Our work focuses on violence and offending, particularly with adolescents. We:
Develop and evaluate risk needs assessment tools for adolescents
Develop approaches to guide risk management and treatment planning
Help agencies implement evidence-based practices
Investigate strengths that protect adolescents
Mental health professionals are often asked to evaluate whether a person poses a risk for future violence. These risk assessments carry high stakes for public safety and defendants' liberty. To help guide these decisions, researchers have developed violence risk assessment tools.
In our lab, we test if these tools work. We also develop risk tools that are treatment-oriented, strength-based, and developmentally-informed.
Does the use of risk assessment tools reduce rates of violence? Does it minimize unnecessary use of incarceration? Or conversely, does it exacerbate racial and ethnic biases?
In our lab, we are studying these questions. We are also developing strategies, such as treatment planning tools, to help strengthen links between risk assessments and treatment.
Persons of color and other minorities experience biases and inequities in the justice system. In our lab, we are working to help create change. Many of these projects are led by graduate students.
For instance, Nicole Muir is a Metis/Anishawbe PhD student whose work focuses on culturally- informed practices for Indigenous youth. Melissa Jonnson is leading projects to better understand the experiences of sexual and gender minority youth within the justice system.
We value the opportunity to work with students from diverse backgrounds and students who have an interest in studying diversity.
Some of the most exciting research in our lab is conducted by graduate students.Catherine Shaffer, MA is studying dating violence in adolescents, including strategies to assess risk of violence. Nicole Muir, MA is examining the role of trauma in explaining offenses in youth who are Indigenous through using a culturally informed lens. Aisha Christiansen, MA is investigating factors that protect against offending and how to measure them. Melissa Jonnson, MA is exploring the issues faced by sexual and gender minority youth in the justice system. Dana Cochrane, BA Hon is studying the intersection between mental health and adolescent offending, with a focus on depression.
The Adolescent Risk Reduction and Resilient Outcomes Work-Plan (ARROW) is a risk management and intervention-planning tool for adolescents. It provides a structured template and resources for bridging risk assessments to evidence-based interventions.