March | April 2012

News in Brief

National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation Held in Atlanta

On April 17–19, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood Initiative and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program hosted the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation in Atlanta, GA. More than 1,700 investigators, district attorneys and prosecutors, law enforcement agents, victim advocates, and community outreach specialists from around the country and from all levels of government gathered for the largest child exploitation training ever organized by the Justice Department.

Attendees participated in state-of-the art instruction on investigative techniques, court room advocacy, digital forensics, behavioral profiling, victim advocacy, and community outreach. More than 40 different workshops were offered to train law enforcement on various software programs and computer technologies that can be used to investigate child exploitation cases.

"By bringing together so many law enforcement officials, advocates, investigators, and prosecutors . . . not only are we raising awareness about the problems of child exploitation—we also are sending a powerful message: that, when it comes to keeping our children from harm, a new era of collaboration has begun," said Attorney General Eric Holder, who delivered remarks on the first day of the training. Deputy Attorney General James Cole also spoke at the training.

Attorney General Urges Professionals To Take Action on Children's Exposure to Violence

Defending Childhood logo.The Attorney General's Defending Childhood initiative has launched a new Web page to support professionals in their efforts to address children's exposure to violence. The Web page, Take Action To Protect Children, provides resources, tips, hotline numbers, and a personal call to action tailored for professionals in various fields who work with children who experience or witness violence. Attorney General Holder launched Defending Childhood in September 2010 to unify the Department of Justice's efforts to address children's exposure to violence under one initiative.

OJJDP Releases Second Issue of Journal of Juvenile Justice

OJJDP has published the second issue of the online Journal of Juvenile Justice, a semi-annual, peer-reviewed journal that addresses a variety of issues in juvenile justice. This issue features articles on truancy intervention, polygraph testing for juveniles, homeless youth and arrest history, education in juvenile detention facilities, and juvenile reentry. Manuscripts for the third and fourth issues are currently being accepted. Visit the Journal of Juvenile Justice Web site for details.

OJJDP Webinar: The Intersection of Restorative Justice and Disproportionate Minority Contact

On March 14, 2012, OJJDP held a Webinar, "The Road to Juvenile Justice: The Intersection of Restorative Justice and Disproportionate Minority Contact," which highlighted restorative justice practices implemented at several points of contact in the juvenile justice system. These practices have demonstrated success in reducing disproportionate minority contact. The Webinar is archived and accessible on the National Training and Technical Assistance Center's Web site.

NatSCEV-Based Article Gives Advice on Stopping Teen Dating Violence

In an article published in The Atlantic on March 9, 2012, University of New Hampshire's Sherry Hamby provides practical advice on how to stop teen dating violence. Hamby based her article on research from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), a project sponsored by OJJDP with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Conference on Safe Schools & Communities Focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

On March 20, 2012, the White House partnered with the Departments of Justice and Education for a discussion with community leaders, advocates, educators, law enforcement professionals, and members of the public on efforts to ensure safety and security for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Attorney General Eric Holder and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett were the keynote speakers, along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who provided videotaped remarks.

"I'm proud to join you in affirming a simple truth, and renewing this Administration's commitment—as well as my own—to an essential idea: that no one deserves to be bullied, harassed, or victimized because of who they are, how they worship, or who they love," the Attorney General said.

In addition to panel discussions on safe communities and safe schools, the event offered workshops on a range of topics, including youth of color, gay-straight alliances and student-led initiatives, implementation of the Shepard-Byrd Act of 2009, federal legal protections for LGBT students, model K–12 policies and procedures, the prevention of bullying and cyberbullying, and safety and inclusion on college campuses.

OJJDP Acting Administrator Speaks at ABA Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Training

On February 3, 2012, OJJDP Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes offered introductory remarks at a training for attorneys and judges on addressing the needs of youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) who come into contact with the justice system. OJJDP chairs the Justice Issues Work Group for the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. The working group collaborated with the American Bar Association's (ABA's) Center on Children and the Law to organize a continuing legal education class at the association's midyear meeting in New Orleans, LA. The goal of the training was to inform the field in advance of the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago in August, where the center will present a policy resolution on FASD for consideration.

"FASD presents a unique challenge to the juvenile justice system and to us as attorneys. [Youth with FASD] require attorneys who represent them to be familiar with FASD and how it affects their young lives," said Hanes. "We know that we need to learn about this problem and what the juvenile justice system can do to improve the handling of kids with this disorder."

An estimated 1 in 100 children in the United States are born to mothers who drank alcohol during their pregnancies. Youth with FASD-related disabilities, which may include a lack of impulse control, poor social skills, and susceptibility to peer pressure, are at high risk for entering the juvenile justice system. Standard juvenile justice interventions are not designed to accommodate FASD-related impairments.

Labor Department Offers Funding Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the following funding opportunities:

SAMHSA, MacArthur Foundation Collaborate To Improve the Juvenile Justice System Response to Youth With Behavioral Health Needs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation are collaborating on a $1 million effort targeting the behavioral health needs of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. The project is aimed at diverting youth with behavioral health conditions from the juvenile justice system to community-based programs and services.

Most youth in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental or substance use disorder. Youth suffering from these behavioral health disorders often end up unnecessarily in the juvenile justice system rather than getting the services and help they need. Under this initiative, up to eight states will be selected competitively to participate based on their commitment to improving policies and programs for these youth. Technical assistance will be provided to the selected states throughout the duration of this initiative to guide the establishment of models and strategies for diverting youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders as early as possible from the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based behavioral health services.

For more information or for an application, e-mail Policy Research Associates, Inc., or the Technical Assistance Collaborative Inc., the organizations that are coordinating this project.

Publications Released on Mental and Behavioral Health Issues of Justice System-Involved Youth

The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) has released three new publications to help communities meet the mental and behavioral health needs of youth in the juvenile justice system:

Access these publications and others in the TA Partnership's juvenile justice resource series online.

Paper Addresses Needs of Youth in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems

Georgetown Public Policy Institute's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps have released "Addressing the Needs of Multi-System Youth: Strengthening the Connection between Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice." This paper provides communities with a framework for serving youth involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems that incorporates the most up-to-date research, lessons from ongoing reform efforts, and an innovative collaborative management structure. The paper focuses on how to prevent youth from crossing over between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and to ensure that youth who are served by both systems are treated in a manner that respects their safety, well being, and permanence, while ensuring public safety.

Cover of Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011Bureau of Justice Statistics Releases Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2011, a report that provides data on crime and safety at school from the perspective of students, teachers, and principals. It also provides crime and safety information for students' travel to and from school. The report highlights the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools and school environments and responses to violence and crime at school.