The effectiveness of social skills training (SST) for juvenile delinquents: a meta-analytical review

Trudy van der Stouwe*, Jeanne Gubbels, Yvonne L. Castenmiller, Marion van der Zouwen, Jessica J. Asscher, Machteld Hoeve, Peter H. van der Laan, Geert Jan J.M. Stams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To examine the effectiveness of social skills training (SST) for juvenile offenders and for whom and under which conditions SSTs are the most effective.

Methods: Multilevel meta-analyses were conducted to examine the effectiveness of juvenile offender SST compared to no/placebo treatment and alternative treatment on offending, externalizing problems, social skills, and internalizing problems.

Results: Beneficial effects were only found for offending and social skills compared to no/placebo treatment. Compared to alternative treatment, small effects on only reoffending were found. Moderator analyses yielded larger effects on offending, with larger post-treatment effects on social skills. Effects on externalizing behavior were only reported in the USA, and effects on social skills were larger when the outcomes were reported through self-report.

Conclusions: SST may be a too generic treatment approach to reduce juvenile delinquency, because dynamic risk factors for juvenile offending are only partially targeted in SST.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-396
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Effectiveness
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Multilevel meta-analysis
  • Social skills training


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