All of us during our lives as children, adolescents and eventually adults need some encouragement. As the individuals we are, we tend to learn differently, have different perspectives and take risks on different levels. For those like myself, words of encouragement were really needed in my life to fulfill my true potential in the activities that I engaged in.
We often assume that teens land in the juvenile justice system because they're "villains" or victims (of trauma, circumstance, or a behavioral health issue like substance abuse). But what if we used a different lens? What if we assumed that teens commit crimes to meet needs typical of of all adolescents? After all, during this phase of development, teens want excitement, power, status, and a sense of belonging. (Plus, they're not strong on empathy, paving the way for criminal behavior.)
Using this lens instead of a villain/victim lens means changing what we do. It means working with communities to help teens meet their developmental needs in more positive, constructive ways, so they can live crime-free lives.