Can you provide an overview of your activities these past few months?
The phones have been ringing constantly, a lot of people have been knocking on my door and streaming through my office. Senior management has had meetings with everybodyfederal officials, advisory groups, grantees, former grantees, researchers, and others. We've had a lot of inquiries from Capitol Hill. As a political appointee, I see this as a great opportunity to engage in significant policy discussions and to make significant policy changes.
We're also looking at restructuring OJJDP. One of the goals of the restructuring is to improve information sharing and communications between all sectors of our office and between OJJDP and the juvenile justice field as a whole. Also at the top of our list is a more sustained and closer working relationship with the states. In addition, the restructuring will better position us to effectively carry out our research mission and training and technical assistance. We're still ironing out the wrinkles of the restructuring. As a management team, we're working in an open and transparent way. The entire staff has been actively providing insights and advice throughout this process. There's a lot we're trying to accomplish. This is both a challenging time and an exciting time at OJJDP.
What do you perceive to be OJJDP's challenges and opportunities?
OJJDP's budget has been cut dramatically in the last several years. Money is a scarce commodity these days. But the silver lining in the cloud is that budget cuts are forcing policymakers and the public more and more to ask: Which approaches really work for our youth and which do not? Which approaches both enhance public safety and are a wise use of taxpayer dollars? Because budgets are tight, we have a great opportunity to encourage policymakers to reexamine the costly and ineffective ways business has been done in the past.
Three-quarters of incarcerated youth in this country are locked up for nonviolent offenses like drug offenses and technical violations of parole. We want to make sure to hold kids who have made bad decisions accountable for their actions. That goes without saying. But, many of these youth would be far better served by rigorous rehabilitation, intensive treatment, mandatory counseling, and job training. This is doing right by our kids. And it's also doing right by public safety. It's a less costly and more effective use of taxpayer dollars. Research tells us that this approach is far more effective in preventing repeat delinquency and in making our communities safer places to live.
Research over the last 15–20 years has given us evidence-based practicesstrategies that work, that have a proven track recordfor helping at-risk youth and for getting those who have broken the law back on track. Our job is to disseminate these strategies, and of course we're doing this to a great extent every daythrough training and technical assistance, Webinars, our online Model Programs Guide, and our publications. But we need to do more.
Our high recidivism rates certainly indicate that locking up youth is not the answer, and that locking up kids does not, in the long run, make communities safer.
Do you think the public supports this point of view?
Here's an interesting fact. The American public is overwhelmingly on the side of prevention and rehabilitation for nonviolent youth offenders. A recent poll by the Campaign for Youth Justice showed that a full 78 percent of the American public believes that juvenile justice should be focused on prevention and rehabilitation rather than incarceration and punishment.
What are your priorities for OJJDP?
One area that needs much more attention is children's exposure to violence in this country. The findings of the OJJDP-sponsored National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence were really disturbing. Our study showed that most youth in the country are exposed to violence in their daily lives. More than 60 percentyes, that's right, 60 percenthave been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities.
Research tells us that children exposed to violence suffer some pretty bad outcomes. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior. We also know that early intervention works in countering the effects of this violence. We know that high-quality programs that include effective mentoring give youth resiliency and foster healthy development.
Our Attorney General, Eric Holder, is deeply committed to addressing this issue. His Defending Childhood initiative directs resources for the express purpose of reducing children's exposure to violence, raising public awareness about its consequences, and advancing research on ways to counter its negative consequences. OJJDP is providing the training and technical assistance to demonstration sites across the country that are implementing best practices as part of Defending Childhood. And, as I mentioned earlier, we've got some of the best researchers in the country working on this issue in our National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, which continues to release findings informing our work on the issue. So this is a major priority.
Another important issue is addressing school discipline policies that push kids out of school and into the justice system. Last summer, an important study, "Breaking Schools' Rules," looked at the relationship between student success and discipline in Texas. The study validated what many of us have suspected for a long time: we have overused and inappropriately used suspensions and expulsions as a way to discipline children to the detriment of student learning and staying in school. These inappropriate school disciplinary practices put youth at greater risk of dropping out, illegal behavior, and entry into the justice system.
OJJDP does research to support best practices, and one of the things we've learned is that the minute a youth sets foot in detention or confinement, their prospects for success and having a job decrease dramatically and the likelihood that they will end up in the adult criminal system increases exponentially.
Last July, we worked with the Attorney General and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to launch a partnership between the Departments of Education and Justice to reduce the use of inappropriate school disciplinary practices. I'm really excited about the progress so far. Within a month of launching the initiative, we had staffed a JusticeEducation working group and several cross-agency teams to carry out the work of the initiative. We'll be using everything at our disposalinformation, education, training and technical support, and guidanceto help everyoneteachers, principals, school resource offices, probation officers, judges, school nurses, parents, and studentsget access to the tools they need to help make the needed changes. We've had a lot of interest from philanthropic organizations in helping us with this effort.
There are so many other issues we need to address. We're committed to working closely with states in our Formula Grants program to continue encouraging compliance with the core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act [of 1974, as amended]. Those requirements include making sure kids who commit status offenses like truancy are not incarcerated, reducing disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile justice system, and making sure youth are not locked up in adult jails and prisons. This is a real challenge because the budget for the program has been cut way back. We're also working to help youth in Indian country, to develop and implement effective alternatives to juvenile detention, to continue our research on best practices, and a whole range of other priorities. Times are tough. Which means we have to do more with less. And we are doing that. We have started to work creatively with partners in the private sector to leverage resources and dollars. Dollars are scarce. But we have to keep moving ahead.
You've provided a good overview of your priorities for OJJDP. On a more personal note, can you tell us how you came to be interested in children's issues?
My interest in law and public policy really came from my parents. I was born in Iowa, and my dad was a lawyer with an agency that has since become the Department of Veterans Affairs. We had many, many discussions about social and economic issues and, sparring with him, I learned to think analytically and critically. My mom was an aide to then-Gov. Harold Hughes [D-IA], which gave me a love of politics and also a drive to work in the policy arena.
In terms of my interest in children's issues, the quintessential moment came when I was a young lawyer and a brand new prosecutor. One day, a detective walked into my office with photographs of a 5-month-old little girlshe was called Baby Hannahwith human bite marks all over her face, a subdural hemorrhage from being violently shaken, and 14 broken bones. It was sickening to look at the photos of what had happened to that beautiful baby. Baby Hannah was exactly the same age as my own daughter. But the connection was even closer. She and my daughter were born in the same hospital. Her mother and I were in the same Lamaze class, and we had the same obstetrician.
I was a prosecutor, but I was also a mother. I had an instant, visceral reaction that I had to do everything possible to protect that child. I prosecuted that case, and many other child abuse cases afterward. That commitment to children's justice and safety has stayed with me over all these years and will stay with me always.
As the case of Baby Hannah shows, the terrible truth is that child abuse goes on all the time everywhere. It's not out there in some distant place. It's happening all the time right here, in our own neighborhoods. That's on my mind a lot these days, because April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
What legacy do you hope to leave as Acting Administrator?
We need to do a better job of getting our message out. We are the voice for America's children. As the only federal agency focused specifically on at-risk and justice-system involved youth, OJJDP has the ability to use the bully pulpit of the federal government to speak out and be listened to on juvenile justice issues. We're well positioned to bring issues to the forefront and to raise public awareness. An important legacy would be a larger, more informative, and visionary presence in the juvenile justice arena.
Attorney General Eric Holder recognized six cities for their progress in preventing youth violence at the second annual summit of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, held in Washington, DC, on April 23, 2012. Cities participating in the forum include Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, CA, and San Jose, CA. The Attorney General was joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske at the summit.
In his remarks before summit participants, the Attorney General announced preliminary plans to expand the forum to four additional cities through a competitive application process administered by OJJDP. The Attorney General also announced the launch of an online toolkit that provides resources on how to gather and use data on youth violence, identify community assets, develop measurable objectives, and create and implement plans.
"Our goal is to expand the national conversation about youth violence and its impact on our homes and communities," said Attorney General Holder. "The Department is committed to working with our partners to create and sustain strategies to prevent this violence and keep our youth and communities safe."
OJJDP Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes announced that in fiscal year 2012, OJJDP will award capacity-building grants to forum cities to implement or enhance their local youth violence prevention plans over the next 2 years. In addition, in the next few weeks, OJJDP will issue a competitive solicitation to expand the forum to four additional cities.
"The goal is to create and implement local plans that include prevention, intervention, enforcement, and reentry," said Hanes. "Our hope is that the four new cities will benefit from everything that the six original forum cities have learned."
Launched in 2010 at the direction of President Obama, the forum is a network of communities and federal agencies working together to share information and build local capacity to prevent and reduce youth violence. A recent, independent, interim assessment of the forum's work in participating cities, conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Temple University's Department of Criminal Justice indicated promising results and progress to date.
During the summit, mayors from the six cities presented their successes and challenges in addressing youth violence in their communities. Thirteen youth from various cities also led discussions and provided recommendations on how to prevent youth violence in their communities.
Other forum speakers included Congressman Robert C. Scott, forum Mayors Dennis Donohue (Salinas), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago), Chuck Reed (San Jose), A C Wharton (Memphis) as well as Mayors Michael Nutter (Philadelphia) and Antonio Villaraigosa (Los Angeles), and representatives from Target Corporation, Casey Family Programs, and other business, faith, and philanthropic leaders.
On April 4, 2012, the White House recognized 12 forum representatives as "Champions of Change" at an awards ceremony held at the White House. The 12 were honored as local leaders who have made a difference in their communities through their youth violence prevention efforts.
The Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy are the forum's federal partners. Participating cities are selected based on need, geographic diversity, and willingness and capacity to undertake comprehensive efforts that are the hallmark of the forum.
More details about the forum, summaries of the city plans, a strategic planning toolkit, and details on how to apply to participate in the forum are available at FindYouthInfo.gov. (Videos of the 2-day summit will be available in the coming weeks.)
A blog posted in advance of the summit by Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor for Strategic Engagement to the Senior Advisor, is available on the White House Web site.
A blog about the forum event posted by Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, is available on the Department of Justice Web site. Remarks made at the summit by Attorney General Holder may also be accessed at the Department of Justice Web site.
To identify promising practices, programming, and community strategies to prevent and respond to children's exposure to violence, Attorney General Eric Holder's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence held the final two of four public hearings in Miami, FL, on March 2021, 2012, and in Detroit, MI, on April 2324, 2012.
According to the OJJDP-sponsored 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), nearly one-half of children and adolescents were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured in an assault. Older adolescents ages 14 to 17 were the most likely to experience more serious forms of violence, including assaults with injury, gang assaults, sexual victimizations, physical and emotional abuse, and to witness violence in the community. For more information on NatSCEV, read the sidebar "National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence."
At the March hearing, held at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center, task force co-chairs Joe Torre, chairman of the board of the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, and Robert Listenbee, Jr., chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and other task force members heard from professionals and community members about promising practices for addressing high rates of violence against youth in their communities. Joe Torre's op-ed about his own childhood experiences with domestic violence and the need to address this problem nationwide was published on March 15, 2012, in The Miami Herald.
Panelists at the hearing included Dwight Jones, Mayor of Richmond, VA; Mark Luttrell, Jr., Mayor of Shelby County, TN; Roy Martin, Senior Youth Development Specialist, Youth Development Network (Boston Public Health Commission); Dawn Brown, Executive Director, Girls and Gangs; Carolyn Reyes, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Services for Children; and Lyn Tan, Program Director, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.
On April 19, 2012, in advance of the final public hearing in Detroit, an op-ed by task force co-chair Robert Listenbee, Jr. was published in the Detroit Free Press. The op-ed describes Listenbee's experiences of violence as a youth growing up in the Detroit area, and the need for individuals, communities, organizations, businesses, and governments to work together to prevent and reduce children's exposure to violence.
At the Detroit hearing, held in Wayne State University's Bernath Auditorium, experts in the field of children's exposure to violence discussed ongoing efforts to keep kids safe and prevent youth violence and underscored the benefit of investing in prevention and early identification and intervention activities.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary, and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett delivered opening remarks.
Acting Associate Attorney General West announced the release of a new OJJDP research bulletin, Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities, which features findings from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence. According to the survey, 46 percent of children who had been victimized were known to police, school, or medical authorities. The study shows that a considerable portion of childhood exposure to victimization is still unknown to authorities.
"While more children are reporting violence to authorities, at rates higher than they did 20 years ago, too many continue to endure the pain of victimization in silence," West said.
In panel discussions that followed, topics included successful public-private partnerships, model programs to address children's exposure to violence, the importance of youth involvement, and changing social norms about and systems response to violence. Witnesses included Ralph L. Godbee, Jr., Chief, Police Department, City of Detroit; Lawnya Sherrod, founder of Glimpse of Hope and Youth Voice; Tadarial Sturdivant, Director of Wayne County Child and Family Services; Vincent Schiraldi, Commissioner, New York City Department of Probation; Hector Sànchez-Flores, Executive Director, National Compadres Network; Pamela Shifman, Director, Initiatives for Girls and Women, NoVo Foundation; and Dr. William Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Casey Family Programs.
The National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence will issue a final report to the Attorney General in late 2012 that will present policy recommendations and serve as a blueprint for preventing and reducing the negative effects of such violence cross the country.
Videos of the task force hearings are available on the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's (NCCD's) Web site. NCCD is the technical assistance provider to the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. More information about Attorney General Holder's Defending Childhood initiative, the National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, and Defending Childhood's new Web page Take Action To Protect Children is available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site. An overview of the NatSCEV research may be found on the OJJDP Web site.
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West's blog about the new OJJDP publication Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities is available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
At the February 10, 2012, meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, invited guests Edward P. Mulvey, Ph.D., director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Carol Schubert, the medical school's research program administrator, offered key policy recommendations for promoting desistance from crime among youth who have committed serious offenses. The recommendations are based on an OJJDP-supported longitudinal study, Pathways to Desistance, led by Mulvey.
Researchers conducted more than 21,000 interviews over 8 years with more than 1,300 felony offenders ages 1418 in the cities of Philadelphia and Phoenix. Researchers also interviewed parents and peers and examined arrest records.
Following are findings and policy recommendations presented by Dr. Mulvey and Ms. Schubert at the council meeting. A more detailed explanation of the study's findings may be found in the publications cited in the sidebar below, "OJJDP's Pathways to Desistance Publication Series."
Recommendation: A youth's presenting offense is a poor predictor of future recidivism or positive development. To increase the impact of justice interventions, promote policies that address adolescents' individual patterns of offending, risk factors, and needs; and target services to the highest-risk offenders.
Recommendation: Promote procedures, policies, and assessment tools that review whether adolescent offenders are receiving services in institutional care matched to their needs and promote periodic assessment of institutional environments from the perspective of the adolescents in their care.
Recommendation: Reduce the rate of placement of serious adolescent offenders in institutions as well as the duration of these placements. Increase the level of community-based services to these adolescents.
Recommendation: Increase the provision of substance abuse prevention services to serious adolescent offenders in both institutions and in the community, ensuring that the services are of adequate intensity and that they involve family members.
"The study shows that there is a strong relationship between crime and substance abuse," said Terry Zobeck, Associate Director for Research/Data Analysis at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in commentary following the presentation. "If we're going to have any success in reducing substance abuse, we need to address that association. Substance abuse magnifies and makes the problem of crime so much worse among these populations. Those offenders who receive treatment have better outcomes on rearrest."
OJJDP's Pathways to Desistance Publication Series
In December 2010, OJJDP launched a publication series presenting the findings of the Pathways to Desistance study. This study has collected the most comprehensive data set currently available about serious adolescent offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood. Following are the publications released to date:Highlights From Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders
This fact sheet presents an overview of findings from the Pathways to Desistance study. The primary findings of the study to date deal with the decrease in self-reported offending over time by most serious adolescent offenders, the relative inefficacy of longer juvenile incarcerations in decreasing recidivism, the effectiveness of community-based supervision as a component of aftercare for incarcerated youth, and the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment in reducing both substance use and offending by serious adolescent offenders.
This bulletin presents key findings on the link between adolescent substance use and serious offending. Serious/chronic offenders are much more likely than other juvenile offenders to be substance users and have related disorders. Dispositional factors (sensation seeking, disinhibition, poor affect regulation, stress, depression) can lead to externalizing behaviors such as substance use and criminal activity. Studying the factors that help youth desist from these behaviors may reveal avenues for intervention.
Future publications in this series will address the transfer of adolescents to adult court; psychosocial maturity and desistance from crime; mental health services for serious adolescent offenders; deterrence among high-risk adolescents; and cultural orientation, substance use, and offending among Mexican American youth offenders.
For more information about the Pathways to Desistance study, visit its Web site.
To better meet the needs of at-risk and delinquent girls, their families, and the agencies and organizations that serve them, OJJDP established the National Girls Institute in 2010 as a national clearinghouse for information and as a training and technical assistance center for gender-specific programming. Created in partnership with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the institute offers training and technical assistance in program development and evaluation, effective decisionmaking, assessment instruments, leadership coaching, program monitoring and tracking, community collaborations, fundraising, and numerous other areas.
Research and practice over the last two decades, including comprehensive studies conducted by OJJDP's Girls Study Group, has helped to advance understanding of girls' delinquency and the risk and protective factors that are specific to girls. Now, the juvenile justice field is poised to take the next critical steptranslating knowledge into practical strategies to improve outcomes for girls. The National Girls Institute will play a significant role in this translation by developing national standards of practice for those who work with at-risk and delinquent girls and continuing to offer training and technical assistance.
The institute's newly launched Web site provides a wealth of resources for service providers, including tools for assessing the suitability of interventions for girls as well as information about grant proposal writing, funding sources, gender-responsive curriculums, and training and technical assistance. The Web site also features a section for families that includes information about the juvenile justice system, crisis hotlines, and resources for learning more about promoting healthy lifestyles in youth through sex education, drug awareness, and structured prosocial activities.
OJJDP Acting Administrator
A section of the Web site entitled "I'm a Girl" offers girls access to stories from young women about their life experiences as at-risk girls and how they got help to turn their lives around. The site features links to helpful information about communication and relationships, health, and careers. It also provides online resources that offer advice and allow the posting of messages to foster dialogue on important issues affecting girls. In addition, the site provides girls with tips on how to get involved in their community through volunteering, the arts, and sports.
The Web site incorporates recommendations made during a comprehensive nationwide assessment of training and technical assistance needs during spring and summer 2011. The assessment included 64 listening sessions held across the country with at-risk and justice system-involved girls, their parents or caretakers, and local professionals in the areas of mental health, education, health, delinquency prevention, corrections, and the courts. Participants emphasized the importance of providing peer-sharing opportunities in training and technical assistance events, information sharing across youth-serving organizations and agencies, and including the voices of girls and their families in the development of programs and policies.
The institute is in the process of creating a national advisory board composed of experts in a range of fields, including juvenile justice, child welfare, child protection, education, research, training and technical assistance, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation, teen pregnancy and parenting, and family engagement. The board will contribute to the development of National Girls Institute standards of care, and develop recommendations for gender-responsive practices and for reducing the compartmentalization of information and services among youth-serving agencies.
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: May 9, 2012
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a day to join communities, organizations, agencies, and individuals nationwide in raising awareness that positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. In 2011, more than 1,100 sites observed the day with community events, youth rallies, social media campaigns, and art-, dance-, and music-related activities for children and youth aimed at raising awareness about the importance of children's mental health. This year's focus will be on building resilience in young children dealing with trauma. To learn more about National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2012, go to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Web site.
National Association of Drug Court Professionals 18th Annual Training Conference: May 30June 2, 2012
To be held in Nashville, TN, this conference will feature more than 175 educational sessions on drug courts, DWI [Driving While Intoxicated] courts, veterans treatment courts, tribal healing to wellness courts, mental health courts, juvenile and family drug courts, and more. Registration is available online.
31st Annual National CASA Conference: June 912, 2012
Each year, more than 1,400 court-appointed special advocates (CASAs) and guardians ad litem, board members, volunteers, judges, attorneys, and other child welfare professionals gather to connect with peers and learn from leaders in the field. The 2012 National CASA Conference will take place in Washington, DC.
National Institute of Justice 2012 Conference: June 1820, 2012
The National Institute of Justice's annual conference brings together criminal justice scholars, policymakers, and practitioners at the local, state, and federal levels to share the most recent findings from research and technology. To be held in Arlington, VA, the theme of this year's conference is "Turning to Science: Enhancing Justice, Improving Safety, Reducing Costs." The conference will showcase what works, what doesn't work, and what the research shows as promising. For more information and to register, visit the conference Web site.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' 75th Annual Conference:
July 1518, 2012
This conference, to be held in New Orleans, LA, will focus on a range of juvenile and family law topics, including child abuse and neglect, trauma, custody and visitation, high-conflict divorce, juvenile justice, domestic violence, and substance abuse. The annual conference provides information and tools to juvenile and family courts to support their efforts to improve case processing and outcomes for children, youth, families, victims, and communities. For more information and to register, visit the conference Web site.
Fifth National Conference on Behavioral Health for Women and Girls: July 1719, 2012
This conference, which will take place in San Diego, CA, will bring together professionals working in prevention, mental health, and addiction services for women and girls. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in partnership with Mental Health Systems, Inc., "It's All About HERRHealth, Empowerment, Resilience, and Recovery" will emphasize gender-responsive, culturally competent, and trauma-informed principles and practices. For information and to register, visit the conference Web site.
Children's Defense Fund National Conference: July 2225, 2012
The conference will present the latest research findings, best practices, community-building models, and empowerment strategies to meet the needs of children and the poor, including a focus on diminishing child and youth involvement in the juvenile justice system. The conference will take place in Cincinnati, OH. Registration is available online.
National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation Held in Atlanta
On April 1719, 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 exploitationwe 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
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 commitmentas well as my ownto 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 K12 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.
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.
Bureau 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.
All OJJDP publications may be viewed and downloaded on the publications section of the OJJDP Web site. Print publications also may be ordered online at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Web site.
Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities (Bulletin)
Considerable efforts have been made during the last generation to encourage children and their families to report victimization to authorities. Nonetheless, concern persists that most child victimization remains hidden. The recently completed 2008 inventory of child victimizationthe National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violencefeatured an assessment of whether victimizations were being identified by authorities, including police, school, and medical authorities. The survey found that 13 percent of children victimized in the previous year had at least one of their victimizations known to police, and 46 percent had one known to school, police, or medical authorities. In addition, authorities knew about a majority of serious victimizations, including incidents of sexual abuse by an adult, gang assaults, and kidnappings, but they were mostly unaware of other kinds of serious victimizations, such as dating violence and completed and attempted rape.
Highlights of the 2010 National Youth Gang Survey (Fact Sheet)
Since 1996, the National Gang Center, through the National Youth Gang Survey, has collected data annually from a large, representative sample of local law enforcement agencies to track the size and scope of the nation's gang problem. Among other findings, the 2010 survey showed that gang-related homicides increased more than 10 percent from 2009 in cities with populations of more than 100,000. In addition, highly populated areas accounted for the vast majority of gang-related homicides nationally.
At the February 10, 2012, meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, researchers reported on findings from Pathways to Desistance, an OJJDP-supported longitudinal study on serious juvenile offenders. The primary findings of the study to date address:
For more information, see the article entitled "Coordinating Council Meeting Highlights Study on Serious Juvenile Offenders" in this issue.
In other news from the council meeting, Luke Tate, Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), served as moderator for a discussion of the HUDGreatSchools Partnership. Panelists in the discussion included Maria-Lana Queen, Office of Public and Indian Housing, HUD; Natanya Levioff, GreatSchools; and Iris McLaurin-Southall, District of Columbia Housing Authority.
Attorney General Eric Holder
The intent of the new partnership is to give parents living in public housing or who receive HUD Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance greater access to local school information that will help them make more informed decisions about where to send their children to school. GreatSchools, a national nonprofit education resource for parents, offers a range of Web-based resources, including a database of school performance information for more than 200,000 public, charter, and private schools. The Web site also has information on how parents can help their children achieve academic success. HUD and GreatSchools are working with the nation's 3,200 public housing authorities to provide handouts of local school listings and other helpful information to parents receiving housing assistance.
"Whether it be the threat of violence, apathy in schools, or inability to maintain the social fabric, housing choices influence many different factors of a child's life," said Queen. "When you're choosing a home, you're not just choosing a home. Safety challenges, housing challenges, school challenges must be addressed in tandem."
As of mid-February, the HUDGreatSchools partnership had reached more than 1.9 million households in the HCV rental assistance program and nearly 980,000 households in public housing.
Meetings of the council are open to the public. Visit the Web site to learn more about the council and read minutes from past meetings.
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an independent body within the executive branch of the federal government operated under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The council's primary functions are to coordinate federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children.
The council is made up of 22 members13 ex officio and affiliate members and 9 practitioners. The ex officio members are: the Attorney General; the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development, and Labor; the Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Affiliate members are the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior, and the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of HHS. The nine juvenile justice practitioner members are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate Majority Leader, and the President of the United States.
Agenda items for the April 20, 2012, meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) included discussions of:
The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice is a consultative body established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, as amended (Section 223), and supported by OJJDP. Composed of members of state advisory groups on juvenile justice, the committee advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice, evaluates the progress and accomplishments of juvenile justice activities and projects, and advises the OJJDP Administrator on the work of OJJDP.