- Fear is the key: keeping the balance between flexibility and control in a Dutch youth prison
- Journal of Children’s Services
- Volume | Issue number
- 6 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Purpose - This study seeks to examine the education, safety, and professional attitudes of group workers in a Dutch youth prison and to analyse their perceptions of the organisational culture and leadership by line management. To achieve therapeutic goals, group workers must maintain a balance between flexibility and control.
Design/methodology/approach - A total of 59 group workers (40 per cent male and 60 per cent female) randomly chosen from eight living groups (141 group workers) were interviewed and completed questionnaires.
Findings - It was found that some interactions between group workers and prisoners created fear, suspicion, and violence, and that staff varied in their behavioural responses to perceived safety risks and disorder. "Transformational" leadership by management was associated with less fear, more flexibility, and less control; factors necessary to create a rehabilitative group climate.
Originality/value - The findings of this study inform the treatment of young offenders in secure correctional facilities.
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