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Kathryn Seifert

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New Tools to Assess the Risk of Violence
by Kathryn Seifert   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, June 07, 2009
Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009

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Assessing the ri9sk of violence adequately allows us to put intervention plans into place. This can prevent future violence. The CARE 2 and the RME are two such tools.

Recent homicides that fill the news have all of us questioning the safety our communities where those at risk for inappropriate and illegal behaviors reside. Officials wonder if it is acceptable to allow these individuals to live, unsupervised, in the city, and how the authorities can prevent them from harming others. The CARE 2 is a preventative solution to help answer these questions: a tool that can identify who is at risk and interventions needed to prevent future violence. The recent capture of a serial murderer who was on parole is a prime example.

It is imperative that we are able to determine who needs higher levels of structure and supervision. Clinical judgment is only right about future risk of violence about 52% of the time. Those who presently using clinical judgment to determine the future risk of violence that an individual poses to the community, are not using the most up to date assessments provided by science. Other risk assessments for youth include the SAVRY and the PCL-YV. Adult assessments include the VRAG and the PCL-R

 

The criminal justice system has become the place where a large proportion of our chronically mentally ill people—those who have been released from psychiatric hospitals without sufficient community supports—find themselves, so it's vital that health professionals know how to help. The author, Dr. kathryn Seifert, is also the author of How Children Become Violent: Keeping Your Kids Out of Gangs, Terrorist Organizations, and Cults (Acanthus Publishing 2007 and winner of a 2007 IPPY [Independent Book Publisher] Award).

The lack of funding for the community mental health movement has mental hospitals discharging patients with serious and persistent mental health issues, without sufficient resources in the community to take care of their needs. Some of these patients are dangerous to themselves and others if not mandated to treatment. The lack of mandated treatment options for this forensically involved population has left our communities vulnerable. Recent examples of the tragic results of unmandated treatment, such as Virginia Tech, abound.


 

In order to control this situation and give health professionals the resources they need to aid the small group of mentally ill persons with forensic and dangerousness issues, Dr. Seifert developed two assessments: the CARE 2(Chronic Violent Behavior Risk and Needs Assessment) and the RME (Risk Management Evaluation for Adults). These measures aim to evaluate the risk of violence in children and adults and to determine individuals’ treatment and intervention needs in order to reduce the risk of future violence.


 

The CARE 2 and RME measures also help professionals evaluate the risk that those who are dangerous pose to the community. They provide the information officials need to help prevent physical and sexual assaults. "Dangerousness is a separate issue from Mental illness. It is assessed differently, and in many cases there are interventions that can reduce the risk of future aggression or sexual offending.

These assessments were created specifically for situations where individuals pose a severe threat to the community. Authorities can use them to prevent future violence and to help community residents feel safer.

The majority of mentally ill people are not prone to violence. However, other background demographics (those who have been abused, neglected, or exposed to domestic violence in childhood, for example), in addition to untreated mental health and substance abuse problems, play a large part in the making of a violent individual. Mental health treatment is needed in the community, and we must make sure there is sufficient treatment for mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system.

Dr. Kathryn Seifert is a psychotherapist with over 30 years experience in mental health, addictions, and criminal justice work. Dr. Seifert has authored the CARE 2 and numerous articles. She speaks nationally on mental health related topics and youth violence. She is an expert witness in the areas of youth and adult violence and sexual offending. Her latest book is How Children Become Violent. For more information go to http://www.drkathyseifert.com

 



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