How do you reduce school violence?
It's easy: you get serious about restorative justice.
At least that's the conclusion I draw from an excellent report, "Improving School Climate: Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Justice." The report, from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), provides intriguing data from six U.S. schools and four Canadian and British schools showing significant drops in school suspensions and "behavioral incidents."
*Image by spunkinator from Flickr (CC License).
How do you reduce school violence?
Missed last week's webinar Mac Prichard and I did on using social media for juvenile justice? No fear.
You can download the PowerPoint presentation and a resource sheet packed with helpful weblinks from the webinar's sponsor, Coalition of Juvenile Justice, or from Reclaiming Futures, where you can also grab a recording of the webinar itself.
- Trying to engage your community? You might be interested in this training on asset-based community development, to be held September 10-12, 2009, in Chicago.
- Here's another way of looking at a report we posted about last week from the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA): 95.6% - an estimated $357.4 billion -- of federal and state substance abuse spending in 2005 went to dealing with the costs of addiction, rather than treatment or prevention. Guess what would be cheaper ...
The Reclaiming Futures site in Orange/Chatham Counties, North Carolina received some welcome press yesterday from the Herald-Sun newspaper.
The story's available only if you're a subscriber to the paper, so here's a summary: it succinctly described the local site's efforts to coordinate alcohol and substance abuse treatment for kids in the justice system and included a call to community members to spend time with teens and help connect them to positive activites.
Quoted in the article were Reclaiming Futures Fellows Judge Beverly Scarlett, Billie Guthrie (project director), and Peggy Hamlett (chief juvenile court counselor). Congratulations to the whole team!
A few weeks back, I posted a "parents' bill of rights" from Texas, so it's only fitting that I also post a strength-based bill of rights for youth in the justice system (see p. 3 of the linked document) created by Laura Nissen, the National Director of Reclaiming Futures.
Now there's a model bill of rights for children in the justice system from the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, and a list of states introducing it as legislation this year: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.
- The Center for Study of Social Policy has posted a new database tracking juvenile justice legislation from around the country.
- Here's a handy tax calculator from the Marin Institute, to help policymakers easily determine the potential financial impacts of raising alcohol taxes at the state or national level.
One of the big challenges every jurisdiction faces is getting meaningful outcome data across different systems that serve children -- e.g., juvenile justice, teen alcohol and drug treatment, child welfare, children's mental health, schools, and so on. This is such an important challenge, in fact, that it's at the heart of the Reclaiming Futures model and the work done by our individual sites.
If you're working on this in your own jurisdiction, tune in June 4, 2009 to, "Health, Education, and Child Welfare: Measuring Outcomes across Systems," a webcast sponsored by the Chapin Hall Center for Children and the Urban Institute. (If you're in Chicago, you may be able to attend in person.) The event will be broadcast from 10am - 11:30am EST / 7am - 8:30am PST; if you can't make it, webcasts are usually archived by the Chapin Hall Center for Children.
Upcoming Trainings, Conferences & a Call for Conference Proposals
- The National Association of Youth Courts -- youth courts, teen courts, student courts, and peer courts -- will hold a regional training in Salt Lake City, UT, June 7-9, 2009.
- Chestnut Health Systems is holding a train-the-trainer GAIN training July 21-24, 2009, in Normal, IL.
- The United States Department of Education is holding its Safe and Drug-Free Schools Conference in August 3-5 in National Harbor, MD.
- Presentation proposals for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Ensuring Safe and Fair Treatment of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System conference are due June 5, 2009, according to the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN).
- The Harlem's Children's Zone (featured in Paul Tough's book, "Whatever it Takes") hasn't just produced good results, it's produced amazing results, according to this editorial by David Brooks in The New York Times. The Harvard economist who evaluated the charter schools in the Zone, wrote, “The results changed my life as a researcher because I am no longer interested in marginal changes.”
Looking for a succinct, convincing brief to support your case that keeping teens out of the justice system actually cuts crime and saves money?
Look no further than the Justice Policy Institute's (JPI) new brief, The Costs of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense. For example, check out the charts on pp. 10-11. They show that the 10 states that lowered youth populations the most in juvenile justice facilities between 1997-2006 saw violent offenses go down 9%, and non-violent offenses dropped by 16%.
Yet the 10 states who put the most kids into juvenile justice facilities during the same time period saw their violent offenses go up by 8%. While their non-violent offenses did decline, they only declined by an average of 10% -- a 6% smaller drop than was seen in states who locked up fewer kids.
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) just released a new report entitled America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice.
The report examines the most recent information available about Latino youth in the justice system, with a particular focus on youth tried as adults. The report finds that Latino youth are treated more harshly by the justice system than white youth, for similar offenses, at all stages in the justice system -- and it has recommendations for policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels.
Representatives from the NCLR and CFYJ will discuss this report on Latino teens and the justice system and take questions from the public in a podcast to be held on Thursday, May 21st, airing at 4:30pm EST/ 1:30 pm PST.
Looking for an alternative sentencing program that doesn't cost a lot of money and which seems to have significant impact on reducing recidivism and violent offenses? I've got one for you.
It's been around since 1991, has been implemented in as many as 12 states and the U.K. and involves reading and discussing books: Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL). It was created by Professor Robert Waxler of the University of Massachusetts, and Judge Robert Kane of New Bedford, MA, and begun with the help of probation officer Wayne St. Pierre.
It's getting a little late to post about our Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute, but I wanted to make sure to mention a great lunchtime performance. In the past, we've sometimes been able to include youth in our conferences; though that wasn't possible this year, we were honored to see a local youth jazz band, the Trendsetters (seen at left) perform -- they even got some of us dancing! (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Reed; click on photo to see larger version.) Though it doesn't do justice to these talented young men, you can also see a video of these teens performing on the streets of New Orleans. (It's a pretty horrible video, actually; unfortunately, they're not yet on YouTube.)
Maybe you're still wondering, like me, how we got from rotary phones to "social media." Or maybe you're wondering if tools like Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, and the like are relevant for juvenile justice or alcohol and drug treatment for teens.
Well, you're in luck: the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, in partnership with Reclaiming Futures, invites you to attend a free Webinar on the ever-growing world of social media. The event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 2, 2009.
Perhaps, like me, you didn't know that there's a genetic variation associated with impulsivity, low self-control, binge drinking, and substance use. Apparently, 40% of the population has it. (Imagine you're a teenager with that gene ... perhaps you'd be even more prone to risky behavior than most?)
Well, a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown that providing an evidence-based prevention program focusing on parenting skills has a huge impact in helping teens with this gene avoid alcohol and drug use and stay safe.
The folks over at Guys Lit Wire blog have launched a great project: a two-week Book Fair for Boys, to get good books of all sorts (and all reading levels) into the hands of the male juveniles incarcerated in the L.A. County. The best news? You can help.
Reclaiming Futures isn't mentioned by name, but its spirit is nicely evoked in this short piece on the juvenile drug court in Dayton, Ohio - one of the original 10 Reclaiming Futures sites. Congratulations, Dayton!
UPDATE: There's also a great 28-photo essay covering the kids' drug court graduation ceremony, and the speech of NBA star Daequan Cook, who came to speak to the graduates.
We've still got a few spaces left in two great webinars. Both will be closed at 75 participants, so register now!
[UPDATE: the "Bridges out of Poverty" webinar has come and gone, but there's still space in "Treatment of Adolescents with Opiod Use Disorders." Scroll down for more info!]
Here's the details:
Philip DeVol on Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities
When: Thursday, May 21st, 10:30am-12:00pm PDT / 1:30-3:00pm EDT
To Participate: scroll down to "How to Sign Up."