several ways to interpret these findings. The most common theory is the difference in social expectations. "Girls are more often charged with being 'ungovernable,' in part because their usual passivity makes any departures from submissiveness conspicuous" (Rogers, p. 529). Rogers explains that the same delinquent behavior would often be ignored, or even condoned, in boys.
       Another factor is that girls' parents are more likely to involve the juvenile justice system in disputes with their daughters (Chesney-Lind, 1988b). Parents often initiate a status offense referral by calling the police. One study found that 72% of status offenders are turned in by relatives (Ketcham, 1978, cited in Chesney-Lind).

Who Are the Female Delinquents?

       Like other areas of psychological research, most studies of juvenile delinquency do not include girls (Rogers, 1962; Cernkovich, 1979; Chesney-Lind 1989). But there have been studies specifically about girls, which reveal interesting information about their backgrounds. Specifically, research has shown that a majority of female delinquents come from dysfunctional or broken homes (Rosenbaum, 1989; Chesney-Lind, 1988a, 1989). In Rosenbaum's study of 240 girls from the California Youth Authority (CYA), only 7% came from intact families. Another 25% lived in two-adult homes, although foster homes, homes of other relatives, or homes where the mother lived with one of a succession of husbands or boyfriends were included. Three-quarters of the girls (76%) came from homes where there was at least one other family member with a criminal record; in these cases one-third of the mothers and fathers (32% and 30% respectively) had criminal records. Of the mothers with criminal records, 50% had been arrested for felonies. The study found that 34% of the fathers and 31% of the mothers were known alcoholics; 81% of the families reported conflicts over alcohol in the home. In addition, 29% of the fathers and 27% of the mothers were diagnosed neurotics or psychotics.
       Another study of runaways (Farber and Kinast, 1984) found "an astounding amount of violence was directed toward youth who ran away." In that study, 37% of the mothers had been charged with abuse and/or neglect. Other studies have also revealed high levels of family violence, alcoholism, and mental illness. One researcher suggests that the status offense laws give parents the ability to "invoke official agencies of social control in their efforts to keep young women at home and vulnerable" (Chesney-Lind, 1989, p. 24).
       In her analysis of family dysfunction, Rosenbaum argues that runaway girls leave home "to break the generational cycle of despair" (p. 40). She criticizes the juvenile justice system, saying that runaway girls become double victims: victims of both their abusive families and the criminal justice system.
       In her study, Rosenbaum found that girls arrested for runaway were more likely to be held in detention than boys. Then upon release, authorities tend to return girls to their families, no matter how abusive the environment. Even when the girls were made a ward of the court, Rosenbaum found that they were usually sent home. One girl was returned to her family even though home was sometimes an abandoned car; another was returned to a home that a social worker had described as "an animal-like environment." One girl was returned home after her mother's release from prison. Although the mother had been convicted of throwing lye in a lover's face, the case worker believed "the girl had not been too damaged" by her mother's actions (p. 41). Rosenbaum criticized society's blind faith in the family unit and the notion that it is always best to return girls to their natural family.
       Chesney-Lind explained that the double victimization of girls amounted to blaming the victim (1988a, p. 146). In other words, a girl who runs away from an abusive home to protect herself is later identified as the criminal. Chesney-Lind cites a 1982 study (Phelps, et al.), which showed that 79% of delinquent girls in Wisconsin detention facilities were victims of physical abuse. The abuse ranged from bruises, welts, and pain, to being knocked unconscious (21%), to broken bones (12%). In addition, 50% reported being sexually assaulted, and 32% said they had been sexually abused by parents or others close to their families.

Attitudes Toward Female Juveniles

       The theory that the status offense laws are applied more severely to girls than to boys has stirred controversy in academic journals. Meda Chesney-Lind, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, has published a number or articles on the subject over the last 15 years. In "Girls' Crime and Woman's Place: Toward a Feminist Model of Female Delinquency" (1989), she calls the juvenile justice system a "major force in girls' oppression" and accuses the system of being "abusive and arbitrary" (p. 11). Because she offers a convincing historical analysis, her arguments will be explained here.
       Chesney-Lind begins her criticism of delinquency theory by saying that it has "virtually ignored female delinquency" (p. 10). Most studies only involve boys' crime rates, and further, most studies only investigate serious crimes, ignoring status offenses altogether. Because the scholarly research has been slanted, Chesney-Lind questions whether the existing theories of male delinquency can adequately explain female delinquency. Most research in this century has concentrated on lower-class male delinquency, especially gang activity. Chesney-Lind calls this the "West Side Story Syndrome" (p. 11), because it only considers gang activity, a small percentage of all juvenile delinquency. She argues the urgent need to rethink current delinquency models.
       Chesney-Lind explains that the movement to establish a separate institution for juveniles started in the early part of this century. It grew out of a wider social purity movement, which was a crusade against prostitution, child slavery, and other social evils. Women reformers who wanted to enter the traditionally male political arena found the childsaving movement a safe cause in which to invest their energies. Even women like Susan B. Anthony joined the social purists to oppose prostitution and raise the age of consent for girls. But ultimately, Chesney-Lind notes, "many of the early childsavers' activities revolved around the monitoring of young girl's, particularly immigrant girls', behavior to prevent their straying from the path" (1989, p. 15).
       Almost all girls brought to family court during this time were charged with immorality or waywardness. These charges essentially meant evidence of sexual intercourse. Upon arrest, girls faced lengthy and embarrassing interrogations from social workers and arresting officers. They were also subject to gynecological examinations to determine the condition of the hymen. Results were noted on their official records.
       Girls found guilty of immorality were severely penalized. During the years 1899 and 1909 in Chicago, where the first family court was founded, 50% of girl delinquents, but only 20% of boy delinquents, were sent to reformatories. In Milwaukee and Memphis, girls were twice as likely to be committed to training schools. Other studies have shown similar results, and further, the average length of incarceration for girls was five times that of boys (pp. 15-16).
       Many girl's reformatories and training schools were built during that period. They were called places of rescue and reform and were meant to isolate girls until marriageable age. Chesney-Lind said the people who set up the laws, the family courts, and the reform schools were simply "obsessed with precocious female sexuality" (p. 16). She traced these attitudes into the present day by quoting a contemporary judge who said, "Why, most of the girls I commit are for status offenses. I figure if a girl is about to get pregnant, we'll keep her until she's 16 and then the ADC [Aid to Dependent Children] will pick her up" (p. 16).
       Chesney-Lind points out an irony in contemporary juvenile delinquency theory. The juvenile justice system essentially grew out of a crusade against girls' sexual promiscuity, yet most studies only involve male subjects. She said this inconsistency is critical for girls, who are the clear losers in the reform effort. Even though girls are charged with less serious offenses, they are not treated less severely in the courts and detention facilities where they serve their sentences (pp. 10-11).
       Chesney-Lind and others have shown, by analyzing self-report statistics, that boys take part in status offenses with about the same frequency as girls. They indicate that the difference in girls' and boys' crime statistics are due to differential enforcement of the laws. Boys' behavior is tolerated, while girls are arrested, tried, and sentenced to institutions for less serious crimes.

Female Delinquency in the 1930s

       Understanding the development of the juvenile justice system in the first half of this century is essential to understanding attitudes toward female delinquency. Journal articles from the 1930s and 1940s give further insights into academic opinion on the subject.
       "Cultivating a Wild Rose," published in a 1930 University of Pennsylvania journal, reveals one woman's thoughts about the problem of waywardness. In her article, Marion Braungard, a Philadelphia social worker, relates the story of an 18 year old girl named Rose. Being unable to tolerate Rose's waywardness, the girl's parents brought her to the University of Pennsylvania Psychological Clinic where Braungard worked. After an initial psychiatric evaluation, a doctor diagnosed Rose as a "psychopathic inferior" who had "much more extensive experiences than her family had suspected" (p. 285). The doctor recommended an intensive counseling program, which Rose abandoned after the first several meetings.
       Shortly thereafter, Rose ran away from home for three days. She finally returned in the middle of the night in the company of a woman "connected with a house of ill fame." (p. 285) Relations at home deteriorated and Rose returned to the clinic for counseling, but then dropped out again. A year after the first encounter with Rose, Braungard learned that a court committed Rose to the Sleighton Farm reformatory school. After serving her sentence, Rose visited the clinic to "renew her acquaintance" with Braungard.
       Throughout the article, Braungard gave her subjective observations and opinions. She said she felt sorry for the wayward girls and their families, but supported the prevailing theory that waywardness and immorality are a psychological deficiency. She said, "[of the] cases which come to the Psychological Clinic, I have come to expect that when there is a limited moral stamina, the essential character of the girls is not apt to be altered" (p. 283). Braungard stated that the ideal outcome for wayward girls was to "adjust themselves inconspicuously in society" (p. 283). This shows that in 1930, a girl or woman was thought to be socially acceptable only if she conformed to the stereotype of extreme femininity, i.e. being inconspicuous. Braungard reflected these values in other statements as well. When she learned that a judge had committed Rose to a Sleighton Farm, Braungard lamented that Rose's "non-conformity . . . brought her into sufficient conflict with society to distinguish her from the normal group" (p. 288).
       Braungard described the chain of events leading to Rose's confinement:
       "[Rose] had been lax in her relations with men to such an extent that the family could no longer ignore the situation. Gossip in her neighborhood assigned her the responsibility for the venereal infection of several boys in the neighborhood. She denied the accusation and offered to go to court for an examination to prove that she was not infected herself. The test results were negative, but her attitude and manner were so unbearably arrogant and bold, that the family requested that she be committed to Sleighton Farm as a possible means of bringing her to her senses" (p. 288).
       In the last two pages of her article, Braungard praised Sleighton Farm for bringing about a change in Rose's character. Braungard said, "Sleighton Farm played the part of the proverbial darkest hour which precedes the dawn" (p. 288). Braungard explained that the story had a happy ending because the family moved to a new town, where Rose didn't have a bad reputation. She concluded her report by saying, "Three months have passed and Rose's conduct has been entirely satisfactory to her family, and she in turn is reasonably in accord with them. Let us touch wood!" (p. 290).
       Braungard's article gives direct evidence that society truly embraced the idea of reform schools for female status offenders. Although she did not write the article for the purpose of endorsing or propagating the system, it clearly served that purpose. It is difficult to estimate how many people read this specific article when it was published, but it nonetheless demonstrates the prevailing notions about girl delinquents.
       The only inconsistent factor in the article was one statement by the psychiatrist who originally evaluated Rose as a psychopathic inferior. He said the girl's family had been too strict with her and recommended that they give Rose more freedom, especially in her relations with men. The family failed to do this, however, as they observed Rose's waywardness progress. Braungard mentioned the doctor's comments in the beginning, but never placed any further responsibility on the parents. It is unlikely that anyone remembered the doctor's comments when the girl's parents took Rose before a judge to have her committed to the reform school.
       In this regard, Chesney-Lind said, "Juvenile justice workers rarely reflected on the broader nature of female misbehavior or on the sources of this misbehavior. It was enough for them that girls' parents reported them out of control" (1989, p. 17).

More of the Same in the 1940s

       The next decade showed little change in the treatment of female delinquents. Two articles from the era (Castendyck & Robison, 1943; Harris, 1944) demonstrate a growing concern over the problem of female juvenile delinquency. Again, the main focus of female delinquency was sexual promiscuity, referred to as sex offenses and ungovernable behavior. (Generally, sex offenses include prostitution, which is a more serious crime; ungovernable behavior can be interpreted as general sexual promiscuity.)
       One article, "Delinquency in Adolescent Girls," was written by a man, Dale B. Harris. He cited statistics about the rise in female delinquency, saying there had been a 100% increase in sex delinquencies among minor girls in a two year period (p. 596). The other article, "Juvenile Delinquency Among Girls," written by two women, Castendyck and Robison, acknowledged that there had been much publicity about a rise in female delinquency, including "items and articles in the daily press and popular magazines of today; in the reports of studies, investigations, and recommendations for programs appearing in scientific and professional literature; and in the requests for information and advice received almost daily by the Children's Bureau from individuals and community groups" (p. 253).
       Harris offered possible reasons for the increase in female delinquency: "social change in general and relaxation of sex mores in particular" (p. 597). He especially noted women's move into the work force as a cause of sexual promiscuity, especially night shifts and "morally hazardous" jobs that "offer the opportunity for casual sex," i.e. waitresses, domestic workers, and hotel maids. As he noticed, "on every hand one encounters girls of less maturity and social experience in jobs that offer opportunities for casual sex contacts" (p. 598).
       He listed other factors affecting female delinquency: mobility of families and young people; lessening of "attention, supervision, and control given to children and youth"; general war-time insecurity, and in a tip of his hat to Freud, "strong recrudescence of primitive impulses in war" (p. 601). Like many of his contemporaries, Harris believed that there was an increase in female delinquency and that it was "a true indication of the stress" in World War II society (p. 601).
       The article by Castendyck and Robison challenged then-standard female delinquency theories. They reviewed the popular list of reasons for a rise in female promiscuity—citing the exact same things as Harris—but then added their own explanations for the increase. They proposed that the public outcry about female delinquency was responsible for increased arrests. They believed that public opinion had influenced the policies of the police and court system.
       They said the statistics "clearly indicate that communities are more concerned about the behavior of girls now than they were before the war." But they stated further, "Unfortunately, what the statistics do not reveal is whether there is more reason for the concern" (p. 260). They pointed out that statistics were not a real measure of the incidence of deviant behavior, but only an indication of an increase in arrests and sentencing. They asserted that public opinion had changed due to "the removal of some of the taboos of the past" which had allowed society to "meet [promiscuity] more realistically than was the case 25 years ago" (p. 262). In other words, Castendyck and Robison believed that there may not have been an actual increase in female sex offenses, only an increase in the number of cases reported and prosecuted.
       From these two articles, it is evident that there was a lot of concern about female delinquency. For whatever reasons, girls were tried and sentenced for their sexual behavior in greater numbers during World War II. Castendyck and Robison suggested that the increase resulted from more strict enforcement of the laws. This supports the theory that female delinquents are over-represented in court populations.

Contemporary Thought

       In the 1940s, some sociologists and criminologists tried to prove that World War II caused an increase in female delinquency. In the 1960s, various studies tried to prove that the Women's Movement caused an increase in female delinquency (Alder, 1975; Simon, 1975; cited in Cernkovich, 1979). In the 1970s and 1980s working mothers were blamed for an increase in their daughters' (but not their sons') delinquency (Chesney-Lind, 1989). Further research and statistical evidence, however, has discredited these notions.
       While sexual conduct was seen as just cause for imprisonment of girls through the first half of the century, the 1960s and 1970s brought a change in attitude. A textbook on juvenile delinquency (Caven & Ferdinand, 1975) said, "With the sexual revolution and the liberation of women, much sex behavior that was previously regarded as morally blameworthy and legally culpable is today viewed at most as questionable" (p. 157). The textbook explained that intercourse between unmarried juveniles is still against the law if the girl is below the age of consent. There are other sex violations that are also illegal, such as rape and prostitution.
       According to the textbooks and popular opinion, it appears that there was a change of attitude toward status offenses in the early 1970s. In fact, in 1974, a law was passed to decriminalize status offenses. Commonly known as the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, it encouraged public facilities to discharge status offenders not charged with other, more serious crimes. For eight years following the enactment of the law, incarceration of girls in training schools and detention centers fell dramatically, as did convictions of new offenders.
       However, this period was followed by a period of get tough policies that resulted in increased arrests and convictions of female status offenders (Chesney-Lind, 1988a). Judges and police officers, especially, spoke out against the laws, claiming that juveniles would now be free to run away from home, miss school, and disobey their parents and the courts. Judges also found ways to circumvent the new law by issuing criminal contempt citations to elevate non-criminal offenders into law violators. Violation of probation was another way to make a status offense appear as a more serious crime. A youth on probation could be put back in juvenile hall simply by a phone call from the parents to the probation officer.
       In 1974 the federal government implemented the deinstitutionalization laws to reduce the number of non-criminal juveniles in the nation's detention facilities. Starting at the time the bill was passed, resistance from judges and others in law enforcement was evident. The latest attack on the deinstitutionalization laws came in 1986 with the concern about missing and exploited children. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1986, cited in Chesney-Lind) recommended that "Congress should amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to ensure that each state juvenile justice system has the legal authority, where necessary and appropriate, to take into custody and safely control runaway and homeless children."
       Most states have resumed the practice of arresting juveniles for status offenses, even though the 1974 law was never modified. The return to pre-1974 statistics for status offenses, has also meant a return to disproportionately higher arrests of female status offenders. Chesney-Lind argues that as a result of the 1974 law, "there may be some evidence in some parts of the country that girls are receiving more equal treatment [but], it is still likely that they are being placed in training schools for less serious offenses than their male counterparts" (Chesney-Lind, 1988a, p. 154).
       Chesney-Lind criticizes the juvenile justice system and its attempt to reform itself by saying,
       "It does not take great wit and keen foresight to conclude that those who oppose deinstitutionalization are mounting a strong effort to divert federal attention away from status offenders . . . Judicial sexism has haunted the juvenile justice system since its inception and has survived despite the substantial, though indirect, attempts at reform represented by the Juvenile Justice Act of 1974" (1988a, p. 160).
       Chesney-Lind criticizes the juvenile justice system, saying, "What may be at stake in efforts to roll back deinstitutionalization efforts is not so much 'protection' of youth as it is curbing the right of young women to defy patriarchy (1989, p. 26).

Conclusions, Suggestions, Opinions

       I agree with Chesney-Lind and think her research is a valuable contribution to the feminist movement. Just making people aware of the unequal treatment of girls is important work. People who aren't involved in counseling services or in the juvenile justice system probably think girls are no longer jailed for their sexual behavior. But studies by authors like Chesney-Lind prove it is still quite common.
       In addition, while studies suggest that most female status offenders come from abusive homes, girls' complaints about their homes have been routinely ignored. Chesney-Lind therefore recommends that more research is needed into the backgrounds of the girls convicted of status offenses. She said, "Time must be spent listening to girls" (1989, p. 25). She accuses the juvenile justice system of criminalizing girls' survival strategies (1989, p. 24). Chesney-Lind also mentioned a need for more research on the reaction of official agencies to girls' delinquency. Although difficult to quantify, she insists this data is necessary to develop a delinquency theory that is sensitive to gender as well as race and class.
       Chesney-Lind opposes the juvenile justice system and fears that, unchecked, it could return to 1930s-style repression. Chesney-Lind said, "Unless women's groups begin monitoring their juvenile courts to prevent further erosion of the victories of the [1974] deinstitutionalization movement, the world is likely to see, once again, the jailing of large numbers of young women 'for their own protection' " (1988a, p. 160).
       I think imprisoning girls for truancy and sexual deviance seems a simplistic, brutal way to deal with the "Woman Question." During the Industrial Age, the market economy supplanted women's vital role as homemaker. Women's identity and purpose became a subject of debate, which is still referred to as the woman question. To answer the woman question, romanticists idealized them as homemakers (with little to do) and spurned them as temptresses. When young women fell into the role of temptress, the juvenile justice system was formed to usher them into detention camps until they realized the wrong of their ways. It is frightening to realize that remnants of this system still exist today.
       I also think it is unfair to cast all the blame for sex offenses on women. Most sex offenses involve a man and a woman; a boy and a girl, or a man and a girl. It seems unfair that sexual behavior is condoned or ignored in boys, but condemned in girls. Learning about this subject has been interesting and frustrating at the same time. There are many aspects of the problem I have not mentioned in this paper. In the future I would like to study the issue of female delinquency in more depth.


Braungard, Marion. (1930). Cultivating a Wild Rose. The Psychological Clinic, Vol. 28, 282-290.
Canter, Rachelle, J. (1982). Sex Differences in Self-Report Delinquency. Criminology, Vol. 20, 273-393.
Castendyck, E. & Robison, S. (1943). Juvenile Delinquency Among Girls. The Social Service Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, 253-264.
Cavan, R.S. & Ferdinand, T.N. (1975). Juvenile Delinquency (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co.
Cernkovich, S.A. & Giordano, P.C. (1979). A Comparative Analysis of Male and Female Delinquency. The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 20, 123-128.
Chesney-Lind, M. (1988a). Girls and Status Offenses: Is Juvenile Justice Still Sexist? Criminal Justice Abstracts, Vol. 20, 144-165.
Chesney-Lind, M. (1988b). Girls in Jail. Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 34, No. 2, 150-164.
Chesney-Lind, M. (1989). Girls' Crime and Woman's Place: Toward a Feminist Model of Female Delinquency. Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 35, No. 1, 5-29.
Farber, E. & Knast, C. (1984). Violence in Families of Adolescent Runaways. Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 8, 295-299.
Figueira-McDonough, Josefina. (1985). Are Girls Different? Gender Discrepencies Between Delinquent Behavior and Control. Child Welfare, Vol. 64, 273-289.
Harris, D.B. (1944). Delinquency in Adolescent Girls. Mental Hygiene, Vol. 28, 596-601.
Martin, D. (1988). A Review of the Popular LIterature on Co-dependency. Contemporary Drug Problems, Vol. 15, No. 3, 383-389.
Phelps, R.J., et al. (1982). Wisconsin Female Juvenile Offender Study Project Summary Report. Wisconsin: Youth Policy and Law Center, Wisconsin Council on Juvenile Justice.
Rogers, D. (1962). The Psychology of Adolescence. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Rosenbaum, J.L. (1989). Family Dysfunction and Female Delinquency. Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 35, No. 1, 31-44.
Shelden, R.G., Horvath, J.A., & Tracy, S. (1989). Do Status Offenders Get Worse? Some Clarifications on the Question of Escalation. Crime & Delinquency, Vol. 35, No. 2, 202-216.
Teilmann, Katherine, S. & Landry, Pierre Jr. (1981). Gender Bias in Juvenile Justice. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 18, 47-80.
Windle, M. (1989) Substance Use and Abuse Among Adolescent Runaways: A Four-Year Follow-Up Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 18, No. 4, 331-344.

Analysis of [Juvenile Correctional Facility]


       [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is a juvenile training school, part of the State's Close Custody Juvenile Corrections Program. Located in southeast [city], [the reform school] offers residential care for adolescents, aged 12 to 18, who have been adjudicated by the [State] juvenile court. Originally, [Juvenile Correctional Facility] was only for female delinquents, but it now accepts both boys and girls. [Juvenile Correctional Facility] only takes juveniles who have been convicted of a delinquent act, which if done by an adult, would constitute a crime. The typical violations of [Juvenile Correctional Facility] students include person-to-person crimes (such as assault or murder), drug offenses, sex offenses (child molestation or rape), theft, burglary, vehicle theft, and other index crimes. The school does not accept status offenders, if the status offense is the most serious offense. They do, however, take female parole violators. Therefore, the most recent precipitating incident for some of the girls may still be on the level of a status offense. It becomes a serious crime because it was committed while the girl was on parole.
       The population at [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is becoming more hard-core. This is because the school has a cap of 170 students. Cap refers to the maximum number of students they can take at a time. But since the school is always full, there is a waiting list. Thus, the the Closed Custody Review Board (CCRB) decides when to release less-delinquent students to make room for more seriously delinquent juveniles. This process assures that only the most seriously criminal students stay. The unit directors at [Juvenile Correctional Facility], the juveniles' respective parole officers, and ultimately [Juvenile Correctional Facility] Supervisor Mary E.E., all play a part in deciding who to release.

Facilities and Care at [Juvenile Correctional Facility]

       [Juvenile Correctional Facility] offers residential care, academic education, and therapeutic treatment. The therapeutic treatment focuses on juveniles' substance abuse, sexual abuse, and sex offender issues. Although the program does not claim to cure these problems, the stated goal is to give students the knowledge to make better life decisions. Previously, [Juvenile Correctional Facility] did not offer therapeutic treatment, but several qualified counselors and social workers have joined the [Juvenile Correctional Facility] staff within the last six years to develop treatment programs.
       [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is divided into three sections: the school, the administration, and the cottages. The school, located in a central building on the [Juvenile Correctional Facility] property, consists of a principal, teachers, and teacher's aides. The juveniles are in school four days a week, from morning until three o'clock. The rest of the time they participate in activities or group meetings in their cottages, or work in various jobs on campus. The school recently acquired several computers through a grant, and thus now offers computer training to some students.
       The administration, located in a building close to the entrance of the campus, includes clerical and reception staff, the superintendent and her staff, parole officers, two chaplains, a minority advocate, a sex offender treatment counselor and his assistant, and a drug and alcohol counselor. The other [Juvenile Correctional Facility] departments are security, maintenance, recreation, and food services. The supervisor oversees all activities at [Juvenile Correctional Facility]; the supervisor and the whole school are under CSD, the [State] Children's Services Division.
       The nine cottages, each named for letters of the Latin alphabet, do not resemble cottages at all. They are actually wards in brick, prison-like buildings, with heavy, locked, metal doors. Since all the buildings are locked, staff and faculty must pick up their security keys at the beginning of each workday and turn them in when they leave. The [Juvenile Correctional Facility] resembles an ordinary campus, with the cottages playing the part of dormitories, where all the students live. The facility is not surrounded by a fence, so there are occasional runaways. Despite the runaway problem, the [State] wants the facility to maintain its school-like atmosphere, so they have never built fences or walls to make it more secure.
       The cottages, with approximately 17 juveniles in each, are managed by GLC staff, or Group Life Coordinators. The GLCs are divided into levels: GLC I, GLC II, GLC III, and so on. Levels one and two are essentially line staff, or union workers, who give Direct Care. Essentially, this means they play the part of parents for students under their care. GLC III and above are managers. A GLC III is usually called an assistant manager, a GLC IV is usually called a manager, and each cottage also has a counselor, or unit director, who handles casework and designs treatment programs. The unit director is technically called a GLC V, but the term GLC is not generally used to refer to managers or counselors.
       The nine cottages are divided by type of treatment plan, as follows: Delta and Omega have a program for boys that includes Guided Group Interaction (GGI), a treatment modality based on daily group meetings in a peer-culture milieu. Alpha (for boys) also uses GGI, with an emphasis on drug and alcohol treatment. Theta, primarily female parole violators, uses Reality Therapy as its treatment modality. Iota, the intake cottage for girls, uses the GGI process, with an emphasis on drug and alcohol treatment. Kappa and Sigma are the male sex offender wards, primarily geared toward younger boys. Zeta is the only co-educational cottage in the entire [State] closed custody system. The treatment modalities are milieu and individual counseling. Gamma is specifically for boys aged 12 to 15 who need ongoing treatment with feedback on social expectations. All the cottages have drug and alcohol groups and sex abuse groups.
       GGI, which is used in almost all the cottages, originated in the 1940s, post World War II era in America. The basis of GGI is to create a group atmosphere where each member helps the others work toward their rehabilitation goals (Kratcoski, 1989; Trotzer, 1989). It is a precursor to positive peer culture (PPC), where the peer group supports positive change. According to Kratcoski, "The key element of guided group interaction is the problem-solving activity that takes place in the group meetings" (p. 270).
       The cottages rely on institutional behavior modification to regulate the juveniles' day-to-day activities. For example, in the Kappa cottage, one of the two sex offender treatment programs, there is a public bulletin board in the day room listing all the students' names from top to bottom, and all the daily activities from left to right. If a boy successfully accomplishes a task or completes an activity, he gets a green dot next to his name. If he does a satisfactory job he gets a yellow dot; a red dot indicates unsatisfactory behavior. Boys with good records earn privileges and work their way through the program. Red dots result in lost privileges.
       Behavior modification is standard in most juvenile facilities, but it also has many critics. Some contend that it is little more than a tool to control behavior inside an institution, which has no lasting therapeutic value (Brown, Wienckowski, & Stolz, 1989).

The Journal

       My First Visit to [Juvenile Correctional Facility]
       The [Juvenile Correctional Facility] struck me as being very 1940-ish—naming the cottages after Latin letters (stylish during that era), using GGI and classic behavior modification (first used in that era), the buildings themselves (probably built around that time), and the idea of a reform school itself (which actually goes back further, to the 1920s). I had not heard anything in particular about [Juvenile Correctional Facility], but I worked in a juvenile hall once and I've had other experiences with institutions. I figured [Juvenile Correctional Facility] would be big and bureaucratic, with some unqualified staff, and lots of politics. I admit I projected these prejudicial ideas on [Juvenile Correctional Facility] before setting foot on the property.
       I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I met D.B., the sexual abuse treatment coordinator, because he did not seem like a stereotypic bureaucrat or heartless institutional worker. D.B. is a licensed social worker (LCSW), who graduated from Portland State University eight years ago. He is one of the people [Juvenile Correctional Facility] hired to develop therapeutic treatment. For the last six years D.B. has been developing the sexual abuse treatment program. His responsibilities include evaluation and diagnostic assessments of juveniles; statistical reporting; testifying to the legislature and in court; acting as a liaison with the community, other agencies, and institutions; and making referrals. He also teaches part-time at [a local] Community College and helped develop their sexual-abuse treatment curriculum.
       I also met S.F., a woman hired that month to assist D.B. She was also a non-bureaucratic, non-institutional, genuine human being. Before coming to [Juvenile Correctional Facility] she worked at the Women's Crisis Center in [City], in the State Hospital sex offender treatment program (Ward 41-B), and helped her husband run a small business. S.F. has a BA in psychology, but plans to pursue her master's degree in the field of counseling, criminal justice, or a related field.
       My first week at [Juvenile Correctional Facility] I helped S.F. set up the sexual abuse victim groups in the cottages. We went to each cottage to introduce ourselves and set a tentative schedule. We also screened students to find out who needed and wanted to be in the groups. S.F. had a special way of talking to the students. She seemed to be able to get right on their level and listen to what they said. The kids responded to her by revealing their thoughts, fears, and their desire to be involved in the groups.
       Once a few groups were set up, S.F. assigned two counselors to each group. D.B., S.F., myself, another practicum student, and one of the chaplains, Father Ted, were each assigned to facilitate or co-facilitate several groups. A facilitator leads the group and a co-facilitator works with the main facilitator to carry out the group process. I was assigned to be a co-facilitator in two victims' groups in Kappa cottage. D.B. and S.F. also asked me to do art therapy with the students, since I told them I was planning to write my thesis on art therapy. S.F. bought art supplies, but neither of us knew exactly when, where, or how art therapy would fit in.
       All and all I was happy to be at [Juvenile Correctional Facility], working with D.B. and S.F. They were helping me overcome my prejudicial image of [Juvenile Correctional Facility]. S.F. and I talked for several hours one day, telling each other our whole life stories. We also talked about [Juvenile Correctional Facility], juvenile delinquents, the system, politics, philosophy, and 12-step. She seemed to have a lot of compassion for distressed adolescents and chose to be in the field out of a genuine desire to help. I also had an hour-and-a-half talk with D.B. one day and I came out having a great respect for the work he is doing, too. Out of the huge jungle of bureaucracy and impersonalism I imagined the place to be, I was happy to have found two friends.

The First Group Meetings

       On my sixth visit to [Juvenile Correctional Facility], I was to go to Kappa cottage to co-facilitate my first victims' group. Before going to the cottage, however, I stopped in at the office to talk to S.F. She warned me that the woman who would lead the group, Miss B., was into power and control and might be hard to get along with. She said Miss B. is a GLC on the Kappa ward who had formed the groups herself by putting eight boys in one group and nine in the other. Since the cottage houses only male sex offenders, Miss B. had assumed that all the boys should be in a victims' group, without waiting for S.F. to screen anyone. S.F. told me she thought the groups were too large, adding that if Miss B. didn't do a good job, D.B. could replace her as group leader. S.F.'s warning about Miss B. made me apprehensive, but I was willing to give it a try. After the briefing I walked to Kappa cottage.
       My initial impression of Miss B. was a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the first thing that happened seemed to indicate that she was into power and control. Just when I got to the cottage the boys came back from school. One of them reported to Miss B. that another boy, Ted, had stabbed him in the leg with a pencil and broken the lead off under his skin. Miss B. reacted by yelling, "Ted! In your room right now!" The boy, Ted, threw a tantrum and had to be ushered to his room by another GLC. Once inside, Ted repeatedly banged the door with his fist. At this, Miss B. called security and a guard came to the cottage to subdue the boy and take him away. Miss B. told me this was called a QR, and when asked, explained that there is a Quiet Room in one of the other cottages where the boy would be held for the rest of the morning.
       I was shocked at the incident and felt sorry for the boy. In my Clinical Child and Youth Work class two nights before, we heard a lecture by Steve Young of the Waverly home for emotionally disturbed children. He spoke of a humanistic approach to dealing with rebellious adolescents, based on a philosophy of do no harm. This means that above all, the worker should not cause further damage to the child. Steve emphasized that staff members have an obligation to be respectful and compassionate toward the children under their care. He described the stages of temper tantrums and how to intervene at each stage. He said physical restraint was a last resort, since going through the temper tantrum with the child would help the child get in touch with his/her feelings. Waverly is based on a mental health model, whereas [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is based on a corrections model that is in transition to being a treatment model. The QR incident went against everything I had learned in school, but I tried remain detached. After all, I was a visitor and wanted to keep an open mind. Nevertheless, the incident revived my opinion of [Juvenile Correctional Facility] as an impersonal, monolithic institution with an unfeeling, power-and-control-motivated staff.
       When the QR was over, we started the victims' group meeting. The group was relatively large: eight juveniles, plus Miss B. and myself. It was only their second meeting, but since they already knew each other from being in the same cottage day after day, Miss B. dove right into some intense subjects. After having each boy tell me their names, she had each say what their victimization issues were. I felt uncomfortable listening to these painful incidents and I imagined the boys felt uncomfortable disclosing in front of a stranger.
       If a boy resisted Miss B.'s instructions to disclose, she tried to force him, saying things like, "We can't play these games with you. If you won't cooperate, maybe you should leave the meeting," and so on. I strongly objected to the way she was handling the boys because it seemed like they were afraid and she was trying to use intimidation to make them confess. I was getting angry because I thought she didn't understand how painful these abusive incidents must have been to the kids. It's not like talking about what you ate for lunch yesterday—the abuse issues are the most painful secrets these kids hold.
       During our third victims' group I couldn't sit still and listen to Miss B.'s coercive tactics any longer. I spoke up saying that I didn't think we should use force to make the kids talk. She tried to argue, but since we were right there in front of all the kids she acted like she would rather brush the whole confrontation aside. There definitely was a conflict, though, and she called me into her office after the meeting to explain why I was wrong and she was right. I repeated that I didn't think it was fair to force the kids to disclose. She finally said, "Okay, we both have different philosophies."
       When I told S.F. about the incident she assured me that she supported what I had done. She said she didn't like the way [Juvenile Correctional Facility] lets unqualified people lead groups and she was glad I spoke up. I knew S.F. would go along with what I did, or I probably would have been afraid to do it. I also knew D.B. wouldn't mind.
       When I went back to [Juvenile Correctional Facility] the next Thursday I didn't know what to expect, but hoped everything would be okay. I went to check in with D.B. and S.F. but walked straight into a meeting between D.B. and Miss B. They invited me to join them.
       D.B. started out by explaining that the theories I was learning in grad. school may be different from the institutional point of view. Miss B. said that my outburst the previous week had left some of the kids wondering who was right or wrong. I agreed that it must have been awkward, and apologized. Then I explained that the way I saw it, some of the kids were very open about disclosing their victim issues, while others were not ready. D.B. and Miss B. considered what I said and asked what I would do about it. I said I would like to do art therapy with several of the most reluctant kids to see if they could draw their feelings. After putting feelings down on paper, maybe they would be willing to talk about their drawings. I said I would like to take about three kids (each day, Thursday and Friday) and work with them in another room.
       I was so relieved when Miss B. agreed. I know I must be somewhat of a thorn in her side, to use an old cliché. But in an institution like [Juvenile Correctional Facility] it would be impossible to do anything unusual and not be a thorn in someone's side. Since the meeting I have gotten to know Miss B. a little better and I've realized we can get along okay. Besides, I'm grateful that she agreed to let me do art therapy in her cottage.
       Thus far I have done two art therapy groups, but only one boy was available for the last session. (Miss B. had not yet decided who should be in the Friday art group, so I only got one boy last Friday.) I think art is a good way for these adolescents to communicate their feelings. I have learned so much about each boy simply by asking them to draw a picture. For example, one boy, who has a violent family history, drew a picture of a battleship on a bloody ocean, with black storm clouds and lightning. Another boy portrayed an optimistic attitude when he drew a picture of himself winning first place in a car race. He said it was a picture of his future. Both boys were very proud of their drawings; the boy who drew the battleship apparently has more serious problems he needs to work out.
       I am planning to continue at [Juvenile Correctional Facility], at least with these two groups, for the time being. I am grateful to Miss B. for trying to be open minded. Without her cooperation I would have been forced to start all over in a new cottage. I want to continue working with these kids because I've already started getting to know them. I am also grateful to S.F. and D.B. for their support.


       Out of curiosity I talked further with D.B. about [Juvenile Correctional Facility]'s sexual abuse treatment policies. I asked him why Miss B. was leading groups if (as S.F. said) she wasn't qualified. He said Miss B. is a GLC II, and while GLCs are not supposed to be treatment-, or therapy-oriented employees, Miss B. is a counselor-in-training. As such, she is allowed to lead groups, and has been doing so for three years. D.B. said she needed more training, but since she was enthusiastic about leading groups, and a dedicated employee of six years, he wanted to let her get group experience.
       I asked him to explain the circumstances around how Miss B. started the group and why I got involved. He said, "I believe they [Miss B. and other Kappa GLCs] got ahead of themselves and just went ahead with [the groups], instead of saying, 'Wait, hold on, we need somebody.' And that's a real common thing to happen in institutions" (Bucklin & Muster, 1990). In other words, when he and S.F. were in the process of starting the sexual abuse treatment groups, Miss B. got impatient and set up the Kappa groups herself without waiting for the higher-ups to do their job. But D.B. said he "let himself get sucked into the idea" that he needed to respond right away. Since I was available, he sent me over to help Miss B. He didn't tell her much about me or explain fully what I was to do. He said he wishes he had introduced us and explained all that, because it could have prevented some of the misunderstandings that occurred. But I don't know that it would have helped much, because I still would have spoken up in the group if I saw something I didn't think was fair.
       I asked D.B. what his responsibility is to make sure the group leaders are qualified. He said that since Miss B. is a counselor-in-training she can lead groups or start groups as she sees necessary. His responsibility is to investigate complaints or problems, and make any necessary changes. As far as I can tell, he did a good job of carrying out this function. He stepped right in and mediated the matter with Miss B. and me. He said he doesn't like to take sides, saying one person is right and the other is wrong, since they ultimately have to get along and work together. I agree, because I tend not to see situations as black and white, either. I generally believe that both parties in an argument are partly right.
       I asked him why S.F. and Miss B. have different views about how to run a victims' group, and why there is no specific treatment plan that all the counselors can follow. He explained that Miss B.'s method may not be perfect, but it is similar to the treatment model that adult correctional institutions use. The adult offender model encourages forced disclosure, or what D.B. called the owning up model. The idea is that the offender must acknowledge and take responsibility for his sexual crimes, even if he has to be forced to do so. But D.B. said that he objects to this approach for treating teenagers because they have other problems like substance abuse, various DSM-III diagnoses, and just the fact they are teenagers.
       I asked him what he thinks of forced disclosure. He said he feels uneasy with the method, because it's like re-victimizing the kids—forcing them to relive the abuse as they talk about it in groups. He said he struggles with the re-victimization issue constantly, but because it is widely used and accepted in institutions, many counselors use it with the [Juvenile Correctional Facility] students.
       D.B. said he justifies the force method in his own mind because [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is one of the last stops for teenage sex offenders. Thus, the kids are there because gentler methods haven't worked. However, D.B. also admits that if there were more community resources available, such as group homes, many of the sex offenders would not need to be in [Juvenile Correctional Facility].
       He said the reason there is no specific treatment plan for [Juvenile Correctional Facility] students is that he still hasn't found a method developed specifically for adolescents. In other words, the [Juvenile Correctional Facility] sexual abuse treatment program is in transition. There is a 500-page treatment manual, which D.B. compiled from relevant literature, but it is no longer used. He originally wrote it as a resource for counselors when the sexual abuse program was based on a psycho-educational model. Now that the program is more treatment oriented, counselors have to make up discussion topics and activities as they go along. I think this places an unreasonable burden on line staff, who may not have a background in counseling techniques. I feel that if someone provided the staff with an easy-to-follow, structured plan, it would substantially raise the level of therapy for all [Juvenile Correctional Facility] students.
       Next quarter, when I start my field study, I am going to ask D.B. if I can work with him to develop such a treatment plan. This will require extensive research, but I have done a preliminary literature search at the library. Without completing the research, it is hard to say what the scope of the program would be. However, if the program were to include art therapy, I would use some of the following techniques.
       The first week I would have students do a spontaneous drawing and then share it with the group. I would also do a genogram and ask each student to explain the basic relationships in his family. A genogram is similar to a family tree, but is used for assessment purposes. It shows the client's family members, drafted out in chart form (McGoldrick & Gerson, 1985). The second week I would talk about anger and have the students draw a picture that expresses their anger. Then we would talk about the drawings and talk about anger in general. Then, if the students felt ready, I would ask them to disclose more details about their abuse and/or sex offenses by identifying the details on their genograms from the previous week.
       I realize that disclosure is important, but I would not ask the students to disclose before they are ready. To this end, the first few meetings might concentrate on building a safe atmosphere in the group.

An Alternative Treatment Program

       On Nov. 21, Eric Lichtenthaler of the Morrison Center spoke in one of my classes. He leads the Responsible Adolescent and Parent Program, a sex offender treatment program in Portland, Oregon. This is an outpatient program that treats adjudicated adolescents who have been convicted of sex offenses. Morrison Center usually gets their clients as a condition of parole, but they only accept juveniles if their family is willing to participate in treatment. They use a systemic treatment program, which means they treat the whole family instead of just the offender.
       I told Eric what I had seen at [Juvenile Correctional Facility] and asked him if he ever forces his clients to disclose. He said that since the goal is to get the sex offender to take responsibility for his behavior, disclosure is an important element in the treatment. However, he emphasized that it can be a form of violence to force the offender to disclose before he's ready. He said, "Violence is forcing someone to do something they don't want to do," and, "Forced change violates boundaries and is offensive." He said that all disclosure must be done in an atmosphere of trust. Thus, his program focuses on Joining" and "Readiness." Joining refers to the process of making each client feel like part of the group. Readiness means creating a sense of trust and security.
       I asked Eric if I could sit in on some of his meetings in December, after finals. He said he would be glad to have me visit and even mentioned that they will be looking for practicum students in January. I can't wait to see what they do at the Morrison Center. I may even decide to do my field study there, instead of [Juvenile Correctional Facility]. They treat the same population—juvenile delinquents—and even get clients who have just come out of [Juvenile Correctional Facility]. I may decide to stay at [Juvenile Correctional Facility], but I am anxious to see what a more functional, more therapeutic program is like. I am glad I met Eric Lichtenthaler and had a chance to hear him speak.


       My experience so far has confirmed my original, prejudicial expectation: [Juvenile Correctional Facility] is a somewhat dysfunctional place where kids don't get the best therapeutic treatment. It's unfortunate I see it like that, but I'm not out to change the whole system. The best I can do is try to keep an objective view and not let it mesmerize me into complacency.
       D.B. is the person responsible for the way sex offender treatment is carried out. Unfortunately, he has little or no influence on budget and personnel decisions. D.B. can make suggestions and try to intervene when there's a problem, but that's not the same as a cure. Getting qualified personnel is his biggest complaint, and with recent constrictions on the State budget, it doesn't look like there's any relief in sight.
       On the other hand, Morrison Center supports itself through public and private grants, as well as third-party payments (insurance). Also, it is privately owned and operated. Therefore, the directors can hire whomever they want and run the program any way they want to run it. They have chosen to begin their treatment process with a period of joining and readiness. In my opinion, such a foundation is sure to bring more positive and lasting results.
       While there is little I can do about [Juvenile Correctional Facility], I am glad to have the opportunity to observe it. I ultimately want to work with adolescents, especially juvenile delinquents, so I have to be aware of what it is like for them when they are incarcerated in places like [Juvenile Correctional Facility]. I also think it will be valuable for me to find out more about the Morrison Program. That way I can compare institutional and non-institutional treatment and have a better perspective on the whole field.


Bucklin, D.A. & Muster, N.J. (1990). Taped interview (audio cassette). Salem, OR: unpublished.
Kratcoski, P.C. (1989). Group counseling in corrections. In P.C. Kratcoski (Ed.), Correctional counseling and treatment, 2nd ed. (pp. 269-276). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
Brown, B.S., Wienckowski, L.A., & Stolz, S.B. (1989). Behavior modification: Perspective on a current issue. In P.C. Kratcoski (Ed.), Correctional counseling and treatment, 2nd ed. (pp. 200-244). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
McGoldrick, M. & Gerson, R. (1985). Genograms in family assessment. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Trotzer, J.P. (1989). The process of group counseling. In P.C. Kratcoski (Ed.), Correctional counseling and treatment, 2nd ed. (pp. 277-303). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

The Impact of Family Violence on Shaping Delinquent Behavior

The Connection

       Assassins such as Arthur Bremer, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray, Lee Harvey Oswald, and John Wilkes Booth were all products of abusive households (Thornton, Voigt, & Doerner, 1987). Many professionals agree that family violence can have lasting effects on an individual, ranging from general insecurity to severe criminal disorders (for example, Gelles & Cornell, 1985; Straus, 1988; Thornton et al.). Family violence comes in many forms—violence between adults in the household, adults' physical or sexual abuse toward children, and even children's abuse of adults. In this review, I attempt to compile information specifically about the causal relationship between adult-to-child violence and the child's later juvenile delinquency.
       The cycle of family violence to juvenile delinquency has been the subject of much empirical research, especially over the last decade. Despite the research and despite the opinions of professionals in the field who believe there is a connection, scholars are reluctant to declare any definitive link between family violence and juvenile delinquency (Thornton et al.; Koski, 1988).
       Even though there is no clinical diagnosis for a juvenile-victim personality disorder, research shows that significant numbers of juvenile offenders are victims first, before they become criminals (Burgess, Hartman, McCormack, and Grant, 1988; Farber, Kinast, McCoard, and Falkner, 1984; Paperny and Deisher, 1983; Rosenbaum, 1989). One study (Lewis, Pincus, Lovely, Spitzer, & Moy, 1987) even goes so far as to suggest adding a new category to the DSM-III-R to describe individuals who fit the victim-to-victimizer syndrome.
       To gather data for this theory, some researchers analyzed individual delinquents (Burgess et al.; Wallerstein & Blakeslee,1988), while others studied populations of inmates in juvenile institutions (Farber et al.; Lewis et al.; Rosenbaum). One group of researchers (Dembo, Dertke et al., 1988; Dembo, Washburn et al., 1987; Dembo, Williams et al., 1988; Dembo, Williams et al., 1989) studied inmates at juvenile detention centers to see if family violence had an effect on inmates' drug use. Other researchers have focused on family violence leading to violent crimes (Paperny and Deisher) and runaway (Farber and Kinast; Rosenbaum). Some authors present an overview of the problem in their writing by incorporating information from many sources (Gelles & Cornell; Straus; Thornton et al.; Wallerstein & Blakeslee).
       The earliest study I could locate was a definitive report (Carr, 1977) analyzing juveniles in New York state, submitted to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Also at that time, the University of Washington held a symposium on child abuse and its influence on juvenile delinquency. The symposium was called, "Exploring the Relationship Between Child Abuse and Delinquency." I was unable to locate a paper from that symposium called, "Report on the Relationship Between Child Abuse and Neglect and Later Socially Deviant Behavior," by Alfaro. But I did find a book with the same name as the symposium (Hunner & Walker, 1981), containing a chapter by Alfaro bearing the same name as the paper he presented at the symposium. The book contains 19 articles linking family violence to delinquent behavior. The associate chief of the Children's Bureau, Office of Child Development, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare wrote the book's foreword. By his account, the government department had been debating this issue since 1970. The book's editors made no mention of the University of Washington symposium, but I suspect that many of the 19 articles came from the symposium.
       Although some scholars are reluctant to declare a causal relationship between family violence and later delinquent behavior, it seems there is already substantial data available on the subject. As one professional in the field (Jensen, 1990) said, "We have to see the [delinquent] as a victim. Until we, as professionals, stop treating the symptoms and start looking behind the scenes and saying, 'What is going on in this family?', we can't do a good job."
       Even if the research is not one hundred percent conclusive, I believe juvenile delinquency can be reduced by addressing the problem of family violence. Researchers at Utah State University (Lee & Goddard, 1989) are working on a family education program that may be helpful in this regard. The program, called Family Connections, is based on two principles. First, it teaches families to recognize their strengths and become responsible for their own well-being. Second, it teaches them to develop communication skills they do not already have. Overall, the program is designed to reinforce each family member's sense of worth and happiness. While educational programs like Family Connections are only in the experimental stages, this could prove a viable approach to breaking the cycle of family violence to delinquency.


Burgess, A.W., Hartman, C.R., McCormack, A. & Grant, C.A. (1988). Child victim to juvenile victimizer: Treatment implications. International Journal of Family Psychiatry, Vol. 9, No. 4, 403-416.
Carr, A. (1977). Final report on analysis of child maltreatment—juvenile misconduct association in eight New York counties. Report to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Office of Human Development Services, Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Eric document ED 180 157.
Dembo, R.M., Dertke, M., Williams, L., Wish, E.D., Berry, E., Getreu, A., Washburn, M., & Schmeidler, J. (1988). The relationship between physical and sexual abuse and illicit drug use: A replication among a new sample of youths entering a juvenile detention center. International Journal of the Addictions, Vol. 23, No. 4, 351-378.
Dembo, R.M., Washburn, M., Wish, E.D., Schmeidler, J., Getreu, A., Berry, E., Williams, L. & Blount, W.R. (1987). Further examination of the association between heavy marijuana use and crime among youths entering a juvenile detention center. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol. 19, No. 4, 361-373.
Dembo, R.M., Williams, L, Berry, E., Getreu, A., Wish, E.D., Dertke, M, & Schmeidler, J. (1988). The relationship between physical and sexual abuse and illicit drug use: A replication among a new sample of youths entering a juvenile detention center. International Journal of the Addictions, Vol 23, No. 11, 1101-1123.
Dembo, R.M., Williams, L., La Voie, L., Berry, E., Getreu, A., Wish, E.D., Schmeidler, J., & Washburn, M. (1989). Physical abuse, sexual victimization, and illicit drug use: Replication of a structural analysis among a new sample of high-risk youths. Violence and Victims, Vol. 4, No. 2, 121-138.
Farber, E.D., Kinast, C., McCoard, W.D., & Falkner, D. (1984). Violence in families of adolescent runaways. Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 8, 295-299.
Gelles, R.J. & Cornell, C.P. (1985). Intimate violence in families. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Hunner, R.J. & Walker, Y.E. (1981). Exploring the relationship between child abuse and delinquency. Montclair, NJ: Allanheld, Osman.
Jensen, D. (Interviewee). (1990). Taped telephone interview between Donna Jensen and Nori Muster. Salem, OR. (Unpublished).
Koski, P.R. (1988). Family violence and nonfamily deviance: Taking stock of the literature. Marriage and Family Review, Vol. 12, No. 1-2, 23-46.
Lee, T.R. & Goddard, H.W. (1989). Developing family relationship skills to prevent substance abuse among high-risk youth. Family Relations, Vol. 38, 301-305.
Lewis, D.O., Pincus, J.H., Lovely, R., Spitzer, E., & Moy, E. (1987). Biopsychosocial characteristics of matched samples of delinquents and nondelinquents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 26, No. 5, 744-752.
Paperny, D., & Deisher, R.W. (1983). Maltreatment of adolescents: The relationship to a predisposition toward violent behavior and delinquency. Adolescence, Vol. 18, No. 71, 499-506.
Rosenbaum, J.L. (1989). Family dysfunction and female delinquency. Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 35, No. 1, 31-44.
Straus, M.B. (1988). Abuse and victimization across the life span. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.
Thornton, W.E., Voigt, L, & Doerner, W.G. (1987). Delinquency and justice. New York: Random House.
Wallerstein, J.S. & Blakeslee, S. (1988). Second chances: Men, women, and children a decade after divorce. New York: Ticknor & Fields.

Legal and Social Implications of Childhood Abuse and Delinquency

The Connection

       Does child abuse lead to juvenile delinquency? At the age of 17, Dalton Prejean killed a policeman in Louisiana. Many people, including civil rights groups and opponents of capital punishment, believed that Prejean was a victim and not just a victimizer. They believed Prejean deserved another chance because his history of child abuse was not disclosed in his original trial. Prejean's supporters believed that the punishment would have been lighter had the original jury known about Prejean's history of abuse.
       Appeal after appeal—including two stays of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court—delayed Prejean's death for more than a decade. In fact, earlier this year, a pardon board asked the Louisiana governor to spare Prejean's life. The board based their recommendation on the fact that Prejean was a minor and that he suffered from neurological damage, resulting from extreme abuse. Without the governor's pardon, Prejean died in the electric chair this week (May 18, 1990). Public opinion was against Prejean. Besides, there was no question—Prejean committed two separate murders, the last one in 1977.
       The debate of whether or not Prejean deserved to die will never be settled, but it is certain Prejean's position as a victim-turned-victimizer is not unique. Many young people live out a similar cycle of violence that inevitably leads to the juvenile justice system. The purpose of this report is to examine the connection between child abuse and later delinquency. Many researchers have already gathered data in this area, while others have advocated ways to put this theory into practice in the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency.

Governmental and Academic Policy-Making

       During the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare spent a great deal of time considering the problem. One researcher (Carr, 1977) compiled a definitive report for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, part of the Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Office of Human Development Services, which is a division of the Department of Health Education and Welfare. Carr's report analyzes the connection between child abuse and neglect and later juvenile misconduct. She studied abused and neglected juveniles in three New York counties, counting how many subsequent contacts they had with corrections agencies after first being reported for maltreatment. She found that 56 percent of children reported maltreated had at least a second contact with the child protection or juvenile justice agencies. Of those, at least 35 percent had a third contact. Some of the children were not old enough to be considered juvenile offenders, even by their third contact, but over all, 41 percent were later reported as juvenile offenders.
       Carr explains that children are reported as maltreated or delinquent according to their age. If they are below the age limit they will be classified as maltreated; once they have reached a certain age they will confront the juvenile court, even though the nature of their situation may be the same in both contacts.
       Carr mentions that the study is limited in another aspect, since it only analyzes children with multiple agency contacts. This leaves out unreported cases of maltreated children who later become delinquent. It also leaves out those children who were reported for maltreatment, later committed delinquent acts, but were not caught.
       Carr's overall conclusion is that the pivotal point for turning the tide of a child's growth and development is the time of the first agency contact. She explains that the progression from child abuse/ neglect to later juvenile delinquency is a statistical fact. Thus, if the government wants to help, that help should come at the pivotal point of the first agency contact.
       The same year as Carr's report, the University of Washington held a symposium on child abuse and its influence on juvenile delinquency. The symposium was called, "Exploring the Relationship Between Child Abuse and Delinquency." I was unable to locate a paper from that symposium called, "Report on the Relationship Between Child Abuse and Neglect and Later Socially Deviant Behavior," by Alfaro. But I did find a book with the same name as the symposium (Hunner & Walker, 1981), containing a chapter by Alfaro bearing the same name as the paper he presented at the symposium. The book contains 19 articles linking family violence to delinquent behavior. Although the book's editors made no mention of the University of Washington symposium, I suspect that many of the 19 articles came from the symposium.
       Also, the associate chief of the Children's Bureau, Office of Child Development, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, wrote the book's foreword. This could point to a connection between the Washington State University symposium and the concern for the subject inside the government department. In all, the subject of maltreatment to juvenile delinquency was an important issue for both scholars and policy makers in the late 1970s. Some of the articles included in the book are: "Policy and Program Implications in the Child Delinquency Correlation"; "National Policies on Child Abuse and Delinquency: Convergence or Divergence?"; "Treatment of Abusing Parents: An Alternative Method of Delinquency Control," and so on.

Progress Report

       Research shows that significant numbers of juvenile offenders are victims first, before they become criminals (Burgess et al.; Farber et al.; Paperny and Deisher; Rosenbaum). Even though there has been extensive research in this area—up to and including government agency recommendations—little has been done to treat juvenile offenders as victims of parental abuse. Authorities at detention facilities rarely question juveniles about their home situation. In fact, the home situation isn't considered in making a diagnosis, since there is no clinical diagnosis for a juvenile-victim personality disorder in the DSM-III-R. It would be a significant innovation if there were a clinical diagnosis for the category of victim-turned-offender, since public and private funding is contingent on having a DSM-III-R diagnosis.
       One study (Lewis et al.) makes a case for adding a new category to the DSM-III-R to describe individuals who fit the victim-to-victimizer syndrome. The Lewis et al. study, "Biopsychosocial Characteristics of Matched Samples of Delinquents and Nondelinquents," looked at 31 incarcerated delinquents and 31 nondelinquents. The variables they found to be significant were abuse/family violence, severe psychiatric symptomatology, cognitive impairment, minor neurological signs, and psychomotor symptoms. Abuse/family violence was the most significant variable that distinguished delinquents from nondelinquents. This variable also distinguished the more aggressive from the less aggressive subjects in each group.
       Lewis concluded that the variables mentioned above, when taken together, could predict delinquency 84 percent of the time. He explained first, that children imitate what they see. Second, violent abuse may result in injuries to the central nervous system, which in turn contribute to emotional instability, impulsiveness, and cognitive impairment. Lewis argued that with impaired functioning, delinquents may be physiologically less able to control their behavior. Lewis explained that most brain-injured people are not violent and not all abused children become delinquent. However, "the combination of neurological impairment, limbic dysfunction, episodic psychotic symptoms, and a history of severe abuse and/or family violence creates within the individual the matrix for the occurrence of violence" (p. 750). (Thornton et al. also discussed limbic and neurological disorders in relation to juvenile delinquency.)
       Lewis described a similar DSM-III-R category, "Dyscontrol Syndrome," that includes all the elements of his diagnosis, except family violence/abuse. Thus, Lewis proposed a new category he calls "Limbic-Psychotic-Aggressive Syndrome." He said the existence of this category would help professionals deal with individuals who were previously "dismissed as suffering from conduct disorder or antisocial personality." Lewis stated that a new DSM-III R diagnosis along these lines would help professionals understand and treat the problems of juveniles who commit repeated delinquent acts.


       Even if the research is not one hundred percent conclusive, I believe juvenile delinquency can be reduced by addressing the problem of family violence. Scholars, however, do not support this view. They are still reluctant to declare a definitive link between family violence and juvenile delinquency (Thornton et al.; Koski, 1988). As one author said,
Criminological knowledge is a cumulative enterprise. The theorist explains a perspective and researchers begin investigating that particular viewpoint. Through this scientific process, theory becomes clarified, and the conditions under which the theory holds true becomes specified. Taken together, the theories all contribute to an understanding of the multifaceted problem of delinquency. No evidence, no matter how persuasive, can prove a theory to be true. Supporting evidence assures only that the search will continue. Disconfirming evidence, however, can make a theory obsolete. Controversy among the theories/theorists is not to be taken as an indictment of the scientific enterprise but as an inherent element of progress (Thornton et al., p. 82).
       According to this explanation of scientific progress, it's understandable that scholars have been reluctant to declare a definite causal relationship between family violence and later delinquent behavior. However, the supporting evidence for that relationship is mounting. As one professional in the field (Jensen, 1990) said, "We have to see the [delinquent] as a victim. Until we, as professionals, stop treating the symptoms and start looking behind the scenes and saying, 'What is going on in this family?', we can't do a good job." A good first step would be to treat violence-to-delinquency as a real syndrome, recognized in the diagnostic manual.


Burgess, A.W., Hartman, C.R., McCormack, A. & Grant, C.A. (1988). Child victim to juvenile victimizer: Treatment implications. International Journal of Family Psychiatry, Vol. 9, No. 4, 403-416.
Carr, A. (1977). Final report on analysis of child maltreatment—juvenile misconduct association in eight New York counties. Report to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Office of Human Development Services, Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Eric document ED 180 157.
Dembo, R.M., Dertke, M., Williams, L., Wish, E.D., Berry, E., Getreu, A., Washburn, M., & Schmeidler, J. (1988). The relationship between physical and sexual abuse and illicit drug use: A replication among a new sample of youths entering a juvenile detention center. International Journal of the Addictions, Vol. 23, No. 4, 351-378.
Dembo, R.M., Washburn, M., Wish, E.D., Schmeidler, J., Getreu, A., Berry, E., Williams, L. & Blount, W.R. (1987). Further examination of the association between heavy marijuana use and crime among youths entering a juvenile detention center. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol. 19, No. 4, 361-373.
Dembo, R.M., Williams, L, Berry, E., Getreu, A., Wish, E.D., Dertke, M, & Schmeidler, J. (1988). The relationship between physical and sexual abuse and illicit drug use: A replication among a new sample of youths entering a juvenile detention center. International Journal of the Addictions, Vol 23, No. 11, 1101-1123.
Dembo, R.M., Williams, L., La Voie, L., Berry, E., Getreu, A., Wish, E.D., Schmeidler, J., & Washburn, M. (1989). Physical abuse, sexual victimization, and illicit drug use: Replication of a structural analysis among a new sample of high-risk youths. Violence and Victims, Vol. 4, No. 2, 121-138.
Farber, E.D., Kinast, C., McCoard, W.D., & Falkner, D. (1984). Violence in families of adolescent runaways. Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 8, 295-299.
Gelles, R.J. & Cornell, C.P. (1985). Intimate violence in families. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Hunner, R.J. & Walker, Y.E. (1981). Exploring the relationship between child abuse and delinquency. Montclair, NJ: Allanheld, Osman.
Jensen, D. (Interviewee). (1990). Taped telephone interview between Donna Jensen and Nori Muster. Salem, OR. (Unpublished).
Koski, P.R. (1988). Family violence and nonfamily deviance: Taking stock of the literature. Marriage and Family Review, Vol. 12, No. 1-2, 23-46.
Lewis, D.O., Pincus, J.H., Lovely, R., Spitzer, E., & Moy, E. (1987). Biopsychosocial characteristics of matched samples of delinquents and nondelinquents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 26, No. 5, 744-752.
Paperny, D., & Deisher, R.W. (1983). Maltreatment of adolescents: The relationship to a predisposition toward violent behavior and delinquency. Adolescence, Vol. 18, No. 71, 499-506.
Rosenbaum, J.L. (1989). Family dysfunction and female delinquency. Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 35, No. 1, 31-44.
Straus, M.B. (1988). Abuse and victimization across the life span. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.
Thornton, W.E., Voigt, L, & Doerner, W.G. (1987). Delinquency and justice. New York: Random House.
Wallerstein, J.S. & Blakeslee, S. (1988). Second chances: Men, women, and children a decade after divorce. New York: Ticknor & Fields.

Research Article Critique

This paper analyzes the statistical information in one academic essay:

Weiss, A.S. & Mendoza, R.H. (1990). Effects of acculturation into the Hare Krishna movement on mental health and personality. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29, 173-184.


       Weiss and Mendoza compare the mental health of a sample of Hare Krishna devotees to that of a norm group, hoping to find out if degree of involvement in the Hare Krishna group is negatively correlated with well-being.
       This article is one of a series of articles based on Weiss' dissertation on the mental health and personalities of 226 Hare Krishna devotees. In his study, Weiss used two psychological inventories, as well as one instrument he developed specifically to test the acculturation of Hare Krishna members. Weiss' study is purely correlational; the data are not meant to infer a causal relationship for any observed effect.


       In this article, Weiss and Mendoza cite great controversy over the psychological impact of cult involvement as the main reason for doing the study. They further state that Hare Krishnas "have been the subject of vigorous contention," including court battles in which they are accused of "brainwashing" their members. According to Weiss and Mendoza, studying the group's psychological characteristics will help psychologists, legal professionals, and the general public understand the social and legal standing of cult members. The authors assert that their study was necessary because "prior quantitative studies have been severely limited by both methodology and scope" (all references, p. 173).

How convincing is their rationale?

       The authors propose a clearly-written deductive argument. No one can disagree that there is a controversy about the mental health of cult members. The authors refer to alleged consequences of cult involvement, thus convincing the reader that it is important to study the members' mental health. Further, the reader is inclined support this study, since past studies have been inadequate.


       In this article, the authors wanted to find out if "greater cult involvement . . . is associated with decreased mental health" (p. 180). They were looking for a significant relationship between various test scores, so the hypothesis is correlational. It is also a directional hypothesis, since it uses the words "greater" and "decreased."
       Since dissertations are often highly scholarly, it is possible the original study was based on a null hypothesis form. If so, the hypothesis could have read, "Degree of cult involvement has no effect on Hare Krishna members' mental health." For this article, however, the authors have chosen the more easily understood directional hypothesis.


       The study involved 132 male and 94 female Hare Krishna devotees, with an average of 8.6 years involvement with a temple. The subjects came from eight U.S. sites and their average age was 30 years old. The article mentions the socioeconomic status, racial composition, and other variables. This is the largest sample of Hare Krishnas ever studied; Weiss' sample represents a good cross section.


       Attribute variables include the Hare Krishna subjects' age, gender, marital status, miscellaneous demographic information, and length of membership in the group. Other, more complex attribute variables include degree of acculturation and scores on mental health and personality tests.


       Each subject filled out three questionnaires. Two were well-known, reliable psychological evaluations, including:

1) The Mental Health Inventory (MHI), a 38-item self-report questionnaire developed by the Rand Corporation. This instrument measures characteristics on two scales: psychological well-being (general positive affect, emotional ties, and life satisfaction subscales) and psychological distress (anxiety, depression, loss of emotional/behavioral control subscales).
2) The Comrey Personality Scales (CPS), a 180-item self-report questionnaire developed by A.L. Comrey of the University of California, Los Angeles. This instrument consists of eight factor-analytically derived scales designed to measure personality constructs on eight major dimensions: trust vs. defensiveness; orderliness vs. lack of compulsion; social conformity vs. rebelliousness; activity vs. lack of energy; emotional stability vs. neuroticism; extraversion vs. introversion; masculinity vs. femininity; and empathy vs. egocentrism.
The third instrument was developed by Weiss:
3) The Acculturation Index (AI), a 117-item self-report questionnaire. This instrument measures religiosity and immersion in the culture of the Hare Krishna group by assessing "dietary habits, marriage and sexual practices, child-naming and education, donation of time and money to their temple, preaching involvement, dress styles, music and reading material, media listening and viewing habits, social and family life, formal religious activities and attendance, private religious and secular beliefs, and drug or substance use" (p. 175).

Data collection procedures:

       Hare Krishna leaders in the various U.S. locations allowed Weiss to use their temple populations as subject-volunteers for his study. (No payment was given to respondents.) Copies of the instruments were anonymously coded and mailed to temple officials, who then administered the tests in their respective temple locations. Weiss provided a collect telephone number for assistance; only two calls were received. Weiss also personally distributed the test packets to members of the Los Angeles non-temple community. Altogether, 530 questionnaires were distributed and 226 were returned with usable data. An additional 100 unused packets were returned by temple officials.
       It appears Weiss' data collection procedures were adequately controlled. Weiss also scored the tests and analyzed the data.

Data analysis procedures:

       For this article, Weiss and Mendoza's first step was to use the scores on the Acculturation Index (AI) to divide the Hare Krishna subjects into high- and low-AI groups. To do this, they plotted a frequency distribution. They chose subjects at or above the median for the high-AI group, while subjects below the median became part of the low-AI group. Both AI groups formed normal distributions, with the two means far enough apart to comprise two measurably-distant groupings.
       Now that Weiss and Mendoza had identified two sufficiently distinct AI groups, they could compare the MHI scores of the high- and low-acculturation groups with the MHI norm group. They did this by comparing the mean scores of each group using independent two-way t tests. This was an appropriate statistic to use.
       The researchers used numerous complex statistical analyses, well beyond the scope of this paper, including "multiple regression analysis," "linear, quadratic, and cubic polynomials of the variable AI," and "other AI range trichotomies" (pp. 177-178).


       The authors found that high-AI Hare Krishnas were happier than low-AI Hare Krishnas, and also happier than their counterparts in the MHI norm population.
       Weiss and Mendoza stated, "Mental health was not associated with differences in acculturation, except that highly acculturated Hare Krishna men (and women to a lesser extent) reported significantly greater well-being than did their general population norms or lesser acculturated peers (a positivity effect). Also scores of the lesser acculturated group did not differ significantly from those of the MHI norm group, except on a few of the MHI subscales where they were significantly lower" (p. 181).


       Weiss and Mendoza rejected their hypothesis, since test results showed just the opposite: acculturation has a positive correlation with well-being. The results of their study seemed to support their conclusion.
       It is interesting to note that Weiss would have also rejected a null hypothesis, which would have proposed that acculturation had no effect on well-being.


       It appears that this article was highly scientific since it involved complex statical analyses. While the average reader would find the material hard to understand, social scientists believe it is important to study subjective topics like personality and mental health from a scientific viewpoint. Thus, because it is scientific, this study provides the social scientific community with solid primary research.
       The study was also significant because it studied a large sample, used reliable instruments, and fine-tuned the data with appropriate statistical analyses. Further, the authors stated a concise rationale and hypothesis, which clearly explained what they wanted to measure.

State their conclusion as follows:

       "Comparisons of the MHI scores of the high and low AI groups to the MHI group means could be useful in evaluating the hypothesis that greater cult involvement (as measured by higher acculturation) is associated with decreased mental health, as feared by some . . . and that less acculturation is more likely to be associated with normal mental health. Our results suggest the contrary. High AI groups for both genders reported significantly greater well-being than did their respective MHI norms" (p. 180).

ISKCON as an Addictive Organization
CCYW 578, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Winter Quarter, 1990 (updated and published at Surrealist.org).

       I was a full-time member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), or Hare Krishna Movement, for ten years. ISKCON represents an ancient branch of Hinduism called Gaudiya Vaishnavism, primarily concerned with worship of Krishna and his incarnations. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a lifelong Vaishnava born in Calcutta, brought the religion to the West at the request of his guru. Prabhupada came to America in 1965 at the age of seventy-two and attracted a following. He opened the first temple 1966 in New York's lower east side, and at the time of his death eleven years later, ISKCON listed more than a hundred temples in twenty-five countries around the world.
       I joined ISKCON in 1977, just when Prabhupada died. At that time, eleven senior disciples named themselves as gurus and legislated themselves into power. Although Prabhupada had formed a twenty-four man board of directors (the Governing Body Commission or GBC) that was supposed to be in charge, the eleven gurus became the only men in the GBC with real power. The gurus divided the world into eleven zones, taking control of the temples within their zones. New people joining ISKCON took initiation from whichever guru controlled the temple in their geographical area.
       I would like to take a few pages to explain the dynamics that were at work in ISKCON. There was something going on under the surface that kept me in a dependent state. Rather than brainwashing (if labels must be used), I would more accurately call it codependence to a system that I loved and hoped would work. Psychologists and popular authors banter about words like codependent, dysfunctional, and addictive, as if their meanings were standard knowledge. But used on their own, without explanation, they mean little to most people. Therefore, before I explain why ISKCON was a dysfunctional organization, let me define a few terms.
       Dysfunctional is usually applied to families, but also describe anything from a broken washing machine to society at large. To qualify as dysfunctional, obviously the thing in question has ceased to function, or perhaps never functioned in the first place. A family cannot function if the individual members don't communicate their ideas, feelings, needs, and desires. Lack of communication is usually embraced and reinforced by a stringent set of unspoken family rules. For example, an implied rule may be that no one is allowed to talk about Father's gambling, even if everyone feels its negative financial effects. Thus, bound by shame and fear, family members allow the father to continue his addiction to gambling. Codependence is when family members comply with an addict, allowing, even helping, him or her carry out an addiction. Addiction may be defined as an obsession with negative consequences that is out of control. Usually addicts and codependents deny there is a problem.
       Two researchers, Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel, have shown how the traits of dysfunctional families operate in organizations, in their book, The Addictive Organization. Their theories explain a great deal about the way ISKCON functioned, at least during the years of its decline.
       While the precepts and practices of Krishna consciousness are benevolent, the organization (at least in North America) had spiritual psychological trouble. In his book, Path With Heart, Jack Kornfield criticized groups like ISKCON, saying that
When Eastern spirituality in America began to be popular in the 1960s and 1970s, its practice was initially idealistic and romantic. People tried to use spirituality to get high and to experience extraordinary states of consciousness. There was a belief in perfect gurus and complete and wonderful teachings that if followed would lead to our full enlightenment and change the world. These were the imitative and self-absorbed qualities that Chogyam Trungpa called spiritual materialism. By undertaking the rituals, the costumes, and the philosophy of spiritual traditions, people tried to escape their ordinary lives and become more spiritual beings.
       Kornfield proposes that superficial idealism is to blame in unsuccessful Eastern group. After living as a member of a spiritual group that became material, I believe the problems go deeper. ISKCON's weaknesses mirror the weaknesses of dysfunctional families, as happens in many modern organizations. The Addictive Organization, by A.W. Schaef, explains this dynamic and in this paper I will use Schaef's model to examine American temple life in ISKCON.

Schaef's Model of Addictive Organizations

       Systemic addiction theory explains why addicts and their families fight and fall into dysfunctional modes. In The Addictive Organization, Schaef says there's "a generic addiction process that underlies all the various addictions." She takes addiction beyond the family and states that treatment must involve the addictive workplace, since that is where people spend most of their time. Thus she identifies addictive organizations as the infrastructure of the addictive society and as the glue that perpetuates addiction at a societal level.
       Schaef observes that addictive organizations exhibit the characteristics of addicts and usually have addictive employees. She explains, "Individuals function the same way as the organization they inhabit." Once the addictive process is in motion, however, the organization perpetuates its own addiction, even though individuals may come and go.
       Addictive people working in addictive organizations include addicts, codependents, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs). Each has their own characteristics, with some of the characteristics overlapping between addictive types. Addicts are those who abuse substances like alcohol, drugs, or food; or processes like work, sex, money, gambling, or relationships. Codependents are those who try to protect the addicts from suffering the effects of their addiction. They generally have low self-esteem and may be addicted to work and to pleasing authority figures. ACOAs are also codependent, although they may resent the authority figures they try to please. Because ACOAs come from broken or dysfunctional homes, they are attracted to organizations that portray themselves as surrogate families.
       Schaef identifies four ways the disease of addiction may afflict an organization. First, one of the key people may be an addict. Second, the organization may have many addicts, codependents, and ACOAs who bring dysfunctional behavior into the workplace. Third, the organization itself may be the addictive substance. And finally, the organization itself may be the addict. These states form a downward spiral and organizations at the bottom of the spectrum abuse the workers and clients they try to serve. In 1989, when I left ISKCON, it exhibited symptoms in each of these categories.

ISKCON Leaders as Addicts

       Addicts tend to make faulty decisions, exhibit paranoid or schizoid behavior, and perpetuate dishonesty and confusion. Having an addict in a key position can lead an organization to disaster.
       Of the 11 men who assumed control of ISKCON in 1977, several were later exposed as addicts. Addiction means a habit that is impossible to break, even with evidence that the habit is causing problems in one's life. ISKCON members (including leaders) are sworn to follow spiritual principals of no intoxication, no meat eating, no gambling, and no illicit sex. Of the 11 gurus, six were expelled for breaking the principles and failing to meditate, among other reasons.
       Schaef explains that organizational addicts cannot remain in power unless they are surrounded by codependents. Without the codependents covering up, the key person's addiction would be exposed. Thus, the organization enters a state of denial to cover up for and protect the addict. This happened in ISKCON, as I explained in my book. Schaef says that one way an addictive organizations may deal with a key-person-as-addict is by trying to exert control over the addict. According to Schaef, this makes the problem worse: "Focusing on control puts the company into the same addictive system as the addict, that is, a system operating out of the illusion of control." Schaef says this method almost always results in crisis.
       ISKCON gurus tried unsuccessfully for years to control one guru's problem with hallucinogens. As good codependents, they kept the problem a secret, hoping they could reform him before it got out of hand. The guru exhibited bizarre behavior, such as going into trance and chanting for hours at a time. He would sometimes scream or exhibit other symptoms of hysteria under the influence of LSD. None of his disciples were aware of his drug problem, so they were left confused about his behavior. Jayathirtha led them to believe that he was exhibiting the ecstatic symptoms of an enlightened soul. After years of trying different plans to reform this guru, the GBC expelled him. This caused a split among his disciples—some followed Jayatirtha and some remained in ISKCON. Jayatirtha started his own group; a mixture of Krishna consciousness, Christianity, and LSD. In 1986 he was stabbed to death and decapitated in London by a drug-crazed disciple, a former ISKCON member.
       Schaef explains that key addicts sometimes con others into excusing their behavior, or their irrational behavior is overlooked simply because they are the boss. This was the case in ISKCON. Even though the gurus' problems were widely known in 1980, the GBC didn't take action to expel gurus until the mid-1980s.
       It is interesting that more than half of the 11 gurus were expelled for breaking the rules of celibacy. Schaef explains that the duality of good and bad, right and wrong, can create a repressive-addictive system. In the case of ISKCON, the celibate gurus became overly concerned about the sexual habits of their disciples. There was a tragic problem with child abuse in the ISKCON school system. As psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe observes, organizations like the Catholic Church (and ISKCON) demand celibacy but do not train for it. One ISKCON member accused of child molestation tried to defend himself in court by saying that the sexual repression in ISKCON drove him to molest children. It may be true, however the judge sentenced him to jail anyway.

Taking Your Disease With You

       Schaef explains that organizations become more addictive when addictive people replicate their dysfunctional behaviors at the workplace. She says that for addicts, codependents, and ACOAs, "A person not involved in active recovery is probably part of the problem." The organization becomes a crisis clinic, with everyone pouring their own fears and dysfunctions into the tumult.
       Some ISKCON members were addicts, ACOAs, and codependents before joining the organization. Many abused drugs and many had a troubled adolescence. Some could be called social dropouts, but such behavior was typical of 1960s and early 1970s culture when ISKCON had its greatest influx of new members. (Despite its addictive structure, ISKCON has had a positive effect on many people who joined. However, this is a separate subject.)
       Schaef defines codependents as "servers, volunteers, and people who set aside their own needs to serve the needs of others." ISKCON encourages its members to think of themselves as servants of God and servants of the guru. This is a tenet of the ancient philosophy, but in the context of a spiritual organization that has become materialistic, being a servant means being codependent. The disciples had to overlook a guru who cannot even follow the basic principles.
       Schaef identifies specific behavioral difficulties for the ACOA and the codependent at work. ACOAs may become obsessed with perfectionism, self-criticism, workaholism, and rigidity in thinking. Codependents may exhibit symptoms similar to an enabler spouse, who protects the addict or covers up when their performance is questioned. I found this to be true in my own case. Whenever I heard rumors about my guru or another authority figure, I tried to ignore or defuse the rumor. Our office gave official statements to the media, to officially deny allegations. As editors of the ISKCON newspaper, my husband and I routinely whitewashed corruption or deviation. The newspaper voluntarily carried the party line until 1986, when we tried to develop editorial independence, publishing interviews, editorials, and news stories about ISKCON's problems.

ISKCON as an Addictive Substance

       Schaef explains that an organization may be more than just a setting where addictive behavior takes place. The organization can become the addictive substance itself. Like a drug, work can take over a workaholic's entire life. Schaef describes work as the fix that helps the workaholic to get ahead, be successful, avoid feeling, and ultimately avoid living. Workaholics tend to lose touch with other aspects of their lives and may give up all that they previously knew, felt, and believed.
       Just like the workaholic, devotees are praised for letting the organization become everything in their lives. Like the workaholic, devotees may also give up previously-held beliefs. Critics accuse ISKCON and other cults of brainwashing members and turning them into zombies. But Schaef offers what may be a more logical explanation. The new devotee may be an ACOA or codependent predisposed to addictive systems. Rejection of family members and old friends may be due to the person's decision to fully embrace the new system.
       In 1984, a Ph.D. dissertation published by A.S. Weiss showed that ISKCON devotees' hallmark trait is compulsivity. His findings contradict the stereotypical image of cult members as empty-headed robots. Rather, his findings agree with Schaef's diagnosis of ACOAs and codependents in the workplace. According to the theories of Schaef and Weiss, devotees would be better understood as hard working, intelligent people, who are caught up in an addictive system that promotes workaholism.
       Schaef explains that another way organizations become addictive is by promising things members did not get from their families: approval, caring, and a sense of belonging. For organizations that appear to be one big, happy family, the best-adjusted members are those who come from dysfunctional families.
       ISKCON members refer to their organization as the ISKCON family. Everyone is either a godbrother or a godsister, and Prabhupada is referred to as the spiritual father of all ISKCON devotees. GBC leaders use the analogy of the ISKCON family to reinforce the concept of unity. This became a form of denial as the organization disintegrated in Prabhupada's absence. The idealized concept of the ISKCON Family was much better than the reality.
       Unfortunately, as Schaef explains, an addictive organization cannot fulfill the role of a family. She said,
It is a family in which membership is dependent on playing by rather rigid rules and behaving according to established norms. This kind of corporation is a family whose main mode of operating is control. Thus, acceptance in the family is won by learning the right thing to do and doing it (just as in the addictive family). The main thing learned about family from the promise of the organization is that membership is conditional upon not being oneself and following one's own path. The other lesson learned is to keep attuned outside oneself and to be constantly vigilant about those things one needs to do to stay in the company's good graces and win approval.
       Control and conformity were requirements for membership in the ISKCON family. The family had rigid expectations for every aspect of life, including attendance of temple services and functions, participation in temple jobs, giving up outside activities, standards for child rearing, what to wear, how to eat, and even recommendations of what to think and how to pray. Non-participation and non-compliance could be punished or simply disapproved. That disapproval often came in the form of chastisement, or correction from a more tenured devotee. Some had financial assistance cut off, others were physically or emotionally abused; one man was murdered for his dissidence. To say the least, members who were unable to meet an organization's codes found themselves living in an inhospitable and unloving environment.
       Schaef offers an explanation of how the organization-as-addictive substance makes itself attractive to potential addicts. The Promise is the illusion that "directs us eagerly to the future, to some hoped-for reward, while keeping us out of touch with the present." In a commercial organization, the promise may consist of power, money, and influence. In ISKCON, the promise is translated into religious terms: liberation from birth and death, relationship with God, and suffering transcended. Another aspect of the promise is the organization's statement of its mission and goals. The mission gives the organization purpose and propels it forward.
       A list of ISKCON's goals printed in Back to Godhead magazine includes unity and peace in the world. Admirable, but hard to achieve. Other organizational goals (not published, but nonetheless widely espoused by members) include bringing about an age of enlightenment, introducing Krishna consciousness into government circles and gaining political power, a devotee elected president of the United States, opening temples in every city in the world, establishing Krishna consciousness as the most prominent world religion, and ultimately, saving the world.
       Schaef explains that the addictive organization is rarely able to fulfill its promises. The goals are usually exaggerated to the point of grandiosity; grandiosity that gives gross self-importance to the group, while keeping the goals lofty and unattainable.
       After Prabhupada died, many ISKCON leaders believed that a third world war would soon destroy everything. When the debris cleared, devotees would emerge as the only survivors and start a new world order. This vision of holocaust is symptomatic of frustration over the grandiosity of the stated goals. It is similar to the evangelic Christian belief that the world will be saved after the Apocalypse. In Schaef's terms, fixation on Apocalypse is how members of an addictive organization may deal with feelings of pain and frustration when they don't see any tangible progress toward their stated goals.
       Schaef explains the grandiosity of the mission as a fix or con that reassures members they are doing important work. She explains that no matter how poorly the organization performs, everything will be all right as long as the mission remains in its shrine as a household god. In ISKCON, the mission is revered like a god; ISKCON is even referred to as the body of Prabhupada or an incarnation of Krishna. The BBT, the book publishing branch, is referred to as Prabhupada's heart. Dedicated followers used scriptural quotes to validate ISKCON's mission and goals. By quoting scripture, they hoped to convince others that the mission was still intact, even as it become progressively more dysfunctional.
       In 1988 in a discussion about ISKCON's problems, a member asked whether all the problems in ISKCON would ever be rectified. The speaker, a representative of the GBC, used a "Prabhupada said" cliché to convince the questioner that ISKCON's mission and goals were still intact:
Question: You make the point that things have been rectified, but . . . it took eight years. If something else goes wrong it could take another eight years—I may be dead by the time you solve all the problems. Reply: Fine, but at least things are being rectified . . . Prabhupada gave us a very simple formula: Chant and be happy. Who can stop us from chanting? Did anyone ever stop you from chanting? Did anyone ever say that you can't chant Hare Krishna, and can't be happy from chanting? I mean, where does our real happiness lie? It lies in our Krishna consciousness. Our Krishna consciousness is actually our real concern, and no one can stop us from becoming Krishna conscious. When we become devotees, then automatically all the problems will be adjusted.
       Schaef explains that the addictive process is in motion whenever the promise of the mission is used to cover up for problems and shortcomings in the organization. In this case, the ISKCON leader used a concept that has great integrity for the devotees, but turned it into an addictive substance.
       Another aspect of the con is that as the organization becomes increasingly self-centered and immoral, the goals become distorted. The organization develops ulterior motives, which Schaef calls unstated goals. Schaef finds "an inverse correlation between the loftiness of the mission and the congruence between stated and unstated goals." While fixing everyone's attention on the grandiose stated mission, the addictive organization pursues its unstated goals. When discrepancies appear, the addictive organization enters a state of denial.
       Among ISKCON's unstated goals were the pursuit of money and property. When the 11 gurus divided ISKCON in 1977, they competed to see who could get the most money by sending disciples to airports and parking lots. They called it transcendental competition and said they were doing it for God. The money paid for properties, including castles and chateaus in Europe. Each guru had to buy a rural retreat for the impending Apocalypse. Another mark of accomplishment for a guru was to attract rich or famous followers. Our newspaper regularly printed articles about actors and actresses, models, rock stars, scholars, and government officials who endorsed Krishna consciousness.
       Schaef explains that workers become discouraged when they realize how much time they spend working on unstated goals. In fact, Schaef said this duality can cause an individual to lose touch with their own sense of morality and spirituality. In Alcoholics Anonymous it is called moral deterioration. Often in ISKCON, members became discouraged when they had to work for long hours to collect money. Sometimes leaders told them to conceal their identity as ISKCON members, since what they were doing was illegal, or at least deceptive. Still, the organization condoned these activities; leaders told the members that fundraising was a form of preaching. These preachers often dropped out of ISKCON because they couldn't reconcile deceptive fundraising practices with the stated spiritual goals of the organization.
       Schaef says that addiction is a spiritual disease. She writes, "Indeed, whenever we confuse religion with spirituality, we are opting for the structure, control, and rules of an addictive system. This reliance on religion may remove us from the inner search only we can do from the depths of our own being."

ISKCON as an Addict

       In her examination of addictive organizations, Schaef proposes that sometimes the organization itself becomes an addict. It exhibits all the symptoms of an addict: it becomes powerless over its problems; its disease grows progressively worse; it loses its sense of values and morality; it functions primarily out of self-centeredness, the illusion of control, dualism, and isolation; it exhibits confused, obsessive, and paranoid thinking processes; and it exerts progressively more control over its members.
       Denial and dishonesty are important aspects of an organization as addict. Schaef explains that an organization, like an individual, is in denial when it refuses to acknowledge what is really happening. Making others believe a denial-ridden assessment is an example of dishonesty. Denial and dishonesty have been important factors in ISKCON's addiction process. The public affairs office's main job was to convince the members and outside world that everything was okay when it wasn't okay. But it wasn't just the P.R. office; other ISKCON leaders engaged in denial and dishonesty.
       Much denial surrounded ISKCON's main crisis, which started in 1985. At that time, several hundred ISKCON members led a revolt against the GBC. In a special meeting, the members challenged the GBC for its policy of allowing several gurus to hold all the power. In response to the uprising, the GBC expelled four of the 11 gurus and accepted 30 new men to be gurus. Several gurus also agreed to diminish the amount of worship and respect they received from their disciples. This was known as the Guru Reform Movement. A period of turmoil, in-fighting, and confusion followed. In 1988, a GBC spokesman gave the following assessment to a group of devotees:
In 1986 [ISKCON] reached a very critical point—the optimum point of crisis. And last year, in 1987, it seemed that everything was going to fall apart. No one really knew how the Society could be saved, but somehow by Krishna's mercy, ISKCON has been saved. And now, in 1988, we see that actually things are improving. And I'm sure now we will see that everything will be improving with time. The spirit is high, although we lost a lot of our assets; we lost a lot of our properties; a lot of our devotees. But still, those who are left—they have become very, very strong. Their conviction has become very, very profound. I am quite positive that things will be improving. Things are improving and will be improving in future.
       Schaef says that when dishonesty and denial are the norm, members believe that the organization would not survive if it were honest. This explains why certain leaders did not want us to publish honest information in the ISKCON newspaper. In 1988, shortly before I resigned, the chairman of the GBC called me a "crusading, exposé, get-all-the-dirt-out" journalist. He said the GBC could not tolerate this in the official ISKCON newspaper.
       Schaef explains that dishonesty is the result of perfectionism. The illusion that everything is perfect cannot be maintained unless questionable information is withheld. Thus, leaders in an addictive organization may become obsessed with denial and dishonesty, even in matters that are inconsequential, since they want everything to appear perfect.
       Members of an addictive organization tend to experience anxiety and pressure. However, they easily lose touch with what they feel because there are no facilities for expressing feelings. When ISKCON members say they are unhappy, leaders may tell them to read scripture or chant. Oft cited in this regard is a verse in the scriptures that promotes "revealing one's mind in confidence," but leaders leave it up to individuals to find a way to carry out that instruction. ISKCON members would benefit from meetings structured similar to 12-step meetings, where they could learn to express thoughts and feelings.
       One of the main features of an organization as addict is its confused communications processes. Instead of direct and honest communication, there are gossip and secrets. This goes on in ISKCON, beginning with the people at the top. The men in the GBC are very secretive about what goes on in their meetings. They discuss the organization's secrets, but then suppress the information. Their meetings are exclusive—they rarely allow observers and do not circulate their minutes. Only people who have a friend in the GBC can read the minutes. Even then, several resolutions simply appear with the word "unpublished." Thus, no one can learn the intimate secrets of the GBC.
       Instituting a more honest editorial policy in the ISKCON newspaper was a personal attempt to clear up the secrets and gossip. We wanted to interview GBC members, but they were reluctant. We tried to publish results of their meetings, but they discouraged us. The resistance we faced shows that the GBC body did not want their secrets exposed in an open forum. It also leads me to believe that they want the organization to remain in a state of confusion.
       Schaef explains that addict organizations do not permit straight talk, honesty, or directness. This was true for the newspaper and also true for individuals. Good devotees are not supposed to say anything blasphemous about the organization or its leaders.
       Crisis is another characteristic of an addictive organization. When the system is confused, deceptive, and unable to deal with situations in a straightforward manner, every problem is allowed to continue to the point of crisis. For example, an electric bill is not a crisis until the utility company turns off the power. Schaef explains that ACOAs are adept at dealing with crises, since they have been doing so all their lives in their dysfunctional homes. Many in an addictive system believe that crisis is natural, since they have never known anything else.
       The history of the ISKCON public affairs office has been one crisis after another. The Jonestown tragedy happened two months after I joined. ISKCON's image as a cult had long been denied and ignored, so ISKCON became a target in the backlash against all cults. After Jonestown, a Life magazine photographer wanted to do a photo story about ISKCON's educational system. We panicked because we knew the school's reputation was questionable; the main school in Dallas had been closed down after a negative media reports. The public affairs minister had to make an emergency trip to New York to work out an agreement with Life magazine's attorneys. Next, airport managers tried to evict devotee fundraisers—a crisis, since ISKCON had no other means of finance. Then, another media crisis started in northern California, after a guru's arsenal was exposed. The next crisis was a large hashish bust in Laguna Beach. ISKCON leaders had long denied the problem of drug dealing within the organization, so when former members were arrested with drugs, it became a crisis. The next media crisis was in relation to a court case where ISKCON was sued for brainwashing.
       All these events happened between 1978 and 1983. The years before and after are similar. Even though the organization faced several media crises every year, the leaders were only willing to spend between $1,000 and $2,000 a month to support our public affairs activities. Often, the local guru blamed us for the crises and threatened to take away our support altogether if we didn't do a better job. Thus, an attitude of denial left ISKCON with no solid public relations plan.
       Another aspect of addictive thinking is projection. Schaef defines this as the process of taking something that is inside and placing it outside. In ISKCON, this happens when someone leaves the group. Those inside say the former member is a fool, has lost his spirituality, has made a mistake, or simply lacks piety. Another example of projection is when someone inside ISKCON characterizes the outside world as dishonest, sinful, or degraded. Schaef explains that the organization as addict always blames others, being unwilling to look at itself. Devotees dismiss bad media coverage as demons trying to discredit ISKCON.
       Dualism, another aspect of addict systems, is also present in ISKCON. Members of the organization are taught to think in terms of us and them. According to Schaef, this sets up sides and creates enemies. It serves the purpose of the addict, though, because it simplifies all decisions. Everything becomes black or white, with no room for subtlety or ambiguity. In ISKCON's case, dualism prevents the organization from establishing coalitions within the host society. We tried for several years to foster relationships with animal rights and vegetarian groups by inviting them to submit news items for the newspaper. Unfortunately, a vocal faction of readers complained about our printing animal rights articles. They said those people have no place in ISKCON's newspaper.
       Along with projection and dualism comes judgmentalism. This involves making a judgment that something is bad, simply because one disagrees with it. People outside of ISKCON are not just different, they are judged bad and inferior. People outside ISKCON are referred to as karmis (people who engage in karma, as opposed to yoga). Devotees within ISKCON who cannot measure up to the strict codes of behavior are also judged bad. They are often referred to as fringies (people on the fringe).
       ISKCON's judgmental attitude toward the outside world is one factor that prevents the temples from attracting a wider congregation. Blinded by judgmental attitudes, full-time devotees send out a condescending message to anyone who will not give up everything and live full time in the temple. This judgmental, condescending outlook has also alienated former full-time members who would otherwise find a place in the congregation. Schaef says that judgmentalism stunts growth, limits creativity, and turns people in the organization against one another. Unfortunately, ISKCON's addictive attitudes toward the outside world have left the organization isolated and without friends. In Schaef's words, "It allows one to stay stuck."

Conclusions, Opinions

       Schaef recommends that religious and spiritual organizations focus on spirituality within the group before preaching to others. I agree. Because ISKCON's stated purpose is to spread spiritual teachings, the organization ought to have high spiritual standards. Unfortunately, leaders of the organization do not see that as a priority. As one ISKCON leader said, "It's easy to assume that there are problems in ISKCON, but there are problems in every organization. Who's to say that in these other groups they don't have any problems?" This is like saying, "Well, ISKCON may be an addictive, sick organization, but some organizations are worse." By maintaining an addictive system, ISKCON is actually cheating sincere religious seekers who join the organization.
       Schaef also notes that addictive organizations tend to drive away their best employees. This has been one of the effects of the addictive system in ISKCON. Unless the organization heals itself, it will cease to exist. Even now, most people who remain are there because they derive some benefit in terms of money or admiration. Ordinary members are being driven out by economic necessity, while leaders still derive financial support from the temples or from their supporters. There is a common joke among ISKCON's critics that the old leaders are dinosaurs who are running out of watering holes. It is true, the organization is gradually going bankrupt, struggling to hold onto members and real property. [Editor's note. This was written in 1990 before ISKCON settled the George vs. ISKCON case. Mark Twain said, "Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated," and so it is with ISKCON. The organization has lived to face its next big challenge, Children of ISKCON vs. ISKCON, filed June 12, 2000.]
       My personal feelings about the demise of this organization are a mixture of resentment, regret, and resign. I sincerely believed in the mission and goals of ISKCON at one time. Hoping to see the mission succeed, I allowed myself to become a codependent puppet of the leaders. I resent being used in that way. But even more important, I regret that Prabhupada's work of bringing an ancient religion to the West has been spoiled by an addictive organization that still refuses to own up to its abuses. I have also resigned to the possibility that without Prabhupada, the organization was destined to fail. It is possible that an addictive system naturally follows the untimely and tragic death of a charismatic leader. It is even more likely to fall into disarray if someone murders the leader to take over his organization. Tape recorded conversations and other evidence point to the allegation that the inheritor gurus of ISKCON poisoned Srila Prabhupada in order to take over his legacy. It has never been proven, but it would explain the level of dysfunction in the years following Srila Prabhupada's death.


Bhakti-caru Swami (1988). San Diego: Taped conversations between GBC member and temple devotees.
Bhaktivedanta, A.C. (1974). Caitanya-caritamrta. Tokyo: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Bhaktivedanta, A.C. (1975). The Nectar of Instruction. Victoria, Australia: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Bhaktivedanta, A.C. (1987). Srimad Bhagavatam. Singapore: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Nityananda Dasa. (1989). "A Challenge Horse for the GBC!" and "Guru or Ritvik?" Vedic Village Review, No. 11, 1­12.
Ramesvara. (1986). Los Angeles: Taped lecture.
Ravindra-svarupa Dasa (1988). Los Angeles: Taped conversation between GBC chairman and associate editor of the ISKCON World Review.
Rochford, E.B., Jr., Ph.D. (1985). Hare Krishna in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Schaef, A.W., & Fassel, D. (1988). The Addictive Organization. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Shinn, L.D., Ph.D. (1987). The Dark Lord, Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Weiss, A.S., Ph.D. (1984). "Mental Health and Personality Characteristics of Hare Krishna Devotees and Sympathizers as a Function of Acculturation into the Hare Krishna Movement." Dissertation Abstracts International.

Treating the Adolescent Victim-Turned-Offender
Adolescence, Vol. 27, No. 106, Summer 1992


       Many juvenile sex offenders are also victims of sexual abuse. However, treatment primarily focuses on the juvenile's criminal acts in a confrontational, non-sympathetic manner. A survey of professionals in the sexual abuse treatment field assesses attitudes toward juvenile sex offender treatment. Those in the corrections field were the greatest supporters of confrontational and punitive therapy methods, while the majority favored flexibility in treatment.
       Sexual child abuse is a growing problem in our society. A 1985 Los Angeles Times survey estimated that nearly 38 million adults in America were sexually abused as children (cited in Engel, 1989). Statistics show that one in three women and one in seven men are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18 (Cooney, 1987; Giarretto, 1982).
       While children react to sexual abuse in a variety of ways, one common response is that abused children may become sexually reactive. That is, they may touch or grab playmates and adults, mimic sex play on younger children (sometimes to the point of penetration), abuse animals, masturbate at inappropriate times and places, and use sexual language to antagonize adults. They may also have sexual girlfriend/boyfriend relationships as early as eight or ten years of age. When sexually reactive children enter adolescence, precocious sexual behavior becomes grounds for incarceration and correctional treatment. If juvenile sex offenders are not rehabilitated, they risk going on to become adult child molesters, rapists, or pedophiles (Engel, 1989; Forward & Buck, 1978; Straus, 1988).

Theoretical Viewpoints and Therapy

       One school of treatment specialists promote confrontational group therapy as the most effective way to rehabilitate sex offenders. These experts argue that the first step in treatment is to break denial and minimization. They maintain that sympathetic treatment (helping offenders work through their own issues of victimization) would allow them to rationalize and avoid responsibility for their acts (Borzecki & Wormith, 1987; French, 1988; Stevenson, Castillo, & Sefarbi, 1989).
       In a study comparing 34 adult sex offender treatment programs in the United States and Canada, researchers found that, "Throughout, the focus of such counseling is on the offender's accepting responsibility for his actions and the understanding of factors that precipitated commission of the offense" (Borzecki & Wormith, 1987). The researchers said they found similar trends in juvenile sex offender treatment programs.
       Little has been published about juvenile sex offender treatment. However, therapists in the field are a good source of knowledge about current techniques. One treatment specialist said he begins his juvenile sex offender meetings by having each boy state the name of his victim and the nature of his offense. He admits that this weekly disclosure is emotionally painful, but he perceives it as necessary to make offenders own up to what they have done. The treatment specialist agreed that the therapeutic value of the process is analogous to lancing a boil to let the poison out, before healing can take place.
       Confrontation is the standard procedure in most juvenile sex offender treatment groups. The offender issues are discussed first; the client's own victimization is addressed only after the juvenile takes responsibility for his criminal acts. In some states, the full range of adult treatment is now being used on juveniles, including drug therapy (known as chemical castration), aversion therapy, or penile plethysmograph assessment (DeZolt & Kratcoski, 1989). In some extreme cases, treatment may even include psychosurgery-castration, or castration.
       Although some states subject juvenile sex offenders to the full range of adult treatment, no state mandates these treatments for children. Sexually reactive children are still treated sympathetically. But it could be argued that juvenile sex offenders who were abused fall somewhere between an adult sex offender and child victims of sexual abuse. Thus, juvenile sex offenders may be deserving of sympathetic therapy, especially if their behavior is a result of the abuse they suffered.

Survey of Experts in the Field

       While little has been written about juvenile sex offender treatment, even less has been written about sympathetic versus confrontational treatment methods. To get more information on current attitudes, a questionnaire was mailed to 50 counselors and psychologists who work in the field of sexual abuse and sex offender treatment. A total of 18 usable surveys were received by the deadline. Three respondents were psychologists (17%), eight had master's degrees (44%), five had master's of social work degrees (28%), one had a bachelor's degree only, and one had M.E.D. certification only. Ten of the respondents (60%) worked in private practice, while the others reported working for public and private agencies. Eleven worked with child sexual abuse victims; 13 with adults molested as children; nine with juvenile sex offenders; and five with adult sex offenders. Ten of the 18 (60%) reported working with both victims and offenders. Thus, although the sample is small, it was a good mix of private and agency therapists who work with both offenders and victims.
       The instrument was meant to assess preferences for confrontational or sympathetic treatment in three different age groups: child victims of sexual abuse who act out sexually, juvenile sex offenders who were victims of sexual child abuse, and adult sex offenders who were victims of sexual abuse. Figure 3* compares respondents' willingness to use sympathetic methods with each group. The specific statements analyzed in this chart are, "I would use sympathetic methods that are normally used with sexual abuse victims" and "Sympathetic forms of therapy tend to reinforce minimization and denial."
       As expected, therapists said they would choose sympathetic methods most frequently with children (39% pro-sympathetic, compared to 17% anti-sympathetic). Juveniles ranked equally for pro-sympathetic and anti-sympathetic (33% to 33%), while adults ranked slightly less likely to have anti-sympathetic treatment (only 28% said they were anti-sympathetic).

       Figure 4 addresses the controversy, "What should the therapist address first, abuse issues or offender issues?" The specific statements analyzed in this chart are: "Offender issues should be dealt with first," "Offender's own sexual abuse issues should be dealt with first," "Abuse and offender issues should be dealt with simultaneously," "The therapist should be flexible about what to work on first," and "Since offenders are criminals, only the criminal behavior need be addressed."
       Overall, the categories "simultaneous" and "flexible" scored highest. No one responded that only criminal issues should be addressed in any of the age categories. The majority thought it best to address the victimization issues of children and juveniles before moving on to offender issues. In the case of adults, there was more support for beginning with offender issues (28% compared to 11% for victimization issues). However, the greatest majority (72%) felt the therapist should be flexible when dealing with adult sex offenders.

       Figure 5 charts respondents' approval of the more severe forms of therapy with sex offenders: confrontational group therapy, aversion therapy with penile plethysmograph assessment, and castration.
       While the questionnaire did not ask about using aversion therapy or castration with children, three respondents (17%) said they approve of confrontational group therapy for children. The preference for these three techniques was greatest with adults, but also high for juveniles. For example, 17% said they approve of castration for juvenile sex offenders.

       In Figure 6, respondents were asked to specify when a sexual abuse victim should be responsible for aggressive sexual behavior. Of the 18 respondents, one third gave no answer, one third said "any age," "all life," "all ages," and so on. Another 28% named a figure between three and six years of age. Only one person said anything beyond kindergarten. Thus 61% thought children should be held responsible beginning at an age younger than six.


       The therapists in this study generally thought therapy should be flexible--not necessarily limited to the confrontational mode. They did not hold fast to the theory that offender issues must be addressed first, as evinced by the strong support for simultaneous and flexible approaches with all three age categories (see Figure 4). Given a choice of which issues to address first with juvenile sex offenders, more therapists chose victim issues over offender issues (28% compared to 17%).
       The respondents did not attribute significant credibility to the notion that sympathetic forms of therapy reinforce minimization and denial. In the questions dealing with this issue, neither viewpoint had a majority in regard to juveniles (33% to 33%, see Figure 3, below). With adults, respondents seemed even less likely to support the minimization and denial contention (33% pro-sympathetic; 28% anti-sympathetic).
       The data from these two questions supports a flexible approach and appears neutral on the question of minimization and denial. This contradicts the prevailing belief that most therapists belong to the owning up school of offender treatment. Half of the respondents didn't even cast a vote for pro-sympathetic or anti-sympathetic treatment with juveniles, indicating that they may have no strong opinion on the subject.

Who Says "Offender Issues Should be Dealt With First"?

       In reviewing the survey data, it may be revealing to analyze who agreed with the statement, "offender issues must be addressed first," since this is one of the main tenets of the owning up school of therapy.
       In the case of juveniles, there were three respondents (17%) who said yes. Of these, one therapist not only said yes to "offender issues first," but picked all the answers, including "offender issues first," "abuse issues first," "simultaneous," and "flexible." Apparently, he thought all issues were important. The second therapist who checked "offender issues first" worked for a state-run youth and family treatment unit. His program was based on the owning up philosophy, and thus it is logical that he would agree with this statement.
       The third respondent who chose "offender issues first" described herself as a feminist counselor. There is a feeling among some feminists that juvenile sex offenders are let off too easy, while their young female victims are exploited. This issue was discussed in Child Sexual Abuse: A Feminist Reader, edited by Driver and Droisen (1989). While this may be a valid point in some respects, it can be argued that juvenile sex offenders are already treated too harshly. After all, many juvenile sex offenders are themselves victims of sexual abuse. As this study proposes, a sympathetic approach may rehabilitate more young male sex offenders, thus reducing the number who go on to become adult sex offenders. The aim non-confrontational therapy is not to protect youthful sex offenders from punishment, but rather to help them heal their wounds and make a commitment to recovery. Any method that helps in this regard should be welcomed by feminist therapists.
       In the case of adult sex offenders, five respondents (28%) agreed with the statement, "offender issues should be dealt with first." Of the five, two checked all the answers, "offender issues first," "abuse issues first," "simultaneous," and "flexible." Two others indicated that they work within the correctional framework that supports owning up, and the fifth was the feminist counselor mentioned above.
       If these findings could be generalized, it would seem that support for the anti-sympathetic, "offender issues first" philosophy has its strongest support among correctional-based therapists and feminists. This would be an interesting finding, since professionals in the corrections field give the impression that "offender issues first" is the only acceptable approach. Obviously, not all therapists agree.
       A byproduct of the owning up model is behavioral therapists' promotion of aversion therapy and penile plethysmograph assessment as the ultimate cure, even for juveniles. In fact, these techniques are used in Washington state, and there is a growing movement to bring more aversion therapy into juvenile treatment. Not all therapists support aversion therapy, as the data in this study shows. In fact, supporters may be a minority of therapists in the overall field of psychology.
       Some therapists consider it a mistake to introduce aversion therapy for general use with juveniles, since it is painful and embarrassing. It could be argued that the procedure itself simply adds to the abuse the juvenile has already suffered. Adolescents are in a transitional period, where their attitudes about sexuality are being formed. The penile plethysmograph apparatus, coupled with vile slide shows and audio suggestions—not to mention sniffing ammonia fumes or receiving mild electric shocks—could easily destroy an adolescent's ability to form normal attitudes about their own sexuality.

Who Supports Aversion Therapy?

       Ten respondents (67%) said they approved of aversion therapy for adults (see Figure 3). This is more than half, but does not constitute a substantial majority. The respondents who chose this answer were spread across the spectrum of education levels, types of clients, and private or agency employment. Thus, if these results could be generalized, it appears that a majority of practitioners in the field of psychology approve of aversion therapy for adults.
       Of the ten, six also approved of aversion therapy for juveniles. However, three qualified their answers with write-in comments like, "Depends on situation" and "Case by case basis." Only three respondents made no comment when they said they approve of aversion therapy for juveniles.
       Surprisingly, though, seven of the ten respondents said they thought art therapy could be useful in treating juvenile and adult sex offenders. Since art therapy is generally non-confrontational and client-centered, this seems to indicate that the two schools can work together and share ideas for sex offender treatment.
       Overall, the respondents were supportive of flexible, sympathetic treatment. These findings are significant, since they challenge the status quo of sex offender treatment. If the sample of therapists who took part in this study represent the general population of therapists, then there is more support for sympathetic offender treatment than those in the correctional field assume.

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