Explain the role of Social group work in correctional settings.

Social group work in correctional settings.

Group work with delinquents and criminals is often seen as a powerful technique for modifying behaviour and attitudes. Although demanding and sometimes complex, group work is based on some rather simple and well supported observations about how people grow and interact. Social group work is a method of rendering service to persons, through providing experience in groups.

Development of the person towards his individual potential, improvement of relationship and social functioning competencies, and social action are recognized as purposes of social group work. The worker functions within a framework of ethical and social values. In social group work, the worker helps member and group to use their abilities and strengths. The worker uses himself in different ways in relation to specific objectives. The group member and the group are inextricably interrelated and the condition of each is bound to affect the other.

There can be three main reasons for the use of the group in treatment of the delinquent and the criminal:

  • First, the dynamics of the offender himself.
  • Second, the specific correctional setting in which he finds himself.
  • Thirdly, the specific purpose for which society has put him into the correctional setting.

There is a phenomenon appearing in the delinquent, which shows that one of his outstanding identification’s well as support is the group. This phenomenon is certainly closely related to the age of most of the delinquents, since all adolescents seek their status far more in the group of contemporaries through closeness with adults.

The use of the group work method becomes, therefore, essential because the delinquents can of ten-not be reached otherwise. He must be approached in his own group with the security of the surrounding other delinquents. The purpose and goals of the group related to this understanding are many:

The strengthening of the security of the offender in the framework of the group, so that he does not feel alone and helpless, but also moves towards not being wholly dependent on it.

The strengthening of the offender’s independence by helping him to actually participate in group discussions, not to submit to a gang leader or a powerful sub-group.

The introduction of an adult, who represents the values of a society they often reject, but who, because of his accepting attitude, represents adult security and love. The delinquent can meet this adult in a group, while still feeling the support of his contemporaries and relating in different degrees of intensity. It also provides an opportunity of gaining satisfaction in the need for adventure and experimentation in various ways that are accepted by the society.

An opportunity to gain inner resilience and status within the group through accomplishment in activities accepted by the society.

In group work in correctional settings, the programme media should be varied. The group members must allow for outlet of hostility, and not reduce the group to unacceptable behaviour. Program should allow, at times, for the individual need of withdrawal by letting a group member do something for himself without feeling guilty that he does not participate, but help him feel accepted by presence in the group.

Besides the help with outlet of feelings, a programme should include the opportunity for real achievement. It should strike a balance between more individual and more cooperative projects, according to the readiness of the group members. It must also allow for pure enjoyment and aesthetic satisfaction. In these days, the use of the group as a tool in correctional work has been recognized more and more. The guided group interaction technique can serve as a sort of spear-head around which many activities can be organized in an effort to get at the inner life of the person.

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