At-Risk Kids Aren’t "Throw Away" Kids. Lives Can Turn Around When Basic Life Skills are Taught

ARISE, a non-profit organization, provides life skills and staff training to troubled youth and the adults who care for them.
March 3, 2011 - PRLog -- For almost 25 years, we have worked to reduce juvenile recidivism and have assisted at- risk youth to become productive, well-adjusted, law abiding adults. Through our life-skills lessons for teens,  incarcerated and at-risk youth are helped to build self-esteem, control anger, discover the personal and financial value of education, learn how to maintain their health, make better decisions, communicate effectively and to choose better relationships.

The lessons are designed to show participants that actions have consequences – and to make clear the specific consequences of the individual choices they have made. Participants are taught how to identify with those they wish to harm (due to anger, frustration, bullying or any other catalyst), how to place themselves emotionally in the shoes of others.

The ARISE curricula is easily replicable in all manner of settings designed to help young people find positive, productive paths and are just as easily adaptable to the specific requirements of various programs with that goal.  Turnkey personnel … school counselors … social workers … clergy … neighborhood associations … Boys and Girls Clubs … PAL clubs … and even nuclear and extended families are able to use ARISE tools and training to – as the old song goes – “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative” to turn these kids around.

Many – in fact, most – of the trained professionals who use ARISE curricula with the youth they serve become effective, caring mentors to their kids, establishing relationships that nurture, support and last far into adulthood.  For many of these kids, the professionals using ARISE curricula are the first and only adults in their young lives who truly believe they can change and offer them the tools and support to do so.

Jane Wilson – a tutor, literary coach and life skills instructor – wrote a paper while she was a Senior at Stanford University (2007) entitled, “Reducing Juvenile Recidivism in the United States.”  In it, she notes that the most effective programs in reducing recidivism are those that are respectful of the youth, help them develop empathy, and teach them interpersonal skills such as anger management and conflict resolution.  That’s the ARISE curricula in a nutshell.

Through its anger management curriculum, the ARISE program teaches youth to make better choices in managing overwhelming feelings, enabling at-risk youth, through interactive group sessions conducted by a trained facilitator, to identify with the feelings of others and to express empathy and consideration.  Troubled youth and shown how to effectively resolve conflicts without being swamped by anger and/or resorting to violence.  

They learn that they, alone, are responsible for their actions, not anyone else.
ARISE staff training (Visit to view upcoming ARISE Life Skills Training opportunities) incorporates over 100 lessons and interactive sessions covering more than 260 specific topics, teaching professionals who work with at-risk youth how to listen reflectively and to show empathy towards rebellious and defiant kids.  Trainees are led to recall instances when they were in situations where they didn’t handle anger or intense emotions well, leaving them filled with guilt and remorse.  At the end of the day, the trainees understand that empathy and kindness generate positive ooprc results where judgmental punishment does not. The end product of such ARISE training is that staff become inspired, dynamic mentors, able to encourage and manage troubled youth in a positive, encouraging environment.

The emphasis in all ARISE training for professionals and families is on empathy and reinforcement of appropriate behavior, with a steady focus on positives, not negatives. By respecting and validating the at-risk youths under their guidance, everyone benefits: the youth, coworkers, the community, family members – everyone.  This is accomplished by not offering unsolicited advice, sermons, lectures or negative put-downs but, instead, providing an empathetic, nurturing focus on the positive. Ultimately, the ARISE staff training programs and ARISE life skills curricula send professionals and families out to create an environment where empathy and respect are the norm, not the exception.

The latest research conducted by Dr. Kristin Winokur of the Justice Research Center (2010), concluded that youth in facilities using the ARISE life-skills program, in which the staff had the appropriate ARISE training, did better in terms of recidivism than the comparison site.  The difference was slight, but it was a step in the right direction and much was learned about how to strengthen and improve the training.

In the Empathy subset of the Teen Conflict Survey – which measures the ability to listen, care and trust others (developed by Boswoth and Espelage, 1998) – the youth and staff getting ARISE programs demonstrated significant improvement in empathy attitudes, while results for the control site not getting the ARISE program declined. The staff at the ARISE program treatment site also demonstrated statistically significant higher scores on the Empathy Index as compared to their pre-surveys.

It appears that the first step in reducing recidivism is to change the culture in juvenile justice to an atmosphere where staff is respectful of the youth and coworkers, demonstrating empathy and providing cognitive and behavioral skills training such as anger management and conflict resolution.

For more information about how and why ARISE techniques, work so well visit to read Evidence-Based Reports and Evaluations.

With your tax-deductible donation, ARISE can turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones for the toughest kids on the planet.  ARISE is a 501c3 charitable organization, so your contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Your support is greatly needed and appreciated.  Visit to donate.

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Provide valuable ARISE life skills and staff training to at-risk youth and the adults who care for them. We enable youth to achieve their highest potential as law-abiding citizens through ARISE group sessions conducted by well trained, ARISE facilitators.
Source:Edmund F. Benson, ARISE Founder
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Tags:At-risk Youth, Troubled Youth, Gang Prevention, Available In Spanish, Pregnancy Prevention & Awareness, Anger Management
Industry:At-risk youth
Location:North Palm Beach - Florida - United States
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