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Working with complex problem behaviors in juvenile institutional care: staff's competence, organizational conditions and public value

Lia Ahonen (Dr Lia Ahonen and Dr Jürgen Degner, both are based at School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.)
Jürgen Degner (Dr Lia Ahonen and Dr Jürgen Degner, both are based at School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 9 December 2014

Abstract

Purpose

Institutional staff encounter juveniles with complex problems (externalizing and internalizing) which calls for adequate formal education/training and professional experience to deliver quality treatment, contributing to an effective organization and increasing public value. The purpose of this paper is to investigate staff's formal education, professional experience and the institutions’ organizational strategies providing knowledge and clinical training to staff.

Design/methodology/approach

The study includes staff questionnaires from eight wards (n=102). In addition, 39 in-depth interviews were conducted with management and staff members.

Findings

Results show that institutions lack clearly defined target groups, 70 percent of staff members lack college education, 30 percent has never been offered education within the organization, and the vast majority of staff does not feel competent in performing their daily work.

Practical implications

The results from this study shed light on an overlooked area in institutions, detention centers and prison settings, and are important to policy makers and governmental organizations responsible for coercive care of juveniles.

Originality/value

Unlike previous studies, treatment and detention organizations are emphasized as similar to manufacturing industry and profit organizations, and the results are discussed with departure in organizational theory.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Swedish National Board of Institutional Care for providing financial support and to Lars Oscarsson for supervising the project.

Citation

Ahonen, L. and Degner, J. (2014), "Working with complex problem behaviors in juvenile institutional care: staff's competence, organizational conditions and public value", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 239-251. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-04-2013-0018

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited