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Behavioural Intervention Strategies for Youth Justice

Course Code: YJWD 1200
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Youth Justice
Credits: 1.5
Semester: 10 (course compressed to allow for block
Learning Format: Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

Methods of Instruction

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

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.

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.

course prerequisites

YJWD 100 or YJWD 1100 (concurrent) or Department Permission


YJWD 1100

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.