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Literature Discussion -


The Psychosocial Impacts of the "Beyond Scared Straight" Program

By Dr.Claude Shema R.


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The Psychosocial Impacts of Beyond Scared Straight show


The developmental psychology of human beings, especially in youth, has been a challenge for parents and society at large. Some youth become uncontrollable and troublemakers to both society and parents. They are likely lose their childhood and have no bright future at all. In order to find an effective and quick solution for a positive change for that issue, some parents with difficult kids have joined the “Beyond Scared Straight” Program in an attempt to correct those fallen angels! The Beyond Scared Straight Program has been initiated in some states in the USA since 1978 and airs now on Thursdays and Fridays on A&E reality TV. It has received mixed perceptions, as a good and failure approach for the future of the youth exposed to it. The Program is aimed the youth with potential negative paths, to discipline them, reveal the truth behind their behaviors: being locked up and losing some of their actual rights or hobbies like partying, fashions, foods, and full liberty in general.

  To better satisfy my curiosity after watching this show couple of times,especially the previous one on Thursday January 12th 2012, I shared the same feelings and reactions with  different audiences and parents, as good on one side and bad and negative on the other hand. I am convinced that the results actually depend on the variety of individual personality of each teenager, since the theory of personality comprises a broad conception of human nature ( Cervone & Pervin, 2010).The best way to understand the impact of the Beyond Scared Straight Program, is to see it through the Freudian psychodynamic theory lenses, or the view of a person who would help to unpeel some layers of doubt and curiosity in this situation.

One of my biggest concerns was not whether it works or not, but the exposure impact as potential trauma and how it is being dealt with. The point here is that the at-risk young offenders are exposed to an extreme fear and terrorizing event, possibly even torture, and they may have never been exposed to this prior to the Program. Doubtlessly, such impact must be devastating in the future. Nevertheless, a slight change and positive impact has been claimed, according to parents, youth and Program organizers. This also can be associated with the Pavlovian classical conditioning theory (Pavlov, I.P. 1927/1960), and social learning conditions, and the individual responding context. In my opinion, some fundamental questions have to be examined:

1)     Individual psychological past (any possible antecedent linked to the actual behaviors)

2)     Individual upbringing ( peer pressure, social issues at home, financial abuse, etc.)

3)     Pathological path

4)     Other possible root-causes of such unwanted behaviors




1.Reclaiming Futures, by  Laura Burney Nissen, M.S.W., Ph.D. Http:// Retrieved January 10, 2012

2.    Retrieved January 10, 2012

3.Personality: Theory and Research, 11th Edition, Cervone, Daniel,  Pervin, John Wiley & Sons,2011

4. Davison, Gerald C. (2008). Abnormal Psychology. Toronto: Veronica Visentin. pp. 50. ISBN 978-0-470-84072-6.

5. Pavlov, I.P. (1927/1960). Conditional Reflexes. New York: Dover Publications (the 1960 edition is not an unaltered republication of the 1927 translation by Oxford University Press

6. Heth, C. Donald. "Chapter 7." Psychology: the Science of Behaviour. By Neil R. Carlson. 4th ed. Toronto: Pearson, 2009. 201. Print.

7. Carlson, Heth, Neil R. , C. Donald (2007). Psychology the Science of Behavious. New Jersey, USA: Pearson. pp. 700. ISBN 978-0-205-64524-4.

8. Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman; Vol. 1, Chapter 1. Iv



Dr.Claude Shema R.
 Author-"Peace of mind,Reflect,smile and laugh"
ISBN# 978-0-557-67303-2
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