Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth

Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-08-17
Unit 1Slide Deck: Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth
Unit 2Transcript: Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth
Unit 3Workbook: Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth
Unit 4Recording: Risk Assessment Tools for Legally Involved Youth

Transitional age brain happens between the age of 13 to 25 years old where there’s a mismatch between the areas of the brain involved in emotions and pleasure and the region that regulate executive functions. With this in mind, it is critical to consider the effect of transitional age brain when understanding youth particularly those that end up legally involved as a consequence of their decisions and behaviors.

Sandra Antoniak is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to discuss violence and sexual offending risk assessment for juveniles. Sandra is a Certified Correctional Health Provider – Physician through the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and a triple diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She’s worked as Criminalist for the Missouri State Highway Patrol before earning a Master of Forensic Science degree, attending the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and completing residencies in Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry.

Her discussion covered:

  • The concept of transitional age brain which impacts how we process information, control impulses and emotions, resist environmental coercion, and increases risk-taking behavior and incidence of violence.
  • The concept of perilous adolescence characterized by separating from caregivers and aligning with peers in an effort to establish one’s sense of self.
  • Risk Assessments: The youth referred to it, the professionals that administer it, when and why assessments are commonly conducted, and what it can and cannot do.
  • The risk factors that influence the likelihood of youth becoming engaged in the juvenile justice system and the protective factors that keep them away from it.
  • The primary models of risk assessments and their differences based on how these evaluate the individual being assessed.
  • An overview of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY), a type of the Structured Professional Judgement model.
    • The population it is intended to be used with, the items taken into account, and the flexibility of the model to consider other factors.
    • A glimpse into the scoring system and the result reporting.
    • A case example where SAVRY was used to assess the violence risk of a juvenile subject.
  • Facts and figures demonstrating the prevalence of sexual offending among youth particularly cases of rape and dating violence.
  • What a sexual violence risk assessment is, the time limits for assessment in terms of when re-assessment should be done and the ages it is only applicable, and the goal of the assessment.
  • A run-through of the sexually-focused risk factors segmented based on the strength of empirical support.
  • A brief look into some of the commonly used assessments, the criticisms for these, and the important role of ACEs in understanding the probability of sexual offending.
  • The rise of a new paradigm in sexual violence risk assessments that is developmentally informed and considers gender, socially contextual risks, and protective factors.
  • Case studies demonstrating how assessment tools were used to consider myriad factors to gauge the risk for physical violence and sexual offending and decide the outcomes of the troubled individuals.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • Definition of terms.
  • Evaluating resilience in youth and its similarity to grit.
  • Assessment tools for callous and unemotional traits and juveniles who participate in grand larceny or arson.
  • The frequency of reassessing for risk of violence and sexual offending.
  • The limits of the tool based on the age and gender of the person being assessed.
  • Perpetrators that were victims themselves.



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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “I work in an adult incarcerated facility so the information on youthful offenders and risk assessments did pique my interest. Helping this population early on may prevent future incarceration. The research and information seemed applicable to my current position and practice.” — Vincent
  • “Great resources for the different assessment tools and details as to what each tool is used for / evaluating and its limitations. Great presentation!” — Christin
  • “The different risk assessment tools and what their validity is based on in applying that to how you use the appropriateness of them. Thank you for providing this information today.” — Tish
  • “Sandra is, without a doubt, the most knowledgeable professional I’ve encountered who has spoken regarding this topic. I feel like I have a better understanding of what goes into risk assessments than before. Thanks, Sandra!” — Samuel
  • “Excellent speaker, excellent material.” 🙂 — Nathalie
  • I work in child welfare and I found the topic interesting and informative. — Regina
  • Excellent speaker and information. A plus. — Robert
  • “I appreciate case studies so we can see how things are used in the “real world.” — Kathryn


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