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Reducing Gang Violence: A Randomized Trial of Functional Family Therapy

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2018
14 pages
This study evaluated a modification of Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a model program from the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, in order to assess its effectiveness in reducing gang membership and delinquency in a gang-involved population.
The evaluation found that the FFT intervention was implemented with fidelity to the FFT model and was effective in reducing recidivism among a sample of randomly assigned adjudicated youth from a single courtroom in the Philadelphia Juvenile and Family Court. The treatment group was compared to a control "treatment as usual" condition that involved probation and referral to an alternative Family Therapy Treatment Program (FTTP). The FTTP was approximately the same intensity and duration as FFT, but had no formal manual and had not undergone rigorous evaluation. The positive impact of FFT was maintained and even increased during the 12 methods following treatment completion. The intervention was most effective in reducing delinquency and substance use among the sub-group that was at highest risk for gang involvement. The FFT is a brief and widely disseminated evidence-based program (EBP) for youth presenting with problem behaviors, including delinquency and drug and alcohol abuse. FFT typically involves 12-15 face-to-face sessions of approximately 1 hour, during which trained therapists work with a youth and his/her caregivers, usually in a home setting. The program is delivered over a 3-month period. No study to date has focused on the effectiveness of FFT for gang-involved youth or those at risk of becoming gang members. Study setting, participants, and methodology are described. 20 references

Date Published: June 1, 2018