What is the RRN-program
The RRN-program is a Danish proposal for a first offender program. It is
designed to be used for both crimes and as an alternative to expulsion, suspension
and detention at school. It should be runned and supervised by the local
community (City Hall). Today most local communities in Denmark has a SSP co-operation
(School, social services and Police.) They could oversee this program.
The fundamental idea with the program is to show the child aged 10
to 15 that every rule break (the law or at the school) has a consequence.
Participation in the program should not figure in the criminal record and
should also be used, whenever the court today would let the child get
off with a warning.
Family participation is a requirement. The child should be kept in
his or her social network during punishment.
RRN stands for:
|Respect for authorities|
If the family deny support and participation in the program the local
authorities should put pressure on the family and remove all the children
from the family. Especially if they try to move the child out of the city.
Generally in order for the adolescent to enter the program, they must
have committed a crime. It could be violence, happy-slapping, theft, threats
(also via mobile phone), truancy, shop-lifting etc. The child can be
cleared of the truancy charge, if they parents by the intervention
presents a plan for the education of their child.
The child had to attend school if it wants to be considered for the
Why should Denmark have such a program?
Professionals, who are occupied with troubled youth, primarily the
police are telling stories about them arresting the same individual below the age of criminal
responsibility and have taken them home just to see that the parents let
them go out and play once again. Some hours later it is the same child
they are detaining.
It is obvious that those children, who are not confronted with their
deeds during a form for intervention, would be at risk for repeating their
actions. If they are caught up with their new role, it would be very hard
and expensive to put them back on the right path.
A placement outside the home cost between 20,000 - 200,000 DKR (2,800 -
28,000 dollars) per month per child depending of the level of treatment,
the child needs. It is very costly for the local authorities. By using
such a local based day-program some placements should be avoided in the
Another issue is missing education regardless if it is caused by either
the school (suspension or expulsion) or by the child itself (truancy). A
child should be kept to education. If the school finds that the child
endangers its classmates, they should ask for parental presence in the
classroom and during schooldays, so safety for the other persons in the
classroom can be ensured. It could be offered as an option to the program.
Family classes as they are called in Denmark, are one of those projects
with the highest success rate.
Last detention can be used, but in a form where the child can produce
quality in work. In Denmark we have built voluntary detention centers
(Homework cafes), where children - who are struggling with their homework
- can solve them in a cafe-similar environment. (Non-alcoholic, primarily
coffee and cocoa products with a high level of caffeine, which can
increase performance, are sold there). Teachers are also present and are
able to guide the children through their homework. This initiative are
seen as a try to break the social heritage, because we acknowledge that
not all children can get necessary aid from their parents. The detention
center used in connection with the RRN-program should look like the
The program consist of 3 parts:
|An intervention, which is a kind of trial but in a form so the child
understands, what is going on. |
|The serving of the sentence.|
|The follow-up period.|
To make the child understand, that those actions, the child has done,
has a consequence. A line should be drawn in the sand, which clearly
marks: "So far and not an inch further."
The school or the police produce evidence and sends it to the new youth
court. The family will be told the date of the trial. During this trial,
which is held in a hearing form with children aged 14-17 as counsel for the prosecution
and jurors, the evidence would be presented for the child in pedagogical
form. The trial is supervised a by judge and a lawyer, who has to see that
the rights of child is not violated.
Once the case has been processed, the jurors would be given instruction
by the judge about what he finds that the prosecution has proven. They are
free to vote otherwise, but their judgment can be set aside by the judge.
If they determine guilt, the child should be allowed to speak for mercy
before the jurors together with the judge determine the sentence. The
verdict should reflect a sentence given to an adult for a similar crime
but one month given to an adult should result in one week for child. The
discount should acknowledge that the brain of a child is not fully
developed and especially the fact that the brain center where long time
effects of a given action is one of the last to be developed.
However crimes, who for adults would have resulted in a fine, should be
converted to 2 or 3 weeks in the program.
The sentence would be written down on in a report. This report would be
given to the child after the follow-up period, which is 3 month after
A child, who is convicted would right after the conviction be given:
|A T-shirt with the RRN-logo and the name of the local authority (Should
be worn during school hours depending of the season)|
|A Sweatshirt with the RRN-logo and the name of the local authority (Should
be worn during school hours depending of the season)|
|A boiler suit/overall with the RRN-logo and the name of the local
authority (Should be worn outside school hours when participation in
|Headgear, if the religious belief of the child demands it. (Orange/yellow
cap, scarf, turban etc.)|
|A yellow security vest with RRN-logo, the word "Guard" and
the name of the local authority (Should be worn by the parent during
hikes and community service.)|
|A personal journal |
|A control form, where a staff member can sign for accomplished
|Manuals for both parent and child.|
|Overall for use during hot
periods in the summer.
||Vest for parents. The text
|T-shirt and sweatshirt for use
during school hours.
||Boiler suit for use before and
after school. The text reads "Sentence server"
Because the child would be eating breakfast during hours in the
program, the parents have to state, what they eat for breakfast and pay
100 dollars to cover these expenses. Families on welfare or with low
income can be excused for this expense. If the parent is not living in a
relationship, the authorities has to see to that that the siblings can be
taken care of either by arranging for a relative to help the siblings or
see to that a educated nanny or social worker helps the family during the
hours where the parents are with the child in the program.
The serving of the sentence:
Weekdays - morning:
The child and one parent have to check in between 5:00 and 5:30 on the
appoint place where the program takes place. It could be at one of the
local schools. The child should be dressed in the boiler suit and the
family should bring: school bag, clothes for school, water can and control
The school bag and homework would be checked and is everything in
order, the child would get a happy smiley noted in the form. If the
homework is not done (errors or poor work does count, you can only hold
people accountable if they have the skills, but everyone should at least
try.) the child would receive a negative smiley.
The water can must be empty and refilled on the facility. If the child
need sugar or salt in the water, the family should consult their family
doctor, who will prescribe an instruction on that. Next all goes for a
walk / hike lasting an hour. The pace depends on the slowest. The purpose
of the hike is to gather appetite for the breakfast and remove some of the
stress for the upcoming school day. Children suffering from ADHD etc. can
also benefit from exercise in the early hours of the day.
After the walk all joins together for breakfast. Breakfast are often
skipped in a lot of families due to stress and the result is children in
the school who are not concentrated because they have no energy. The
breakfast for the children has been purchased based on the forms they gave
after the intervention. For the adults there will be coffee, tea and
When the breakfast is over, the children are sent off to their normal
school and the parents to work.
During school hours:
Staff members from the program will periodically check up on the
children in the program in school. A check would last seconds by the staff
member looking into the classes. If he gets a OK-sign from the teacher,
then he is off the next class.
The teachers on the school are instructed to send a emails, fax. etc.
with a list of the homework, the child has to do.
Some children, who are either very unruly or have committed violence in
school, has to bring a relative into the classroom, who has to keep an eye on
the child all time. The relative has to interfere if the child
disrupts the classes and does also have to noted on a scale from 1-5 how
the child is doing during classes. 5 is best and if the average mark is 2
or lower the child gets a negative smiley at the end of the day.
Weekdays - afternoon:
The children are sent to the facility, where they has to stay and fix
their homework in a homework cafe. If they are done with their homework,
they are free to work on their journal.
Once the parents have arrived all goes for the second walk/hike of the
day, so they can get the stress coming from the school day out of their
system. It should make them more receptive for the afternoon program.
Depending of the weekday, the children receive 30 minutes of education
(Topic of the day) or 30 minutes of community service, which would be
picking up litter near the facility. If the children received education,
the parents get separated education in parenting.
The last thing on the agenda are a group conversation. Some days the
parents and children are separated. Some days 4-5 families are grouped
together. The subject could be what they have been sentenced for, how it
had influenced them and their family. It could also be about what
education of the topic of the day. Each day ends with the staff member
addressing each child asking what they think about the their performance
of the day. If it have been somehow overall positive (What matters is
identifying themselves with their problems, not whether they have been
happy or sad all day.).
of day plans:
|(During the school year)
filling of bottles, check of homework
for school, school
arrival, homework cafe
of the day (DT) or community service (ST)
conversation / therapy
Examples of the topic of the day could be:
|Consequences for victims of crimes (Victims of crimes lectures about
how their lives have been affected due to the crime they were exposed
|Which effect can a police record get (People from the human
relationship department in firms tells about which kind of job they
scan peoples police record for before offering them a job.)|
|Drugs and alcohol (What kind of damage could come from use of drugs
and alcohol. What is a normal relationship with alcohol (In Denmark
there are no lower limit for alcohol consumption.))|
|Traffic. Why is wearing helmet important? Car thefts and impacts
(Victims, people in wheelchairs as result of their accident tell their
Each child has to take each class just one time. Has the child taken a
specific class one time, it is assigned to community service or work on
his or her personal journal instead.
During the holiday periods the family are responsible to appoint
a relative (not necessary the one of the parents) over 18, who had to
attend and assist the staff to control the children.
The parents still have to attend group therapy and classes in the
filling of bottles
activity for the day.
of the day
conversation / therapy
relative, (f) parents
The activity of the day could be landscaping of a MTB/BMX-track,
removing graffiti or litter, fixing pavement in the schoolyard if it is
made of SF-flagstones. (Small flagstones formed like an S.). However one
day of the week should be set aside to a picnic with group therapy session
and relaxation (The group therapy session must not exceed 1,5 hour or it
would be at risk of developing itself into psychodrama according to Danish
filling of bottles, check of tools
service, removal of litter from a area or weeding in a park (ST)
for graduates: reading of the conclusion of the personal journal and
print-out of diplomas.
for graduates: reading of the conclusion of the personal journal and
print-out of diplomas.
The parent are instructed to be present all Saturday. If the
child are qualified to graduate, relatives can arrive at 11:30 and be
present during the ceremony.
A child is qualify for graduation, when it has completed:
- Have received education in topics and been through at least one family
- Have done the questions in the journal
- Have outlined what it has to work with in order to avoid getting into
the same situation again.
- Can show at least five days with two positive smiley's.
The children, who are graduating, will on Saturdays stay after either
family therapy or community service for a little ceremony. They will read
what they have written under item 11 from their journal in front of the
other graduates and their family. Then they will received a diploma and
can leave for home once all have completed the ceremony.
The follow-up period will last 3 months. The family will be contacted
by a staff-member periodically but it is up to the child whether they want
to speak to the staff member or not.
When the follow-up period almost over, the family will be called to a
meeting where the entire progress is evaluated. The child will be given
the paper with the sentence, so he or she can put it in a shredder as a
symbolic act, that proves that his or her record is clean.
The System A-Z
By illness or approved absence the sentence would be extended with
those days, where the child has been unable to attend the program. The
parents are ordered to call the doctor from the emergency service. who
will visit the child and confirm the illness. If the illness is faked, the
child will received a double negative smiley for the day.
Special conditions can result in days off. The family have to apply for
the specific dates. It could be reserved vacation, feasts in the family,
funerals etc. The sentence will be extended with the time, the child have
missed in the program.
If the parents are unable to bring to child to the program in the
morning due to defiance, they are ordered to order a wake-up team to come
to the house in order to help them getting their off-spring up. The
wake-up team would ask child nicely to get up. If the child respond
negatively, they will poor water on the child but avoid physical contact.
If the child try to run away or break curfew, they will be called to a
meeting, where it would be determined whether they should leave the
program and look into full-time placement outside the home or stay at a
night prison after dinner at home. They can also choose a challenge
(wilderness course or pilgrimage) in order to shorten their stay in the
The community service consist primarily of removing litter from a
public area (parks). Each family receives a trash can on wheel. The
parents job is to scan the garbage for glass and needles.
The curfew hours are 21:00 - 04:00 on weekdays and 22:00 on Saturdays.
The family can apply for a special curfew on a specific day if family gatherings
calls for it. If the child can not keep the curfew, sanctions will be
introduced. See under Sanctions.
The child has to do the personal journal on their own. Here are some
|1) Why were you put in the program|
|2) Describe the members in your family|
|3) Describe how each member of your family interacts with the other
members of the family, including yourself|
|4) How does your family relationship affect you|
|5) Give a brief history of your parents background|
|6) Where would you be in 5 years.|
|7) Where would you be in 10 years.|
|8) List 5 things, which you like about yourself|
|9) List 5 things, which you don't like about yourself|
|11) Make a short speech about what you have learned in the program
and how you will work with, so you don not end up in the same
|12) Make a house-contract with your parents about the rules in your
house during the follow-up period. Agree on consequences if the rules
The journal should follow the child during the program all time. It
will be used during group conversations and family therapy. Item 11 will
be read out during the graduation ceremony.
No such activity are allowed because the child needs rest to meet the
demands in the program.
3 negative smiley's means an extra day in the program. If the child
resist the program, it means that it has to serve about 50 percent extra
in the program. Some foreign programs operates with harsher sanctions, but
no child spend his or her entire adolescence in a program. They should
always be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Does the family not follow the program, it is the job of the social authorities
to see to that additional steps are done. It could end up in removal of
the children in the home (Not only the child in the program). However
placement outside the home is expensive. Cost are very easily starting
from about 2,800 per child per month.
If the problem is the child not keeping the curfew or the child running
away from the program, there are two options:
|Level one night detention:
||The child leaves for home after the program is
finished but have to return to the facility with bed linen before
21:00 and sleep in a cell-like environment.
|Level two night detention:
||The child stays at the facility and the family comes
into the facility and eats dinner and are escort to a cell-like
environment to spend the night. The family brings bed linen.
|First major rule break
||Minimum 2 nights before they can apply to sleep at
|Second and later major rule breaks
||Minimum 4 nights before they can apply to sleep at home
Please notice that the only kind of rule breaks that can result in
night detention is not keeping curfew, running away and committing new
crimes. All other issues are dealt with via the smiley system.
Basically the program functions with trust. Every time the child break
rules, a sanction is imposed. But then the trust has to be re-established
by the staff. The child must learn that it is itself, who is controlling
how fast it can leave the program.
Solving a conflict.
If the child refuse to take part in an activity, it is given an option
to timeout. Timeout means that it has to remove itself from the group and
go to a timeout room if the conflict takes place inside the facility. If
the child refuses, the group will move away and leave the child to the
parent and a staff-member. The timeout is one minute per year equal to the
age of the child. If the child during this timeout manages to cool itself
down and rejoin the activity it does not necessary mean a negative smiley.
It depends of how the child explains his or her action during the group
conversation, which every day ends with. In the field the child has to
remove itself 25 meters from the group.
However, if the child can not manage self-control, a meeting will be
held with the family and the child in order to find out whether the child
should consult the nearest psychiatric hospital, which in Denmark offers
anger-management courses. A full-health screening could also be the
Outside the school year the children are doing projects in the
community. It could be repair / renovation of play grounds, weeding of
green areas in the neighborhood.
The slowest child sets the pace. If a child refuse to walk, a doctor is
called just to see if there is a medical cause for the refusal for
walking. If that is not the case, the child receives a negative smiley.
The longest stay in the program is set to 52 weeks equal to
a prison term of 4 years and
4 months for an adult offender. Longer stay would put the child at risk
for PTSD, because adjusting to the world outside the program would become
to difficult. If the child has committed a crime, which would have meant a
prison term of more than about 4.5 years if the crime would have been
committed by an adult, residential treatment should be offered instead.
There should be factors of motivation build into the
program, so the child can choose to serve his or her sentence faster. Our prime minister
has often used the phase: "one good turn deserves another", so
in connection with the program, there should be build in challenges:
The challenges is something that the child can apply for.
And they should be state-run. They are intense challenges by nature, which
have resulted in deaths in United States, where especially the wilderness
option is very much used. Such challenges has to be voluntary and there
will be a "choose-out" option after 1 week. If a child chooses
to leave the challenge after a week, the original sentence would be
re-instated. Also the parent has to be present due to safety concern. Some
children has died in the wilderness because the staff misread symptoms of
illness as manipulation.
If the child takes a three week challenge where the child
and a parent isolate itself for three weeks from the society in order to
work intensive with his or her problems, the sentence will be cut short.
Challenges are only an option if the child has been convicted to 8 weeks
I have designed two types of challenges:
Wilderness therapy option: The parent and the child
goes on a 3 week wilderness course. The parent are present all time
the first week, during week 2 the parent are at home, but has to take
a course in canoeing before joining the camp at the end of week 2. The
child would hike 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) per week during the
first 2 weeks. Week 3 is canoeing for both parent and child for 2 days
and finally solo for both parents and child separated, so the family
truly can understand the experiences of the child in the future and
provide the necessary comprehension to evaluate outcome from the
Pilgrimage option: In Denmark we have an old pilgrim
track called "Hærvejen". The challenge is to hike the
entire 250 kilometers (about 155 miles) at the child's own pace
followed by a parent with a bicycle and bicycle trailer. During this
hike the child would sleep in a tent at one of the countless number of
tent places along the track. There will be a staff member, who will
give a paper with problems which the child can solve by observing
buildings and monument he or she passes. Therapist sessions will also
The program is based on the STAR-program from the United States.
However, due to cultural differences it have become necessary to alter it
so it can be used in Denmark. A child should be kept in the local
community at all costs unless the family is so dysfunctional that the life
of the child would be endangered if it are kept there.
The physical part is also altered. Overweight children are an problem.
In some of the American programs the children are put through hard
physical exercises. Some children has lost their lives on that account. So
in this program they walk. There is another explanation for choosing walk
rather than running. A lot of children are very much left to live on their
own because their parents have demanding careers and leisure-time
activities. The 2 times one hour walk per day should give them plenty of
room for conversation, so a parent-child relationship can be
About STAR programmet:
1 day program for children between 10 and 17.
Another program. <Link>
Debate about one of the death in the STAR-program
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