Behavioural Intervention Strategies for Youth Justice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
YJWD 1200
Behavioural Intervention Strategies for Youth Justice
Youth Justice
Applied Community Studies
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
10 (course compressed to allow for block
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
3 hours per week
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

This course may be team taught in order to draw on the expertise of various faculty to meet course objectives.

This course will employ a number of instructional methods to meet course objectives, which may include:

  • Lectures
  • Audio-visual material
  • Group work
  • Case studies
  • Guest lectures
  • Seminars
  • Presentations


Course Description
This course will focus on strategies to assist youth justice clients to learn or increase pro-social behaviours and decrease anti-social or otherwise problematic behaviours. The course will use principles from applied operant conditioning giving particular attention to the use of cognitive-behavioural interventions. Emphasis will be placed on teaching students to build on client strengths while reinforcing desirable behavioural approximations.
Course Content

 The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  1. Principles of reality therapy  and their application to youth justice:
    • Basic human needs
    • Concept of personal responsibility
    • Work in the present and towards the future
    • Evaluate behaviour to be right/wrong, helpful/non-helpful
    • Plan for success
    • Eliminate punishment
  2. Principles of behaviour modification and their application to youth justice:
    • Defining target behaviours
    • Methods of measuring and recording data
    • Obtaining a baseline
    • Increasing behaviour through:
      • Positive reinforcement
      • Negative reinforcement
      • Discontinuing a procedure which is suppressing the behaviour
    • Decreasing behaviour through:
      • Extinction
      • Differential reinforcement procedures (DRI,DRO,DRL)
      • Time-out
      • Punishment
    • Shaping
    • Chaining
    • Discrimination training
    • Generalization
    • Token economy programs
  3. Cognitive-behavioural intervention programs:
    • Errors in thinking
    • Social skills training
    • Self-control and self-instruction
    • Anger control
    • Role taking
    • Social problem solving
    • Moral reasoning development

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Discuss that human behaviour is meaningful and constitutes an attempt on the part of the client to communicate.
  2. Describe how behavioural intervention programs constitute one component of what needs to be a well thought out and comprehensive approach to meeting any client’s needs.
  3. Recognize that new behaviours frequently need to be shaped through the reinforcement of successive approximations.
  4. Describe how new behaviours once achieved will only be maintained if they are supported and reinforced in the client’s environment.              
  5. Demonstrate the ability to set clear, measurable and obtainable goals in a behavioural intervention program and to specify how those goals will be reached and maintained.
  6. Discuss that the use of punishment in an attempt to control behaviour has a negative impact on the relationship between the helper and the client as well as on the client’s self esteem.
  7. Describe how in addition to being ineffective over time, punishment also constitutes poor modelling for the client as to how to relate to others.
  8. Discuss how any behavioural intervention program must take into account both the individual development of the client and his or her culture.
  9. Describe how practice the ethic that any behavioural intervention program must ultimately benefit the client and his or her important systems and must not be for the convenience of the system in which the client resides.
  10. Describe how effective behavioural interventions are done with, not to, the client in the context of a healthy and respectful relationship.


Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations.

For example:

  • attendance and participation
  • reports
  • position/philosophy papers
  • exams

no single element will be weighted at more than 40% of the final grade.

Textbook Materials

  • COGNITIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY by Marshall Published by Harcourt and Brace, 1997. (or equivalent)


YJWD 100 or YJWD 1100 (concurrent) or Department Permission