There are so many noteworthy aspects to the “first ever” Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. For example, it is grounded in the best evidence available to date and it examines issues of neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, and health care systems. It also has educational and promotional materials such as fact sheets and social media ideas and resources. If you have not reviewed it – now is the time. It’s my understanding that additional fact sheets are forthcoming including one on criminal/juvenile justice populations. As such, keep visiting the website for updates and let’s keep talking about this report and its importance to individuals, families, and communities impacted by substance misuse and/or disorders.
According to a recent report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, investing in high-quality early care and education could reduce the likelihood that children will commit crimes and be arrested, saving state governments millions of dollars long-term. The anti-crime organization stated in its report, Pay Now or Pay Much More Later, that high-quality pre-kindergarten and other early learning programs can prevent children from ever reaching this path towards prison.
Critical years for child development are considered from birth to age five, when a child’s brain is most rapidly developing. Early investment in quality education during this period can have significant long-term effects on a child’s future, and help build safer communities. Evidence from several studies shows that this investment can reduce the likelihood that a child will be sentenced to jail or prison and increase their chances of graduating from high school.
Studies show that 75 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events; 50 percent have endured post-traumatic stress symptoms. Additionally, system-involved youth who have been exposed to trauma are more likely to face overt behavioral and academic challenges.
Exposure to child trauma can lead to high-risk behaviors such as fighting, running away, and substance abuse, as well as the inability to focus in class, overreacting, and poor self-regulation. These behaviors ultimately increase their chances of entering the juvenile justice system or returning to juvenile courts for a repeated time. This vicious cycle has many officials within the juvenile and education systems concerned about how to handle these troubled and vulnerable adolescents.
The National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships examines this critical issue in their recent report Responding to Students Affected by Trauma: Collaborating Across Public Systems. The report examines the long-term effects child trauma, particularly for those served by public agencies.
Do social networks influence delinquent youth behavior? A team of researchers at the Urban Institute, in partnership with Temple University, just released a report titled Social Networks, Delinquency, and Gang Membership: Using a Neighborhood Framework to Examine the Influence of Network Composition and Structure in a Latino Community. Caterina G. Roman and Carlena Orosco of Temple University, Meagan Cahill, Pamela Lachman, Samantha Lowry (with Megan Denver and Juan Pedroza) of the Urban Institute, and Christopher McCarty of the University of Florida authored the piece.
The report explores the nature of links which bind youth to groups and their associated social contexts. This study employed a social network framework in order to better understand patterns and relationships between youth in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Maryland, which is home to a large proportion of high-risk minors. The authors conducted a three-part network survey with 147 youth, with the goal of surveying all youth between the ages of 14 and 21 living in the target neighborhood.
The National Center for Juvenile Justice has published a new report, "Juvenile Court Statistics 2008," developed with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
Drawing on data from the National Juvenile Court Data Archive (the myriad data sets include age, gender, race, entry and detention rates, etc.), the report profiles more than 1.6 million delinquency cases that U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled in 2008. It also describes the trends in delinquency cases processed by juvenile courts between 1985 and 2008 and the status offense cases they handled between 1995 and 2008.
You can read and download the report (PDF file) here.