I do believe in science. I believe in evidence based clinical practices for the treatment of juveniles who exhibit sexually aggressive behaviors. The problem is there is not a lot of evidence one way or the other on how to work with these kids. Each and everyone one of us in the field is a type of pioneer, trying to help our clients and keep the community safe at the same time.
A lot of what we do is trickle down from the adult field. If it works for adults, we shift it towards juveniles. There is growing evidence to suggest that this is wrong-headed. We should be doing things for juveniles, not trickle down. In other words, just like economies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economicstrickle down tactics just do not work.
Today I spent about two hours arguing against trickle down tactics. We are talking about additional funding in the unit, and the idea of polygraphs came up again. In my field, post conviction polygraphy is an acceptable management tool for adults–so why not apply it to kids?
If Juvenile Sex Offenders are just Mini Adult Sex Offenders, then there is no problem with this line of thinking. Recent research STRONGLY SUGGESTS that this way of thinking is out-moded and inaccurate. We want this tool to work with “higher risk youth” and “to add another tool to our arsenal.” We also may be getting money, and with polygraph, we’d have a fancy machine that adds credibility to the program.
I am unaware of any serious evidence that says we should adapt our program to use polygraphs. What we need to do is strengthen our curriculum and evaluation protocols. That will go much farther than putting a kid on a lie detector test.