RISE: Validity Evidence Based on At-Risk Youth & Gang Membership


Evaluating risky behaviors and psychological strengths in children, adolescents, and young adults can help professionals improve the adaptation of at-risk youths. Adolescents who engage in high-risk behavior like gang membership have larger proportions of non-white race and lower levels of parent education than those grouped by diagnosis such as ADHD or autism. 

Discovering these factors early can help counselors, teachers, and parents evaluate their child for proneness to risky behaviors as well as identifying behaviors that could indicate gang activity or membership. 

Children with mental health diagnoses can exhibit symptoms of risky behavior that is detrimental to their adaptability in social situations. It could put them or others in danger. Risk Inventory and Strengths Evaluation (RISE) helps to evaluate their psychological strengths and identify environmental triggers so they can adapt and move forward. 

At-Risk Youth 

The At-Risk youth clinical sample consists of 160 individuals from underserved or gang-affected communities in Los Angeles. It includes at-risk cases, current gang members, ex-gang members, and youth on probation. 

This is a key validation sample for the RISE Assessment because it contains youth classified by real-world outcomes like early involvement with the legal system rather than by clinician-assigned diagnoses or primary problems. The purpose of this group is to identify the youth involved in high-risk activities before they suffer any of the negative consequences of their risky behavior. 

Across raters, both parent and self, the individuals in the At-Risk group scored consistently higher on the Risk Summary Scale than the typically developing control sample. They also scored lower than the control group on the Strength Summary Scale across parent, self, and teacher raters. 

While the Teacher Form effect sizes for both the Risk Summary and Strength Summary differ, that simply tells us that the teacher’s findings are based primarily on classroom observations while these youth engage in risky behaviors covered by the Risk Summary Scale outside of the classroom. Teachers have less reliable knowledge of these behaviors. The behaviors in the Strength Summary manifest more frequently in the classroom. 

In addition, the At-Risk group demonstrated significantly higher scores than the control group on the six Risk Subscales which include bullying and aggression, delinquency, eating and sleeping problems, sexual risk, substance abuse, and suicide or self-harm. 

The At-Risk youth also scored lower than the control group on emotional balance, interpersonal skill, and self-confidence. These findings are clinically significant in proving that the RISE Assessment has the ability to differentiate at-risk youth from their typically developing peers. 

Gang Membership 

Gang Membership can indicate an increased likelihood that an individual will engage in the risky behaviors identified in RISE. The Gang Membership group contains youths belonging to gangs at the time of assessment. 

As with the At-Risk group, the Gang Membership sample scored higher on the Risk Summary Scale and lower on the Strength Summary Scale. These findings are as expected because gang membership involves higher levels of risk-taking behavior and lower levels of psychological assets. 

Also like the At-Risk group, teacher ratings of the Gang Membership sample indicate a more substantial disparity between the psychological assets of these individuals than of their typically developing peers. This concludes that teachers have a more consistent view of adaptive and healthy behaviors that occur in the classroom than they do of the risky behaviors outside of the classroom. 

RISE Risk Subscales like aggressive behavior, juvenile delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual acting-out address areas of high-risk behavior that may be a sign of gang membership. The differences between the gang members and the controls are clinically significant on the mean scores for bullying and aggression, delinquency, sexual risk, and substance abuse subscales. 

The validity evidence provided by clinical assessments of both At-Risk youth and Gang Membership concludes that the RISE Assessment is useful in detecting a correlation between risky behaviors and the potential for gang membership. By identifying the youth who have the potential for harmful behaviors early, the RISE Assessment can help increase their psychologically beneficial behaviors and decrease their risky behaviors. 

For more information on the RISE Assessment, visit WPS Publish