Giving Compass’ Take:
• Harold Pollack and Jens Ludwig explain how getting teens therapy in response to violent outbursts can set them on the right track and steer them away from a life of crime.
• How can philanthropy help scale access to therapy for troubled teens?
• Learn how Detroit is building a restorative justice program.
The fight was over a pair of gym shoes. One teenager faces years in prison. The other — the 15-year-old grandson of Congressman Danny Davis — is dead.
We often hear stories about murders sparked by trivial disputes. And we also hear the same solutions proposed year after year: harsher punishments, more gun control.
But what if science can help us find new solutions? Can understanding how we make decisions help us prevent these tragedies?
In moments of anger, it can be hard to heed the advice to take a deep breath or count to ten. But public health researcher Harold Pollack says that, “regret comes almost as fast as anger,” and that five minutes of reflection can make all the difference between a regular life and one behind bars.
I’m an economist by training and the way that I think about whether a social program is worth doing or not is I think about what the program costs and then I think about what it does to help kids and society as a whole and whether the value of the social impact is enough to justify the program cost. And a 44 percent reduction in violence involvement for at-risk kids for one year generates benefits to society that easily outweigh the program costs. So we’ve estimated that the benefit-cost ratio might be as high as 30-1 for this intervention.
Read the full interview about therapy to address teen violence with Harold Pollack and Jens Ludwig by Shankar Vedantam at WFAE.
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