An Introduction to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) was created by Congress in 1974 to help communities and States prevent delinquency and improve their juvenile justice systems. A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, OJJDP is the primary Federal agency responsible for addressing the issues of juvenile crime and delinquency and the problem of missing and exploited children, which Congress added to OJJDP's legislative mandate in 1984.

Although the nature and extent of delinquency and abuse have changed over the past 23 years, OJJDP has remained a steadying influence, providing national leadership, coordination, and resources to help States and local communities meet the new challenges they are facing in their juvenile justice systems. These challenges include a multitude of problems: intolerably high rates of juvenile violence and delinquency, victimization, school dropout, teen pregnancy, and illegal drug use, and increasing child abuse and neglect cases. In addition, many juvenile justice and dependency court systems, already overburdened, are being forced to address the human fallout resulting from unstable families that lack parenting skills, communities with inadequate health and mental health support networks, fragmented social service delivery systems, a shortage of constructive activities for young people, and easy access to guns and drugs.

To help juvenile justice and social service professionals meet these challenges, OJJDP funds critical research and demonstration programs, provides technical assistance and training, produces and distributes publications containing the most up-to-date juvenile justice related information available, oversees the Missing and Exploited Children's Program, and administers formula and discretionary grants programs.

This annual report describes OJJDP's major accomplishments in these areas during 1996 and 1997, discusses the philosophy that guided program plans, and summarizes the most recent data available on juveniles taken into custody. These activities reflect OJJDP's continuing commitment to address the crisis of youth violence and delinquency in this country and to help its citizens respond more effectively.

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998