Keep your head up: Building life skills in youth for social reintegration and success

Olga Lizbeth Ochoa, University of Texas at El Paso


There are multiple factors that contribute to a juvenile’s future incarceration when facing difficult environmental circumstances: adjudication (it is like an adult criminal conviction, but generally does not subject the youth to the same direct consequences), community characteristics, the age a young person is discharged, criminal history, and gender. This research is important because it applies social science research in community-based settings to address a social concern, moves beyond theoretical research while contributing to a new orientation of an applied project, and provides a model of university-community partnerships for finding innovative strategies to address issues of social concern for local communities. The purpose of this research was to see if I positively impacted juveniles’ self-efficacy and self-regulation through the implementation of the program “Keep your Head Up.” The program was developed through evidence-based research, which was applied and modified to meet the needs and priorities expressed by the El Paso Juvenile Justice Center, working with juveniles in El Paso, Texas. The program aims to provide juveniles with social skills that address the troublesome behaviors of juveniles to guide them and help them reintegrate back into their community after completing their mandated sentence in the Challenge Academy Program. A variety of methods were used to obtain results through the implementation of this program: surveys, interviews, participant-action research, community-based research, assessments, evaluations, and secondary data-analysis. Results demonstrate a slight increase in self-efficacy towards future goals but no improvement in self-regulation.

Subject Area

Social research|Sociology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Ochoa, Olga Lizbeth, "Keep your head up: Building life skills in youth for social reintegration and success" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1591982.