Agree To Disagree

There seems to be a lot of debate on the effectiveness of the program.  There is no straight right or wrong answer.  Everyone seems to have their own reasons/perspectives on why the program works/fails.  Based on the information that I have come across, this is what it boils down to:

For the program: Teachers, parents, police officers, prison/jail wardens, school guidance counselors, teens who went through the program or knew someone who went through it

Against the program: Academia, researchers, government officials, juvenile advocacy groups

A blog dedicated to helping parents improve their parenting skills talks about the scared straight program.  In the blog, they are not for nor against the program.  It simply states the facts that have been presented for both sides and asks the parents to weigh their options and make an informed and thoughtful decision.

Arnold Shapiro has stated many times that the program should be used as a last resort.  In an interview with Youth Today, Shapiro spoke about his take on the effectiveness of the program.  He believes the program does in fact work based on the follow-up results from his Scared Straight! documentary and based on the fact that so many teachers, parents and counselors eagerly continue to utilize the program.

No matter which blog site or forum you are on, the same inconsistency appears; half of the public seem to praise the program while the other half condemn anyone who uses it.  But who is right?  What matters more: public opinion or statistics?  What measures should be used to assess the effectiveness of a program?  If a study proclaims fail but someone has personally seen it work, does that mean the program is still an epic fail?  Some believe deterring at least one teen is worth the effort while others believe people should focus on all those teens that the program didn’t work on.  Will this issue ever be settled?

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