- Matthew Aalsma, PhD
- Abby Hunt, MSW
- Mary Ott, MD, MA
Research Project Description
Building upon adolescent research showing that connection to caring adults is a key protective factor, the Indiana project examines whether changing juvenile prison staff perceptions about adolescents, and equipping staff to provide evidence-based programs improves outcomes. Through a mixed methods stepped wedge design, this research evaluates a neuroscience-based intervention that will train staff in Indiana’s four juvenile prisons in the basics of the adolescent brain and improve the use of adolescent specific de-escalation techniques. The goal of the training is to provide staff with a better understanding of the causes of adolescent behaviors and decision-making, explicit bias, the role of culture, and strategies for working with difficult adolescents. Utilizing a developmental neuroscience perspective and focusing on positive aspects of youth and rehabilitative potential, this research can contribute to best practices in juvenile justice reform.
Matthew Aalsma, PhD
Matthew Aalsma is a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. With a developmental neuroscience perspective on adolescent health behavior, his research focuses on how to impact behavioral health and medical systems to improve adolescent health outcomes.
Abby Hunt, MSW
Abby Hunt is the Executive Director of Health Care Education and Training, Inc., a non-profit focused on training and program implementation in reproductive and sexual health. She has a passion and extensive experience implementing evidence-based programs for system-involved and other vulnerable youth.
Mary Ott, MD, MA
Mary Ott is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on community-based pregnancy and STI prevention, and ethics related to sensitive topics with vulnerable adolescents. Her work is developmentally informed and includes a neuroscience-informed perspective on adolescent decision-making and capacity.