Juvenile Justice

Myth Busters: National Reentry and Medicaid

The Interagency Reentry Council, led by Attorney General Holder, produces a series of Reentry Myth Busters that clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.

Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach

The report, “Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach,” highlights evidence that indicates that during adolescence the brain is still immature; adolescents are less able to regulate their behavior, they are more sensitive to external influences (such as peer pressure and immediate reward), and they show less ability to make judgments and decisions that require future orientation. Thus, accountability practices should not be carried over from criminal courts (which are designed for adult offenders) to juvenile courts.

Secretary Duncan Hosts First Meeting with National Council of Young Leaders

The National Council of Young Leaders is a newly established council with a diverse group of young people.  The council, which launched on September 19, has 14 founding members ranging in ages 18-34, representing both urban and rural low- income areas, who advise policy makers, business leaders and foundations on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities.

LGBT

Sexual orientation and gender are important aspects of a young person’s identity. Understanding and expressing sexual orientation and gender and developing related identities are typical development tasks that vary across children and youth. For example, some youth may be unsure of their sexual orientation, whereas others have been clear about it since childhood and have expressed it since a young age.1 Expressing and exploring gender identity and roles is also a part of normal development.2 The process of understanding and expressing one’s sexual orientation and gender identity is unique to each individual. It is not a one-time event and personal, cultural, and social factors may influence how one expresses their sexual orientation and gender identity.3

Unfortunately, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience various challenges because of how others respond to their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. This is also true for youth who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or may be perceived as LGBT or gender variant by others.4 A landmark 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report reviewed research on the health of LGBT individuals, including youth. Although this research is limited, the IOM report found that “the disparities in both mental and physical health that are seen between LGBT and heterosexual and non-gender-variant youth are influenced largely by their experiences of stigma and discrimination during the development of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”5 These negative experiences include high rates of physical and emotional bias and violence; rejection by families and peers; and inadequate supports in schools, employment, and communities because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Stress associated with these experiences can put LGBT young people at risk for negative health outcomes. Research shows that due to these environmental challenges, LGBT youth are at risk for negative health outcomes and are more likely to attempt suicide, experience homelessness, and use illegal drugs.6 These issues may also contribute to anxiety, depressive symptoms, and feelings of isolation. Youth who express their gender in ways that vary from societal expectations for their perceived sex or gender are at risk for high levels of childhood physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.7 They are also at risk for school victimization.8 As a result, they may have poorer well-being than lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers whose gender expression is more closely aligned with societal expectations.9

To date, most research on LGBT youth has focused on the risk factors and disparities they experience compared with youth who are not LGBT. However, emerging research on resiliency and protective factors offers a strength-based focus on LGBT youth well-being. Addressing LGBT-related stigma, discrimination, and violence; building on the strengths of LGBT youth; and fostering supports such as family acceptance and safe, affirming environments in schools and other settings will help improve outcomes for LGBT young people. Federal and local policies and practices increasingly acknowledge and focus on the experiences and needs of LGBT youth. Numerous national advocacy and other organizations are also giving greater attention to LGBT youth in their work.10 Fostering safe, affirming communities and youth-serving settings such as schools for all youth requires efforts to address the challenges described here. At the same time, it is also important to acknowledge and build on the strengths, resilience, and factors that protect LGBT youth from risk, such as connection to caring adults and peers and family acceptance.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Risks Among Sexual Minority Youth
This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information on protective factors and data related to health risks and sexual minority youth.

1 Institute of Medicine, 2011; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
2 Institute of Medicine, 2011; Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
3 Poirier, Fisher, Hunt, & Bearse, 2014
4 Gender variant youth are not necessarily LGBT. In fact, any youth who does not fit typical social expectations for his or her mannerisms, behavior, or choice of clothing based on birth-assigned gender, for example, can be considered “gender variant.” This does not mean the youth is lesbian, gay, or bisexual—or identifies as a gender different from what he or she was assigned at birth (i.e., transgender).
5 Institute of Medicine, 2011, p. 142
6 Hunter & Schaecher, 1987; Reis, 1999; Reis & Saewyc, 1999; Ray, 2006; Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009; SAMHSA, 2014
7 Roberts, Rosario, Corliss, Koenen, & Austin, 2012
8 Toomey, Ryan, Diaz, & Russell, 2010
9 Rieger & Savin-Williams, 2012
10 American Association of School Administrators et al., n.d.; National Association of School Nurses, 2003; National Association of School Psychologists, 2006

Juvenile Justice

Youth under the age of 18 who are accused of committing a delinquent or criminal act are typically processed through a juvenile justice system1. While similar to that of the adult criminal justice system in many ways—processes include arrest, detainment, petitions, hearings, adjudications, dispositions, placement, probation, and reentry—the juvenile justice process operates according to the premise that youth are fundamentally different from adults, both in terms of level of responsibility and potential for rehabilitation. The primary goals of the juvenile justice system, in addition to maintaining public safety, are skill development, habilitation, rehabilitation, addressing treatment needs, and successful reintegration of youth into the community.

Learn more about the juvenile justice process.

1States, however, have the right to set lower age thresholds for processing youth through the adult system. In addition, some states automatically process any individual, regardless of age, through the adult criminal justice system for some serious offenses.

Providing Unbiased Services for LGBTQ Youth Project

The Providing Unbiased Services for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Youth Project is a collaborative effort that originated in Multnomah County, Oregon and focuses on training staff and encouraging policy changes to provide unbiased services for LGBTQ youth in in-home and out-of-home care settings.

The collaboration structure includes

Youth M.O.V.E. National: Making a Difference through Youth-Adult Partnerships

Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (M.O.V.E.) National is a youth and young-adult led national advocacy organization that wants to change the world. The organization is devoted to improving services and systems that support young people. They focus on empowering young people to partner with adults to create meaningful change in mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare systems. The organization represents 77 chapters, consisting of 9,000 members across 39 states.

Youth M.O.V.E. National: Making a Difference through Youth-Adult Partnerships

Youth Motivating Others through Voices of Experience (M.O.V.E.) National is a youth and young-adult led national advocacy organization that wants to change the world. The organization is devoted to improving services and systems that support young people. They focus on empowering young people to partner with adults to create meaningful change in mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare systems. The organization represents 77 chapters, consisting of 9,000 members across 39 states.

Suicide Prevention

Developmentally, the years between childhood and adulthood represent a critical period of transition and significant cognitive, mental, emotional, and social change. While adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and potential, navigating new milestones in preparation for adult roles involving education, employment, relationships, and living circumstances can be difficult. These transitions can lead to various mental health challenges that can be associated with increased risk for suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth age 15-24.1 Approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year.2 One out of every 53 high school students reports having made a suicide attempt that was serious enough to be treated by a doctor or a nurse.3 For each suicide death among young people, there may be as many as 100 to 200 suicide attempts.4 For some groups of youth—including those who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; American Indian/Alaska Native; and military service members—the incidence of suicidal behavior is even higher.5

Despite how common suicidal thoughts and attempts (as well as mental health disorders which can be associated with increased risk for suicide) are among youth, there is a great deal known about prevention as well as caring for youth and communities after an attempt or death. Parents, guardians, family members, friends, teachers, school administrators, coaches and extracurricular activity leaders, mentors, service providers, and many others can play a role in preventing suicide and supporting youth.

Key Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
hotlineThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. When you call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are connected to the nearest crisis center in a national network of more than 150 that provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night. The Lifeline also provides informational materials, such as brochures, wallet cards, posters, and booklets. Prestamos servicios en español (1-888-628-9454). Translators speaking approximately 150 languages are available.

2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (PDF, 184 pages) 
The National Strategy is a call to action from the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to guide suicide prevention in the United States. The National Strategy includes 13 goals and 60 objectives that reflect advances in suicide prevention knowledge, research, and practice, as well as broader changes in society and health care delivery.

Resources and Information on Suicide from SAMHSA
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funds and supports the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. It manages the Garrett Lee Smith grant program, which funds State, Territorial, and Tribal programs to prevent suicide among youth. SAMHSA developed the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), which reviews evidence of effectiveness for prevention programs on topics related to behavioral health, including suicide. SAMHSA also sponsors prevention campaigns and provides resources.

Injury Prevention and Control: Suicide Resources from CDC
Resources, publications and articles on suicide, prevention, and risk from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including links to some statistical databases, including WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System), YRBSS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System), National Violent Death Reporting System, and National Vital Statistics System.

Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts among U.S. High School Students: Trends and Associated Health-Risk Behaviors, 1991-2011
This article published in the Journal of Adolescent Health describes trends in suicidal thoughts and attempts and the types of associated health-risk behaviors among high school students.

Suicides — United States, 2005–2009
This report from the CDC provides data on suicide in the United States and differences in the characteristics of those who have died from suicide.

Suicide Information from the National Institute of Mental Health
Information on suicide prevention, treatment, and resources from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)—funded by SAMHSA—helps strengthen suicide prevention efforts of state, tribal, community, and campus organizations and coalitions as well as organizations that serve populations with high suicide rates. It provides technical assistance, training, resource materials and a newsletter, an online library, and customized information for professionals working to prevent suicide. SPRC also co-produces the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention.

Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention
The Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention is funded by the CDC to promote a public health approach to suicide research and prevention. It conducts research, provides technical assistance, and organizes conference calls, webinars, and an annual Research Training Institute for those engaged in suicide-related research and working in the field of suicide prevention.

Youth Risk and Behavior Survey: Data Summary and Trends Report, 2007 - 2017

This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report provides data summary and trend information on varying topics, including mental health and suicide.

1 CDC, 2011
2 Eaton et al., 2010
3 Eaton et al., 2010
4 McIntosh, 2010
5 HHS, 2012

Violence Prevention

Youth violence is a significant problem that affects thousands of young people each day, and in turn, their families, schools, and communities.1 Youth violence and crime affect a community's economic health, as well as individuals' physical and mental health and well-being. Homicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in the United States.2 In 2016, more than 530,000 young people ages 10-24 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from violence.3

Youth violence typically involves young people hurting other peers. It can take different forms. Examples include fights, bullying, threats with weapons, and gang-related violence. A young person can be involved with youth violence as a victim, offender, or witness.

Youth violence is preventable. To prevent and eliminate violence and improve youth well-being, communities should employ evidence-based, comprehensive approaches that address the multiple factors that impact violence, both factors that increase risk of violence and factors that buffer against risk and promote positive youth development and well-being.

Prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies that are trauma-informed are key. Many youth have experienced traumatic events, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; family and community violence; natural disasters; and the ongoing, cumulative impact of poverty, racism, and oppression. Repeated exposure to traumatic events increases the risk of youth violence. Organizational trauma-informed care that is grounded in an understanding of the causes and consequences of trauma can promote resilience and healing, while reducing youth violence.

Prevention cannot be accomplished by one sector alone. Justice, public health, education, health care (mental, behavioral, medical), government (local, state, and federal), social services, business, housing, media, and organizations that comprise the civil society sector, such as faith-based organizations, youth-serving organizations, foundations, and other non-governmental organizations all need to play a role. In addition, the voices of children, youth, and families who are most affected by violence must be front and center. Collectively, we can prevent and eliminate violence and improve well-being.

Resources

SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach (PDF, 27 pages)
The purpose of this publication, developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is to develop a working concept of trauma and a trauma-informed approach, and to develop a shared understanding of these concepts that would be acceptable and appropriate across an array of service systems and stakeholder groups. This framework is for the behavioral health specialty sectors, but can be adapted to other sectors such as child welfare, education, criminal and juvenile justice, primary health care, and the military.

SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
This webpage, focused on trauma and trauma-informed approaches, is geared towards health, behavioral health and integrated care leadership, staff, and patients/consumers. The information and resources provided can be easily adapted to other groups and settings such as schools.

Shared Framework for Reducing Youth Violence and Promoting Well Being (PDF, 15 pages)
The Shared Framework draws upon previously developed frameworks and models and incorporates the research and programmatic evidence base that the federal, state, and local partners have built over three decades across multiple disciplines. This includes key elements of current and past initiatives—the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Defending Childhood, and the Community-based Violence Prevention program—and other federal youth violence work of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Administration for Children and Families, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VetoViolence Portal
VetoViolence is CDC’s online source of free violence prevention trainings, tools, and resources.

Violence Reduction Response Center
This VRCC resource from the Bureau of Justice Assistance provides free, timely, direct access to expert staff who can connect users to the most relevant violent crime reduction training and technical assistance. Violence reduction professionals, law enforcement agencies, victims’ groups, and other practitioners in the field can use the VRRC as a one-stop shop to connect to resources that fit their unique needs.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2018a
2 CDC, 2018b
2 CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2018