Adolescence is a time of rapid, often unbalanced, neurological and behavioral growth that places youth and their needs and development in sharp contrast with adults and children. To effectively meet the challenges of juvenile offending and reduce recidivism, states and localities must move away from a justice model focused on punishment and instead adopt a model that acknowledges the changes that youthful offenders are undergoing and fosters positive development and accountability.
These are among the major findings and recommendations contained in Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, a study undertaken by the National Research Council (NRC) at the request of OJJDP. NRC is operated jointly by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering.
In 2010, OJJDP commissioned NRC to review recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and to draw out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform. Furthermore, OJJDP asked the council to assess the new generation of reform activities occurring in the United States and to examine OJJDP’s role in carrying out its statutory mission and its potential role in supporting scientifically based reform efforts.
On July 26, 2013, three members of the NRC-convened Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform presented a summary of their findings at a quarterly meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Dr. Robert L. Johnson, Committee Chair and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Rutgers UniversityNew Jersey Medical School; Dr. Edward Mulvey, Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Gladys Carrion, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, spoke before the Coordinating Council. The meeting was chaired by Associate Attorney General Tony West and OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee.
“What we are talking about here is a cultural shift in how we think about juvenile justice,” said Associate Attorney General West in his opening remarks. “The findings and recommendations of this NAS report are closely aligned with this council’s ongoing work related to the Defending Childhood Initiative, as well as major Department of Justice priorities, such as addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and enhancing youth access to qualified legal counsel.”
“We at OJJDP believe that this report’s findings and recommendations can transform how policymakers, practitioners, and researchers address the needs of children who are at risk for involvement or who are already involved in the juvenile justice system,” said Administrator Listenbee.
In his introductory remarks to the presentations, Dr. Johnson said that the “juvenile justice system as it now exists does not respect human development.” Over his 40-year career, he added, he has worked with many young people who had run afoul of the law. “I have come to understand that the system often makes them worse,” he said.
Adolescence is a time when the brain is busy “pruning” lesser used synaptic connections and strengthening stronger, more often used synaptic connections. “This is a time in the brain’s development when the pathways of communication get wired correctly,” said Dr. Mulvey. “The process does not occur all at once. The different lobes of the brain mature at different times.”
The frontal lobe, which is home to judgment, impulse control, emotions, reasoning, and problem solving, is the last part of the brain to mature. This happens when a person is about 24 years old. As a result, Dr. Mulvey said, adolescents differ from adults in three important ways:
To support positive development, adolescents need the following in their lives: a strong, caring parent or parent figure; positive peers; and opportunities for positive decisionmaking and critical thinking. “A protective environment that families can provide promotes positive risk taking in adolescents,” Dr. Mulvey said. He added that juvenile justice interventions can play a crucial role in fostering positive development in a youth as well as ensuring public safety and that interventions that hold offenders accountable for their actions will promote healthy moral development and legal socialization if youth perceive them to be fair. Conversely, interventions that youthful offenders perceive to be unfair will foster further social disaffection and antisocial behavior.
“The goals of the juvenile justice system should be to promote accountability, ensure fairness of treatment, and prevent recidivism,” said Commissioner Carrion. “We should use confinement rarely and not for punishment,” she said.
Gladys Carrion, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services
“How kids think about the system is important,” she added. “DMC (disproportionate minority contact) increases their sense of unfairness. Most adolescents in the juvenile justice system are not serious offenders, and prison hurts them rather than helps them. There is no payoff for extended incarceration of most adolescent offenders. In most cases, they should be held only long enough so they can receive services.”
According to the commissioner, the adoption of a developmental approach to youth programs, policies, and practices at the federal, state, and local levels is a long-term process that will require the formation of multistakeholder task forces, the strengthening of OJJDP’s role and voice, further research, and improved data. “We need to get rid of things that don’t work, and we need more and better data on kids in the system,” Commissioner Carrion said. She added that system reform will require many partners who will take ownership of the youth in the justice system. “The juvenile justice system is the system of last resort for these children,” she said. “In many cases, juvenile justice does not have access to other supports found in the mental health, substance abuse treatment, education, developmental disabilities, and housing systems. This needs to change.”
Commissioner Carrion stated that during her 6 years as head of New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services, her agency has closed 21 facilities. She shared that it costs the state $262,000 a year to house a child in the juvenile justice system, so the savings have been substantial.
“In New York, 99 percent of our agency’s budget goes for facilities,” she said. “We have used the money we have saved to narrow the front door into the system so that only the children who pose a risk enter the system.” In turn, the state has used the savings to fund alternatives to detention, develop improved assessment tools, improve conditions of confinement for those youth in the system, and streamline probation. “We try to incentivize what works,” she added, explaining that her agency has adopted a developmental approach in its handling of youth in the system. The state has shortened the length of stay in confinement for youth and has hired therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to work with youth.
Clare Anderson, Deputy Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that her agency’s findings on child development and trauma are consistent with the NRC findings. “Kids in the child welfare system have quite similar experiences as children in the juvenile justice system,” she said. “What we have found is these kids’ brains develop to survive in a hostile world.”
Quoting from the report, Administrator Listenbee highlighted the potiential detrimental outcomes of pursuing the current course, which include "negative interactions between youth and justice system officials, increased disrespect for the law and legal authority, and the reinforcement of a deviant identity and social disaffection."
Alternatively, "If the procedures for holding youth accountable for their offending and the services provided to them are designed and operated in a developmentally informed way, this approach will promote positive legal socialization, reinforce a prosocial identity, and reduce reoffending," said Administrator Listenbee.
The report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach, is available online.
OJJDP has released OJJDP Family Listening Sessions: Executive Summary, a report on the findings from four listening sessions held with families and youth who had direct experiences with the juvenile justice system at the local and state levels. In collaboration with the Campaign for Youth Justice and Education Development Center, Inc., OJJDP convened the listening sessions from March through July 2011. The goal of the sessions was to learn firsthand about the experiences of system-involved families and to explore ways to improve family engagement and ensure better outcomes for children and youth.
Following are some examples of common themes and recommendations highlighted in the report:
OJJDP is using the information gleaned from these listening sessions to strengthen policies and activities (e.g., grantmaking and technical assistance); inform guidance to jurisdictions interested in partnering with youth and families; and raise national awareness about the importance of family engagement in the juvenile justice system. These efforts include OJJDP staff development, Webinars, presentations before key stakeholder groups, the inclusion of family members on specific working groups and committees to ensure that all system reform efforts incorporate the voices of youth and families, and coordination with other federal agencies on identifying and applying effective youth and family engagement strategies and practices.
OJJDP’s new publication, OJJDP Family Listening Sessions: Executive Summary is accessible online. To learn more about other OJJDP efforts to promote family engagement, read "Engaging Families as Valued Partners in the Juvenile Justice System" and “OJJDP Participates in Briefing, Launches Webinar Series on Family Engagement in the Juvenile Justice System” from past issues of OJJDP News @ a Glance.
The Campaign for Youth Justice has released FAMILY Comes First: A Workbook to Transform the Justice System by Partnering with Families. The workbook provides practical tools and resources for juvenile justice system practitioners who are undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice.
OJJDP provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to communities working to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. A major component of these efforts is the provision of training and technical assistance resources that address the needs of juvenile justice practitioners and that support state and local efforts to build capacity and expand the use of evidence-based practices.
To assist policymakers and practitioners in implementing comprehensive communitywide initiatives that strengthen the local juvenile justice system, OJJDP has developed a network of providers dedicated to delivering targeted training and technical assistance.
What types of technical assistance are available?
OJJDP and its network of providers offer assistance in many areas, including:
What subject areas are addressed by OJJDP's training and technical assistance services?
OJJDP's training and technical assistance network stands ready to respond to a broad range of requests in all areas related to juvenile delinquency and victimization. Subject areas include:
Who is eligible for technical assistance?
Any state, tribe, unit of local government, or organization supporting the justice system's response to juvenile delinquency and victimization is eligible to receive technical assistance. Although OJJDP may not have funding to support every request, the agency has many resources that can benefit the field. OJJDP responds to every request for training and technical assistance and can facilitate assistance through a variety of means, including financial support, information dissemination, coordination and collaboration, and referral.
How do I request training and technical assistance?
All requesters must provide basic information about their jurisdiction and full details about the nature of their request. Requesters should submit a Training and Technical Assistance Request Form to OJJDP's National Training and Technical Assistance Center. Recipients of OJJDP discretionary grants should contact their OJJDP program manager by telephone or e-mail.
Questions regarding training and technical assistance resources should be addressed to OJJDP’s Training and Technical Assistance Unit:
On July 11, 2013, administrative heads of three agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance encouraging state and tribal governments to integrate trauma-informed screening, assessments of child well-being and functioning, and evidence-based practices into their services to children and families. On the same day, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius posted a blog announcing the issuance of the guidance, calling it a critical step forward toward the implementation and financing of trauma-informed practices.
In a letter to state and tribal directors of child welfare agencies, the leaders of the Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration urged them to join the Department “to address complex, interpersonal trauma and improve social-emotional health among children known to child welfare systems.”
The letter goes on to lay out the groundwork for a new model of delivering trauma-informed services to children and families and training for the field and identifies funding streams available to states to support trauma-informed services and treatment.
The guidance dovetails with a recommendation made by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children’s Exposure to Violence, which called on professionals who work with children to educate themselves on the impact of trauma on children’s lives. The task force also challenged child-serving professionals to find the resources to implement programs that provide trauma-informed care.
In a letter to constituent audiences, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee wrote: “The attached guidance that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Directors of the Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued last week sets forth a clear pathway for those who work with children to integrate the use of trauma-focused screening, functional assessments, and evidence-based practices in child-serving settings to improve child well-being. It also outlines federal financial resources for addressing child trauma. I congratulate my colleagues at HHS for clearly showing us the way forward and commend the attached document to you.”
In October 2011, the Department of Justice convened the National Task Force on Children’s Exposure to Violence. The task force held four public hearings and three listening sessions around the country, at which they heard personal testimony from 65 people from 27 states and the District of Columbia. In December 2012, the task force released a final report with more than 50 recommendations for reducing children’s exposure to violence.
National Sexual Assault Conference: August 2830, 2013
The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault is hosting this conference in Los Angeles, CA, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The 3-day conference, entitled “Inspire a Movement, Invest in Change, Imagine,” will provide the most up-to-date information on effective practices for preventing, intervening in, and helping victims to heal from sexual violence. Registration information is available online.
18th International Conference & Summit on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma: September 811, 2013
To be held in San Diego, CA, this conference will feature tracks on intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, children exposed to violence, at-risk youth, criminal justice issues, sexual assault, people with disabilities, treatment of victims and offenders, elder abuse, trauma, and more. The event is hosted by the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University. This year’s conference also includes the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan summit and research sessions. Registration information is available online.
2013 National Center for Victims of Crime National Conference: September 911, 2013
This conference will emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to sharing promising practices, current research, and effective programs and policies that are victim centered, practice based, and research informed. Hosted by the National Center for Victims of Crime, the conference provides a forum for law enforcement, victim service professionals, allied practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to share current developments and build new collaborations. Conference sessions will highlight practical information to better support services for individuals victimized by crimes of all types. Registration information is available online.
Indian Child Welfare Act Training Series: September 912, 2013
As part of its Indian Child Welfare Act series, the National Indian Child Welfare Association will offer the training, “Understanding the Indian Child Welfare Act” on September 9–10 in Portland, OR. The training will provide participants with information about the basic legal requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and the practice issues involved with its implementation. A second training, “Advanced Practice in ICWA” will be held on September 1112. Topics include advanced strategies for implementing ICWA and opportunities for facilitating additional policy and practice supports to enhance implementation of ICWA. Registration information is available online.
ISPCAN European Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect: September 1518, 2013
Sponsored by the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), the conference, "Protecting Children in a Changing World,” will cover a range of topics, including the prevention of child abuse and neglect through early and sustained involvement, interventions and programs for children and families experiencing adversity, addressing children’s rights and participation, reforms in child protection and welfare policy, children in out-of-home care, and evidence-based practices. Registration information for this event, to be held in Dublin, Ireland, is available online.
Strategies for Justice: Advanced Investigation and Prosecution of Child Abuse and Exploitation: September 2327, 2013
Hosted by the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, this event will feature advanced training in the prosecution of both physical and sexual child abuse. Topics include emerging technologies and digital exploitation, new research on offender characteristics, bullying and torture, and the latest information on abusive head trauma and DNA evidence. Also offered will be sessions on suspect interrogation, interviewing small children and toddlers, the role of faith-based institutions in fighting child abuse, and ethics for professionals. The training will be held in Atlanta, GA. Registration is available online.
Intervening at the Crossroads: Child Abuse and Juvenile Justice Conference: September 2526, 2013
This conference combines two annual meetingsthe Improving Investigation & Prosecution of Child Abuse conference and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conferenceinto one larger event, promoting opportunities for cross-system collaboration. Sponsored by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the multidisciplinary event is targeted to professionals who work in child protective services, child welfare, law enforcement, juvenile probation, and the courts, as well as advocates for youth. Registration information is available online.
Third Annual National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention: September 2627, 2013
The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention will hold its third annual summit in Arlington, VA. The 2-day event will bring together federal and local partners, congressional leaders, and public and private organizations in a collaborative effort to address youth violence and to highlight the hard work and dedication of the forum’s partners. The summit will serve as a platform to raise awareness about the administration’s agenda to enhance and promote youth violence prevention strategies—with the forum and the Defending Childhood Initiative as the centerpieces—and focus on how the 10 cities participating in the forum will sustain their efforts. An in-depth write-up of summit proceedings will be included in the next issue of "OJJDP News @ a Glance."
120th Annual IACP Conference and Exposition: October 1923, 2013
Featuring forums, technical workshops, and an exhibit hall, this annual event provides law enforcement professionals with opportunities to learn more about emerging trends in law enforcement and the latest developments in technology. The event is hosted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Registration information for the conference, to be held in Philadelphia, PA, is available online.
Mid-Atlantic Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect: October 2325, 2013
Organized by the Maryland Children’s Alliance, this annual conference, to be held in Annapolis, MD, will feature speakers addressing the needs of Child Advocacy Centers and the mental health needs of victims. In addition, tracks for law enforcement, prosecution, judicial, and medical personnel will be offered. Registration information is available online.
Introduction to Juvenile Interview and Interrogation Techniques: November 1314, 2013
This 2-day tailored training, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), will present key components of IACP’s and OJJDP’s recommended juvenile interview techniques for law enforcement. Strategies will be provided for analyzing behavior, developing rapport, and conducting effective juvenile interviews and interrogations. Case examples and actual footage of juvenile interviews will be presented to illustrate successful investigative techniques. The training will be held in Downers Grove, IL.
American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting: November 2023, 2013
The American Society of Criminology's 2013 meeting, “Expanding the Core: Neglected Crimes, Groups, Causes, and Policy Approaches,” to be held in Atlanta, GA, will offer sessions and roundtables on the measurement, etiology, consequences, prevention, control, and treatment of crime and delinquency. More information about the meeting, including the program, hotel arrangements, and registration, is available online.
Eighth Global Youth Justice Training Institute: December 35, 2013
Global Youth Justice will host its eighth Global Youth Justice Training Institute in Las Vegas, NV. Participants will learn how to establish or enhance local juvenile justice diversion programsteen, peer, youth, and student courts and peer juries. Topics include training youth and adult volunteers, delivering quality community services and programs, conducting mock family intake meetings, identifying funding and resources, addressing legal and liability issues, creating partnerships with memorandums of understanding, evaluating programs, writing proposals, and identifying public and private resources. Registration information is available online.
Information Sharing Certificate Program: December 912, 2013
Applications are now available for the Information Sharing Certificate Program, to be hosted in Washington, DC, by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute in partnership with the Juvenile Law Center and the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps. The program is designed to enable leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health, and other child-serving fields to overcome information-sharing challenges that prevent the communication and coordination that is necessary to adequately serve youth known across multiple systems of care. Applications are due September 6. More information about the application process is available online.
American Bar Association Endorses Task Force Recommendations To Address Children's Exposure to Violence, Urges Immediate Implementation
On August 12, 2013, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution supporting the implementation of the 56 policy recommendations set forth in the “Report of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.” The reportcommissioned as part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood Initiativeis a blueprint for reducing the impact of trauma on children who witness or experience violence. Describing the recommendations as timely and significant, the ABA stated that the “comprehensive implementation of these recommendations will ensure that federal, state, and local governments are held responsible for the care and well-being of violence-exposed young people, provide a fair legal process and meaningful access to justice, and offer services to improve the lives, rehabilitation, and future of court-involved youth.”
Administrator Listenbee Participates in Forum on Juvenile Justice System Reform
On July 30, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee participated in “States’ Innovations in Juvenile Justice: Investing in Better Outcomes for Youth,” a forum hosted by Sen. Chris Murphy (CT). Mr. Listenbee’s co-panelists were Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning in Connecticut; Sen. John Whitmire, who represents the 15th Senatorial District of north Houston and Harris County in the Texas legislature; and Summit County (Ohio) Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio. In his remarks, Administrator Listenbee talked about the recently released National Research Council report Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach and how it is informing OJJDP’s efforts to incorporate a developmental approach into policy and program development. He also talked about OJJDP’s work to implement the findings of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence and the Departments of Justice and Education’s work to reform harsh school disciplinary policies and practices through the Supportive School Discipline Initiative. During a question and answer session, the panelists discussed the Affordable Care Act and how its implementation may affect youth in confinement. They also discussed how to incorporate better mental health care in schools and juvenile justice facilities; information sharing among the courts, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and other child-serving systems; and how to address the different types of trauma children experience when they are in secure confinement. A Webcast of the forum is accessible online.
Justice Department Officials Speak at NADCP's Annual Training Conference
More than 4,000 treatment court professionals gathered in National Harbor, MD, on July 1417, 2013, for the world's largest conference on substance abuse, mental health, and the justice system. Organized by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the 19th Annual Training Conference featured more than 175 educational sessions on a range of topics, including drug courts, veterans’ treatment courts, tribal healing-to-wellness courts, mental health courts, and juvenile and family drug courts.
On July 15, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole delivered a keynote address outlining the Justice Department's work in the area of drug courts. He cited research by the National Institute of Justice that shows that local drug courts reduce drug use and criminal offending. OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee served as a panelist in the session, “Disparities in the Justice System: How Drug Courts Can Ensure Fairness to Disadvantaged Groups.” Other panel participants included Denise O’Donnell, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance; and Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Doug Marlowe, Chief of Science, Law & Policy, NADCP.
Robert L. Listenbee Participates in National Urban League Panel Discussion on Trauma-Informed Services for Minority Men and Boys
On July 25, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee participated in a panel discussion, “Saving Our Sons: Resilience and Wellness for Our Minds and Bodies,” at the annual National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The discussion focused on trauma-informed approaches to addressing the health needs of African-American men and boys, who are exposed to exceptionally high rates of violence, particularly in urban areas. Regular exposure to violence and trauma has long-term effects on both physical and mental health. The panel discussed innovative and culturally relevant strategiesincluding the use of peer counseling in community-based settingsto help men and boys heal and to avoid perpetuating the cycle of violence in their neighborhoods.
OJJDP Holds Listening Session on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
An OJJDP listening session held on June 1314, 2013, brought together top researchers, practitioners, tribal representatives, and staff of partnering federal agencies and youth-serving organizations to discuss the physical, behavioral, and academic challenges faced by children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is caused by maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Children with FASD are at high risk for involvement with the juvenile justice system. The listening session featured interactive discussions as well as presentations by experts on the causes and consequences of FASD, the treatment needs of children with FASD, and strategies for better serving children with FASD who are in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. During the meeting, the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law shared a draft plan to improve the responses of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems to children with FASD. Participants commented on the draft, and subcommittees formed to revise the draft into a document that would provide actionable recommendations.
OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee offered introductory remarks and participated in discussions on the session's opening day. “Alcohol wreaks its havoc at the most vulnerable stage of human development. The effects are lifelong, and they are irreversible,” said Administrator Listenbee. “This exposure to alcohol can predispose children to an elevated risk for trauma. We need to be better informed about the factors that dispose these kids to come into contact with the justice system, how to effectively represent these youth in court, and how to most appropriately handle these youth if they should enter the juvenile justice system,” he said.
The Pew Charitable Trusts Releases Juvenile Justice Reform Briefs
The Pew Charitable Trusts has released two Web briefs:
Vera Institute of Justice Releases New Publications
The Vera Institute of Justice, which engages in research and demonstration projects and provides technical assistance to improve the justice system, recently released two new resources:
Report on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Minors To Be Released Next Month
On September 25, 2013, the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) will release a final report on the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The study, funded by OJJDP, was conducted by a committee of independent experts who reviewed and synthesized relevant literature in a range of fields, including the behavioral sciences, health and medicine, and law; examined law enforcement data, health surveys, and national juvenile justice data sets; and consulted with experts and knowledgeable stakeholders. In the forthcoming report, the committee recommends strategies to respond to the commercial sexual exploitation of minors, including policies and practices for human services, health care agencies, juvenile justice agencies, law enforcement, and the judiciary; assesses the adequacy of current state and federal laws; and outlines a research agenda to guide future studies in this field. IOM and NRC are branches of the National Academy of Sciences.
Webinar Examines How Youth's Access to Counsel Can Improve Conditions in Detention and Correctional Facilities
On July 17, 2013, OJJDP's National Center for Youth in Custody (NC4YC) presented “Providing Access to Counsel to Improve Facility Conditions.” The 90-minute Webinar explored how access to counsel for youth in confinement can result in safer detention and correctional facilities, enhanced operations, and improved staff-resident relationships. Presenters showcased youth voices on the importance of attorney engagement and highlighted examples of effective practices nationwide. The Webinar is the sixth in the NC4YC series on improving conditions of confinement. All Webinars in the series may be accessed on the NC4YC Web site.
National Girls Institute Presents Webinars on Trauma-Informed Care
On August 7, 2013, OJJDP's National Girls Institute hosted the Webinar, “A Trauma-Informed Effective Reinforcement (TIER) System for Girls in Residential Facilities.” The online session reviewed the framework of the TIER System for Girls, which diminishes negative, destructive behaviors through supportive techniques that teach girls the necessary skills to manage their own challenging feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. The Webinar provided examples of processes and techniques that have been effective in motivating positive behavior. The Webinar, “Girls at Risk: A Trauma-Informed Approach,” held on June 26, examined the much higher rates of trauma exposure, including physical and sexual abuse, among girls in the justice system, as compared with girls in the general population. Many of these girls struggle with alcohol and drug dependence as well as physical and mental health disorders. The Webinar explored how institutions can incorporate trauma-informed approaches into services, program activities, and the day-to-day relationships between staff and girls who are in their care. Audio recordings of the Webinars are available online.
Education Department Video Offers Messages of Hope for Bullying Victims
In a recently released video, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff share personal stories of bullying and offer messages of hope to youth who are being bullied in our nation's schools. In addition, Seth Galanter, ED's Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, discusses federal legislation that protects individuals from harassment on the basis of race, sex, and disability; and Deb Delisle, ED's Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, describes the guidance issued by ED to schools, school districts, and state departments of education on how to effectively address bullying. ED offers a range of resources and tools for parents, educators, and students to use to stop harassment. Many of these resources are available on the StopBullying.gov Web site.
Study Examines Link Between Childhood Bullying and Adult Psychiatric Disorders
A blog post for stopbullying.gov reports on published research by Duke University professors showing that victims of childhood bullying have a greater risk of developing mental health problems later in life. The researchers conducted yearly interviews of 1,000 children (starting at ages 9, 11, and 13) and followed up with them in adulthood. Key findings include:
National Children's Advocacy Center Offers Free Online Resources
The National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) offers a wealth of free resources for practitioners in the field of child abuse prevention and response. These resources include Prevention Fact Sheets, a collection of evidence-based literature related to prevention, investigation, and treatment; best practices and guidelines; research briefs; Webinars; and Ask the Expert sessions that address emerging issues. NCAC Web site users can also earn a course-completion certificate with 1 of more than 40 free online training courses.
KIDS COUNT Data Book Addresses Trends in Child Well-Being
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book. This publication provides state and national data on 16 key indicators of child well-being across four domainseconomics, education, health, and family and communityand state rankings. Children continue to progress in the education and health domains despite the growing poverty rate. New data on America’s youngest children contribute to the ongoing conversation on the importance of early childhood education.
IACP Launches School Safety Online Training Series
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in collaboration with OJJDP, invites law enforcement, school officials, and allied stakeholders tasked with ensuring school safety to participate in a series of four school safety online trainings: “Forming Your Safe School Planning Team,” “Assessing School Safety,” “Preparing for a School Crisis,” and “Responding to a School Crisis.” These interactive, introductory level trainings are designed to assist in the development of crisis response plans to prevent and respond to events that threaten the safety of school environments. Training topics include:
These online trainings are based on IACP's and OJJDP's highly successful classroom training, “Partnerships for Safe Schools,” which has been delivered 39 times in the past 13 years to more than 1,700 law enforcement and school personnel representing 32 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas. Trainings are free, self-paced, and can be taken at any time.
All OJJDP publications may be viewed and downloaded on the publications section of the OJJDP Web site. Print publications may be ordered online at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Web site.
OJJDP Family Listening Sessions: Executive Summary (Report)
During the spring and summer of 2011, OJJDP, in collaboration with the Campaign for Youth Justice and the Education Development Center, convened four listening sessions with families and youth who have had direct experiences with the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. The goal of these sessions was to allow OJJDP, state juvenile justice agencies, and other stakeholders to learn firsthand about the experiences of system-involved families and to explore ways to improve family engagement to ensure better outcomes for children and youth. This report summarizes the discussions, which focused on four broad topic areas: the expectations and the reality of families' first encounters with the system, whether the needs of youth were met during the child's period of confinement, how the family was treated and served while their child was confined, and the availability of aftercare services.
To view and download this publication, visit the NCJRS Web site.
Highlights of the 2011 National Youth Gang Survey (InFocus Fact Sheet)
This fact sheet provides an overview of findings from the 2011 National Youth Gang Survey. Since 1996, the National Gang Center 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 2011 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.
On July 26, 2013, members of the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Assessing Juvenile Justice Reform presented the results of an OJJDP-commissioned study at a meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. OJJDP tasked NRC with reviewing recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and its implications for juvenile reform.
Dr. Robert L. Johnson, Committee Chair and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Rutgers University—New Jersey Medical School; Dr. Edward Mulvey, Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Gladys Carrion, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, provided an overview of the committee's findings and recommendations contained in the report, Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. For more information on the recommendations, read the article, "National Research Council Report on Juvenile Justice Reform Highlighted at Coordinating Council Meeting" in this issue.
Meetings of the council are open to the public. Visit the Web site to register for the next meeting, learn more about the council, and read minutes from past meetings.
At a Web-facilitated meeting on August 12, 2013, subcommittees of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (FACJJ) presented draft recommendations in four key areas: evidence-based practices, youth engagement, school discipline, and disproportionate minority contact. Upon final approval by FACJJ, the recommendations will be submitted to the President, the Congress, and the OJJDP Administrator.
In introductory remarks, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee highlighted, among other topics, a recently released OJJDP-funded National Research Council (NRC) report recommending that a developmental approach that emphasizes positive youth development rather than a reliance on detention and incarceration and other harsh forms of punishment is compatible with the juvenile justice system's goals of holding youth accountable for their actions, preventing further offending, and providing youth with appropriate rehabilitative services. For more information on the NRC report, read the lead story, “National Research Council Report on Juvenile Justice Reform Highlighted at Coordinating Council Meeting.” Administrator Listenbee also stressed the importance of trauma-informed approaches in juvenile justice practice. The vast majority of children involved in the juvenile justice system have survived exposure to violence and are living with the trauma of that experience.
The committee's meetings are open to the public; anyone may register to attend and observe. OJJDP anticipates that FACJJ will convene to deliberate its final recommendations later this year. Additional information is available on the committee's Web site.
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 is 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.