Effects of the EQUIP peer intervention program on self-serving cognitive distortions and recidivism among delinquent male adolescents
EQUIP is a multicomponent peer-helping program that aims to reduce recidivism among delinquent adolescents by decreasing their cognitive distortions, improving their social skills and stimulating their moral development. In an earlier study in a high-security juvenile correctional facility
in the Netherlands, the EQUIP program was found to have positive effects on reducing cognitive distortions in delinquent male adolescents. In this quasi-experimental pre/post-treatment test study, the effects of the EQUIP program on recidivism and on cognitive distortions in relation to recidivism
were investigated. Participants were recruited from four comparable high-security juvenile correctional facilities for offenders between the ages of 12 and 18 years. One of these facilities implemented the EQUIP program (n=49); the other three facilities provided the control group (n=28).
As expected, the experimental group showed a greater reduction in cognitive distortions (egocentric bias, minimizing/mislabeling and blaming others) than the control group. However, no differences were found in speed or seriousness of reoffending between the adolescents in the experimental
group and those in the control group. The number of repeat offenses in the experimental group was smaller than in the control group. It is concluded that although in this intervention EQUIP reduced juvenile delinquents’ cognitive distortions, the effect did not seem powerful enough to
affect the speed and seriousness of recidivism. The lower number of repeat offenses in the EQUIP group is discussed.