Program Goals/Target Population
Equipping Youth to Help One Another (EQUIP) is a multicomponent treatment program that seeks to establish a “climate for change” where youth can turn antisocial and self-destructive behavior into positive behavior that helps them and others around them. This is done by teaching antisocial youth problem-solving and helping skills, anger management and social skills training, and moral education.
The intervention applies to male juveniles 15 to 18 years of age who are in correctional institutions for less serious felonies (e.g. breaking and entering, burglary) and violations of parole.
Program Activities/Program Theory
Research suggests that delinquent youth are often lacking social skills and proper moral judgment, and suffering from development delays. EQUIP combines elements from two other programs, Positive Peer Culture (PPC) and Aggression Replacement Training (ART), to address these issues. The group aspect of PPC programs—which has reportedly been shown to make youths more amenable to treatment and therapeutic change—is modified and supplemented with the curriculum and training of ART programs, with the result being EQUIP. Curriculum sessions, or “equipment meetings,” occur daily for a period of 1 hour to 90 minutes. These meetings are small, youth-run treatment groups with adult supervision. During meetings, each juvenile in the group discusses a recurring personal problem. The group and supervisor then use role-modeling, imitating, feedback, and practice procedures to help the group members develop social skills.
As mentioned, EQUIP incorporates curriculum from ART, where emphasis is on moral education in an attempt to help youth reach age-appropriate moral reasoning and social skills. This process aims to move youth away from appeals to physical power to sound moral reasoning. Youth are also taught anger-management strategies that cover cognitive–behavioral skills, such as self-monitoring of emotions and thoughts, thinking ahead, and self-evaluation. At the end of the equipment meeting, the group “awards” the meeting to a particular group member for discussing and working through his problem.
15 to 18
Social Skills and Moral Judgment
Leeman, Gibbs, and Fuller (1993) found that overall the experimental group, those receiving EQUIP (Equipping Youth to Help One Another), demonstrated large gains in social skills compared to the control groups. The change score correlations for EQUIP boys were highly significant compared to control boys. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) results show that the experimental group gains were significantly greater than the control groups, and that the control groups’ scores did not differ from one another. Both of the control groups had deficit levels of social skill functioning.
ANCOVA results show significant positive outcomes for EQUIP boys compared to control boys with regard to misconduct. Both staff records and self-report surveys show significantly lower levels of misconduct and less unexcused school absences for the experimental group than for either of the control groups.
The EQUIP group was less likely to recidivate than either of the control groups. At 6 months, there was no discernable difference between groups, but at 12 months, the EQUIP group’s rate of recidivism had stayed the same, whereas the control groups’ rates of recidivism had escalated. This represented a significant difference. Specifically, 15 percent of EQUIP boys had recidivated, while 40.5 percent of control boys had recidivated 12 months after release.