As the OJJDP Administrator pointed out in his Foreword to this Report, OJJDP's actions during FY 1996 and FY 1997 took place in a period that saw the juvenile crime rate drop while juvenile violence drew increasing concern from parents, schools, and the community. In this environment, OJJDP sought to provide leadership not only in responding to current problems but also in developing long-term strategies to keep today's children from falling prey to the lure of gangs, drugs, guns, and violence. It did this on many fronts.
OJJDP's Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders -- which fostered community-based prevention programs to reduce risk factors for juvenile crime and provide buffering protective factors -- provided direction for many OJJDP initiatives during 1996 and 1997. OJJDP also worked with other Federal agencies on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to build on Combating Violence and Delinquency: The National Juvenile Justice Action Plan, endorsed by the Coordinating Council in 1996, to help communities take actions to combat juvenile crime and provide positive opportunities for youth. In cooperation with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, OJJDP funded early intervention programs with very young school- children and studies that examined health-related factors that may contribute to delinquency and substance abuse.
Other OJJDP programs supported mentoring, family strengthening, improved court handling of child abuse and neglect cases, and other positive approaches to preventing delinquency. In cooperation with the Department of Education, the Office sought to heighten awareness of hate crimes, providing a curriculum and special training to help educators and law enforcement personnel respond to such crimes and prevent them in the future.
At the same time, OJJDP's Missing and Exploited Children's Program continued doing research and providing technical assistance, and it continued to fund the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, whose goal of implementing a missing children's clearinghouse in every State was reached in 1997. The center hosted seminars for policy-level law enforcement executives and distributed OJJDP's series of Portable Guides, small, practical booklets to help police officers and medical and social service professionals investigate child abuse and neglect cases.
Through its Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, OJJDP has provided a central means of disseminating information and publications. During 1996 and 1997, OJJDP took advantage of new technologies to more effectively reach juvenile justice audiences. The World Wide Web, CD-ROM, and satellite videoconferencing now supplement conferences as a means of sharing information on juvenile justice issues.
The largest share of funds went to OJJDP's Formula Grants Programs, Title V/Community Prevention Grant Program, and State Challenge Activities Program -- all of them designed to give States and localities help in combating juvenile crime and keeping at-risk youth from getting into the juvenile justice system. The Formula Grants have led to steady progress in deinstitutionalizing status offenders, keeping juveniles out of adult jails and lockups, and getting States to identify the proportion of minority juveniles in secure detention. The Community Prevention Grant Program succeeded during 1996 and 1997 in bringing broad groups of community residents together to design prevention programs based on their specific needs. The State Challenge Activities Program, too, enlisted wide State participation, with nearly all States addressing at least 2 of the 10 activities for which funds are provided.
The coordinated, comprehensive approaches OJJDP has pursued in 1996 and 1997 offer States and localities flexibility to develop approaches and programs in tune with their own needs and benefiting from broad community participation. OJJDP's approaches have been coordinated and comprehensive on the Federal level as well, many of them carried out jointly with other departments and agencies in recognition that the provision of effective and fair juvenile justice -- and the prevention of delinquency -- is not within the purview of a single agency but is the responsibility of society as a whole.