In Michigan, 17-year-olds are not allowed to buy lottery tickets, get a tattoo, rent a car or hotel room or drop out of school. They can’t vote, serve on a jury or sign a legal contract either, presumably because they don’t possess the requisite maturity to make adult-level decisions. This distinction, however, is tossed out the window if a 17-year-old breaks the law. Suddenly, they are adults, facing devastating repercussions that can come with an adult conviction.
Youth placed in juvenile justice institutions face a fundamental obstacle in their career pathway: They have been removed from their communities and lack access to the full array of educational and job...
It’s not every day that people working on health collaborate closely with people who think about how to reform the juvenile justice system. I was recently part of a research project that did just that.
I openly admit that transitioning from avoiding the trauma issue to becoming a trauma-informed and responsive organization wasn’t easy, but the value of that transformation is facilitating better outcomes for the children we serve. If we as service providers don’t take the trauma issue straight on, we are doing the children who are counting on us for help a disservice.
Although it’s too soon to tell if integrating trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) sciences is making a difference for the teens living at Home on the Range, a residential treatment center in Sentinel Butte, North Dakota, it’s made a huge difference for the people who work there.
It is essential that trauma-informed reforms go beyond simply acknowledging that many justice-involved youth have been traumatized, and provide practical skills that adults and youths together can use.
Girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system is growing disproportionately at a time when arrest rates for boys are declining. And yet, girls’ behavior has not changed; rather, our response to their behavior has changed. This is especially true for girls in the child welfare system.