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Meta-analytic research evaluating the utility of violence risk assessment scales, including scales of juvenile sex offending, have found that in spite of differences among individual studies some scales have moderate predictive validity (Olver et al., 2009, Viljoen et al., 2012). Recognizing that these findings are not as robust as initially hoped, there has been a paradigm shift away from using risk assessment to “predict” new instances of violence toward a focus on preventing its reoccurrence (Kang et al., 2022; Viljoen et al., 2016).
The Youth Needs and Progress Scale (YNPS) (2020) was designed to help social service professionals objectively identify risk-relevant intervention needs among individuals aged 12 to 25 who have engaged in problematic, abusive, or otherwise illegal sexual behavior; and evaluate progress toward resolving those needs. Findings from the development and implementation project and feedback from subsequent training workshops and professionals who use the YNPS suggest that the YNPS appears to be a useful component of holistic clinical assessments by: (i) Providing structure to help identify empirically-informed, risk-relevant, intervention needs; (ii) Informing initial and subsequent case plans and treatment, and (iii) Identifying progress, or the lack thereof, and, thereby, facilitating effective interventions over time.


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  • Risk prediction problems and the need for a paradigm shift;
  • The importance of identifying dynamic intervention needs and progress toward addressing and ameliorating them;
    The development, implementation, and testing of a developmentally appropriate assessment scale for identifying relevant intervention targets, creating and delivering appropriate case plans, and evaluating client progress, i.e., the Youth Needs and Progress Scale.


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Sue Righthand, Ph.D.

Sue Righthand, Ph.D.

Clinical and Consulting Psychologist

Dr. Sue Righthand is a psychologist in independent practice. She has a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She has extensive experience working with youth and adults who have offended sexually, as well as individuals who have experienced or initiated child maltreatment and other forms of violence. Dr. Righthand is affiliated with the University of Maine where she is an Adjunct Associate Research Professor. Dr. Righthand’s recent collaborations include the development of the Youth Needs and Progress Scale and two books: Effective Intervention with Adolescents Who Have Offended Sexually: Translating Research into Practice and the Safer Society Handbook of Assessment and Treatment of Adolescents who have Sexually Offended. As a senior consultant, she contributed to the federally funded STARRSA project designed to address sexual misconduct by college students, and helped design treatment and supporting materials. She also co-authored the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol II and related research. Dr. Righthand is a consultant to the National Center for Sexual Behavior in Youth (NCSBY) and provides training, program evaluations, and consultations within the Unites States and in other countries.


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