The juvenile justice system, in a sense, functions to replace a core family function: discipline of a child. While this is an important governmental role in some cases, it is necessary to ensure that families are not unnecessarily displaced, and in fact included in juvenile justice to the highest degree possible.
This is why family based juvenile justice programs often are very successful. Such programs return parents to their natural role of disciplinarian, and ensure that parents and youths are able to move forward with as little state involvement as possible.
Jackson County, Missouri, has adopted this precept with their Family Court program. The Family Court uses Parenting with Love and Limits theories, which seek to arm parents with the tools they need to discipline and control youths at home, and avoid placement in a secure facility.
Thirty-six families each year engage in eight weeks of home and group sessions that involve coaching parents through proper discipline, rewards, and punishments, as well as behavior contracts that strictly delineate proper boundaries for youth behavior.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation discussed the positive outcomes of Parenting with Love and Limits in the reentry setting earlier this year; the family focus used to avoid secure confinement in Missouri can similarly set juveniles on the path to law-abiding lives and positive family relationships.
The post above is reprinted with permission from the blog of Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a research institute in Austin, TX.
Jeanette Moll is a juvenile justice policy analyst in the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining TPPF, she served as a legislative aide in the Wisconsin Legislature, where she dealt with various policy issues, media affairs, and constituent outreach. Moll earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then earned a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where she served on the board of the Texas Review of Litigation and interned with a federal bankruptcy judge, a Texas appellate court judge, and a central Texas law office.
*Photo at top by Flickr user sfalkow
Updated: March 21 2018