Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention

Report Author

Justin R. Corbett

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Table of Contents

Mechanism of Impact

Prosocial Reintegration

Prosocial reintegration is the leveraging of social capital399 and networks to equip offenders or those at risk of offending with the resources and connections necessary to successfully return as or remain trusted members of their local communities. The primary vehicles for reintegrative impact are mentoring and training for those at risk of offending and restorative re-entry processes for offenders.

Reintegration is an intensely social experience facilitated through Peacemaking and other restorative processes that include various support persons and other affected representatives. The inclusion of these individuals serves as a source of strength to cope with ongoing problems, assists in the reinstatement of positive self-images,400 speeds recovery from negative events,401 and facilitates the transmission and reinforcement of local norms.402

Peacemaking and school-based restorative practices are two exemplars of prosocial reintegration. In these, representatives serve as active participants to victims’ restoration and offenders’ reintegration. Their presence is a testament to their concern for the affected and an affirmation of the importance of collaboratively designing accountable,403 actionable paths toward reinstatement.

Training in prosocial behaviors and related skills are additional vehicles of reintegrative impact. Altruism, compliant, and emotional behaviors are prosocial404 and are developed through perspective-taking, empathy, acceptance of responsibility,405 and related practices.406 These behaviors are regularly promoted in service provider trainings and command considerable attention in select interventions, including the new conflict coaching service offered by several providers.


399. “Social capital includes both interpersonal relationships and the resources embedded in the relationships” (McFadyen, M.A., Cannella, A.A., 2004).

400. Specifically, Ilies and colleagues (2011) note that “social support is seen as a resource from which a person can draw strength for use across various situations, or which a person can use to cope with a specific problem. Social contacts can attenuate the negative impact of interpersonal conflict by freeing personal resources that can be used to deal directly with the problem, by reinstating positive self-image, or by counteracting the affective consequences of the conflict.”

401. “According to the ‘undoing hypothesis,’ positive emotions caused by social support may speed the process of recovery from negative events” (Ilies, R., et al., 2011, citing: Fredrickson, B.L., Levenson, R.W., 1998).

402. Indirect interpersonal exchange ties – interpersonal connections where the parties are not already well-known to each another (e.g. community representatives in a restorative circle or community impact panel) – facilitate explicit knowledge transfer such as community norms (McFadyen, M.A., Cannella, A.A., 2004).

403. When reintegration is forced through formal, dichotomous, retributive processes, offenders’ informal social networks – to whom they are daily accountable – are positioned to be supportive of the offenders, in part, by cognitively justifying the offenders’ actions and de-emphasizing the legitimacy of institutional expectations. Conversely, where these accountability networks are incorporated into a collaborative reintegration process, they are at greater cognitive liberty to stake more nuanced positions and validate the need for prosocial changes by and recompense from the offender.

404. Types of prosocial behaviors include: altruistic (voluntary helping motivated primarily by concern for the needs and welfare of another, often induced by sympathy responding and internalized norms/principles consistent with helping others); compliant (helping others in response to a verbal or nonverbal request); emotional (helping others under emotionally evocative circumstances); and public (helping conducted in front of an audience that is motivated, at least in part, by a desire to gain the approval and respect of others and enhance one’s self-worth) prosocial behaviors (Ilies, R., et al., 2011).

405. “Clarifying responsibility as a strategy is based on the principle that offenders may avoid self-blame for their actions by citing external causal agents, blaming others, employing disinhibitors, claiming a lack of behavioral alternatives, or using groups, organisations, or superiors to obscure their personal contribution to anti-social acts” (Wortley, R., 1996). Conflict-assistive interventions, on the other hand, seek to minimize such clarifications, with some – including many restorative processes – explicitly requiring offenders’ acknowledgements of responsibility prior to even extending an offer of service to the victims.

406. Altruistic, compliant, and emotional prosocial behaviors are all associated with the cognitive variables of perspective taking and internalizing moral reasoning, the emotive variable of sympathy, and the trait-value variable of ascription of responsibility (Carlo, G., Randall, B.A., 2002). Empathy, specifically, is widely connected with prosocial or altruistic behavior (Jolliffe, D., Farrington, D.P., 2004) The connection of these behaviors to criminal activity is direct and long-acknowledged. For example, “individuals who share and/or comprehend another’s negative emotional reaction, which occurs as a result of their own antisocial or aggressive behavior, may be inhibited and less inclined to continue with this behavior or act in an antisocial or aggressive manner in the future. Empathy is, therefore, viewed as an individual protective factor, decreasing the probability of certain types of criminal behavior, while a lack of empathy is assumed to have a facilitating influence on offending” (Jolliffe, D., Farrington, D.P., 2004; citing, in part: Feshbach, N.D., 1975).