Day 72 – Challenging Juvenile Delinquency

The Crime Report: Juvenile Homicides Rose Amid Overall Crime Decline. Homicide cases in juvenile courts around the U.S. jumped by 35 percent between 2014 and 2018, the Justice Department says in a new report. In a separate report on juvenile arrest data emphasized that in 2018, law enforcement agencies made the fewest arrests of juveniles in nearly four decades, an estimated 728,280 arrests of youths under 18. The total peaked in 1996, when it was well above 2,500,000. Still, homicide is the most serious crime, so an increase in that category is notable. It is suggested that drug-related killings resulting from the opioid epidemic was “significant contributor”.

Wiki: The current debate on juvenile justice reform in the United States focuses on the root of racial and economic discrepancies in the incarcerated youth population. Low-income youth, youth of color and youth with learning and cognitive disabilities are over-represented in the justice system and disproportionately targeted by zero tolerance policies. Collectively this creates the school-to-prison pipeline – a phenomenon that contributes to more students falling behind, dropping out and eventually being funneled into the juvenile justice system.

Youth.gov: We now know that the better and more cost-effective place to stop the “cradle to prison pipeline” is as close to the beginning of that pipeline as possible. Early intervention prevents the onset of delinquent behavior and supports the development of a youth’s assets and resilience. While many past approaches focus on remediating visible and/or longstanding disruptive behavior, research has shown that prevention and early intervention are more effective.

One positive youth development model addresses the six life domains of work, education, relationships, community, health, and creativity. The two key assets needed by all youth are (1) learning/doing and (2) attaching/belonging. When the necessary supports and services are provided to assist youth in the six life domains, it is expected that positive outcomes will result. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) lists over 600 programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency, filtered by numerous user criteria. 

When prevention has failed, intervention is required. When I was a troubled teen (aka juvenile delinquent) my mother threatened military school. That did get my attention for a minute but didn’t curb my overall trajectory. My turn-around came through the Christian Drug Rehabilitation program, Teen Challenge which coupled biblical training along with hard work. Personally, I am a fan of the various wilderness encounter programs which have generally had positive outcomes. NIJ report

  • Outward Bound: taking youth into the wilderness and changing their lives through challenge and adventure. Donate.
  • ANASAZI Foundation: designed for youth 13-17 years old who are struggling with substance abuse, emotional, or behavioral concerns
  • Confluence: Exploring opportunity for positive change through intentional outdoor activity
  • Aspiro: Wilderness Therapy Program for Struggling Teens & Young Adults
  • Wildreness Quest (formally Vision Quest): Rites of Passage offer the opportunity for youth to confirm and celebrate their entry into adulthood
  • Pacific Quest: Metamorphosis and Transformation

Literature Review of Wilderness Camps by OJJDP.gov. Does wilderness therapy reduce recidivism in delinquent adolescents? Scholarly Review.