Although the juvenile crime rate is dropping, episodes of youth violence continue to appear on the nightly news all too often. While the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) does not claim to have a magical solution to end the violence, we have developed a comprehensive strategy that is helping many communities make a difference in the fight to prevent juvenile delinquency. The concept behind the strategy is very similar to the "broken windows" strategy that cities are using to respond to street crime. Just as police in many communities now react aggressively to the first signs of deterioration, such as broken windows in a neighborhood, communities need to react aggressively to the warning signals many juveniles are sending out. Rather than ignoring these signals, we at OJJDP advocate having a plan in place to address the symptoms of trouble -- a comprehensive plan that runs the gamut from prevention to intervention and treatment activities.

That is why OJJDP built much of its programming the past 2 years around the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders. This Comprehensive Strategy, described more fully elsewhere in this Report, provides the Nation with a promising way, based on research, to tackle juvenile delinquency and crime. It holds offenders accountable for their actions and provides them with opportunities for rehabilitation. It also provides approaches for dealing with the small percentage of juvenile offenders who account for the most serious and violent crimes. Finally, it offers strategies for working with juveniles at risk of committing delinquent acts before they become involved with the juvenile justice system. But most important, it shows communities how to develop the coordinated, comprehensive approaches that are so necessary to help them deal with juvenile crime. "Coordinated" and "comprehensive" are the key words here. We know from past experience that piecemeal approaches will not get the job done.

To illustrate our commitment to the Comprehensive Strategy, we funded several programs in fiscal years (FY) 1996 and 1997 to help communities implement it. Because we know from our research that children who are abused or neglected often resort to delinquent or violent behavior later in life, we also funded a community-based initiative to break this cycle before it begins. We are especially excited that many of the communities participating in the Community Prevention Grants Program funded under Title V have centered their programs around the Comprehensive Strategy.

While the Comprehensive Strategy was the cornerstone of our programs in FY 1996 and 1997, we addressed many other issues as well. We worked diligently to disseminate information about programs that work to a wide variety of audiences. Our dissemination activities included a highly successful national conference, well-received publications, and numerous satellite videoconferences. We also funded programs to help communities address juvenile gangs, youth gun violence, and juvenile sex offenders. Our Missing and Exploited Children's Program had many accomplishments as well, including a major new training center for law enforcement personnel, several highly acclaimed publications, and the release of findings from a major missing child homicide study. Finally, our Formula Grants Program, working closely with the States, continued to make significant improvements in the way these jurisdictions deal with juvenile offenders.

Although we are proud of our many accomplishments, much work remains. We must continue to help communities coordinate programs and resources and provide a continuum of care for their young people. Everyone -- individuals, community leaders, law enforcement, social services agencies, parents, educators -- must work together to protect our children from victimization and our Nation from delinquent and violent juvenile offenders.

This Report highlights only a selected sample of OJJDP activities. All the programs funded in 1996 and 1997 are described in greater detail in the Comprehensive Program Plan for Fiscal Year 1996 (OJJDP Program Objectives) and in the proposed 1998 Program Plan published in the Federal Register on February 6, 1998.

Even though there are no quick fixes, I believe the programs OJJDP funded are a step in the right direction and have the potential to make a tremendous impact. I hope you will find the information in this Report useful, and that you will join OJJDP in our efforts to rescue at-risk children from delinquent behavior and violent futures, and to keep our communities safe.

Shay Bilchik
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998