Ideas and Opinions

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OP-ED: Juvenile Sex Offender Registries Don’t Make Us Safer

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Sex offenders are people, too. You probably won’t see that on bumper stickers soon, but it is the sentiment I try to convey when explaining my views of how our society should respond to sexual offenses committed by children. It’s one thing to tell an audience that research studies show young sex offenders respond well to treatment and — when reached with appropriate therapy — are not likely to offend again. But research and data don’t carry the impact of a personal story. As part of the follow up to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s recent report on juvenile sex offenses, we have begun interviewing young people who have been adjudicated for a sex offense to see how conviction and registration statutes have changed their lives. Continue Reading →

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OP-ED: How Do We Build Resilience Among Youth?

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How can the juvenile justice system — and other agencies that serve children — build post-traumatic resilience among youth? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest foundation dedicated to improving the health of all Americans, is exploring how it can contribute to ending the culture of violence and trauma that is an obstacle to good health for too many vulnerable Americans. We cannot call ourselves a healthy nation if we continue to be a violent one. A new report from the Juvenile Law Center, commissioned by RWJF, makes it clear that in addition to providing trauma-informed services, we need to be mindful of how we use our knowledge of a child's trauma to help and not to hurt. The report, “Trauma and Resilience: A New Look at Legal Advocacy for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems,” provides a vital look at how system involvement — in the juvenile justice or child welfare system — can cause trauma, or exacerbate underlying trauma caused by sexual abuse, violence, the death of a loved one, witnessing violence and other experiences. Continue Reading →

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