The effect of employment on the behavior of boys in a residential treatment center

Scott Leon Cone, Fordham University


A growing body of literature has identified many negative correlates of employment in high school youth. Despite the potential detrimental impact of employment on youth, many treatment programs targeting youth with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) include work as a component of the treatment intervention. Given the current evidence regarding the potential detrimental impact of youth employment, yet its use as a component in interventions for youth, there is a need to assess the impact of work on the behavior of youth with EBD. Data gathered at a residential treatment center for boys from 5 to 17 years of age, were used to examine the impact of youth employment as a treatment intervention. Workers and nonworkers were compared on measures of behavior and academic performance. Differences, as a function of the quality of employment, the quantity of employment, and pre-employment differences, also were explored. Prior to employment, workers only differed from nonworkers on standardized reading scores. Following employment, improvements in problem behavior scores and standardized test scores were found for workers, but not for nonworkers. No differences were found regarding the quality of employment. The greatest number of hours worked per week, between 9 and 13 hours, was associated with the greatest decline in problem behavior. A curvilinear relationship with the number of weeks worked was found. Problem behavior declined for boys who worked between 1 and 78 weeks, then increased for boys who worked between 79 and 104 weeks. The results suggest that employment may hold some benefits for youth with EBD. Furthermore, the research on youth employment that targets high school students in the naturally occurring work force may not be generalizable to youth with EBD.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Cone, Scott Leon, "The effect of employment on the behavior of boys in a residential treatment center" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9816359.