The report documents the pervasiveness of mental health problems among youth in general and young offenders in particular. The
report explains why parents may be forced to surrender their
children to the juvenile court because they cannot receive
assistance with mental health problems anywhere else. It shows
how poverty, race, gender, and sexual orientation may block young
offenders from accessing mental health services. In addition to
exposing the myriad systemic shortcomings and lack of effective,
integrated mental health assessment and treatment services for
juvenile offenders, this report also profiles effective programs
of mental health service delivery for young offenders. Treatment
methods that focus on rebuilding a child's family structure while
ensuring that he/she receives intensive therapy have reduced
recidivism among young offenders by as much as 80 percent.
Moreover, there are early detection, prevention, and intervention efforts that reach children before emotional distress turns into mental health problem or a mental illness, and before children engage in dangerous or delinquent activity. The continuum of care recommended encompasses prevention programs; screening and
assessment opportunities; community-based intervention and
treatment programs that address and take into account the many
factors related to mental health disorders; and institutional
care and aftercare that provide appropriate treatment for youth
who must be confined for their own safety and for public safety.
Recommendations are offered for the U.S. President, the U.S.
Congress, the administration of the Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice,
State advisory groups, States and localities, juvenile justice
facilities, mental health professionals and community,
communities and families, youth, and the American public.
Glossary, resource list, and a 95-item bibliography