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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue covers the 25th anniversary of AMBER Alert, National Mentoring Month, fiscal year 2021 funding opportunities, a beneficiary of a mentoring program, instructor training for an anti-gang program, and news from the Federal Advisory Committee.
Message From the Acting Administrator
Acting OJJDP Administrator Chyrl Jones

News in Brief

February Is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

OJJDP strives to prevent youth victimization and to promote productive, crime-free lives for juveniles. The Office fulfills one component of this mission through its support for research to identify and understand how dating violence occurs, and through programs to help youth recognize the signs of abusive behaviors.

OJJDP’s Comprehensive School-Based Approach to Youth Violence and Victimization program targets youth violence and victimization through a multifaceted strategy that addresses prevention and intervention at the systems, community, and individual levels. Programming delivered in school settings helps students develop emotional self-awareness and control and positive social skills, and negotiate issues requiring problem solving and conflict resolution. Some of the programs offer skills for students involved in abusive relationships. 

For example, OJJDP grantee Lancaster County (SC) Partners for Youth is using grant funding to deliver a Chalk About Love campaign during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Students and other community members are writing messages about love and healthy relationships on sidewalks in front of schools, law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, churches, and businesses. The messages include “Love is not abuse. Abuse is not love.” and “Healthy relationships are not toxic.”

School district networks concurrently are sending out dating violence awareness virtual fliers and resources to middle and high school students, incorporating themes from the Safe Dates curriculum, a prevention program designed to stop or prevent dating violence perpetration and victimization.

Trends and characteristics of dating violence reported by high school students are presented in OJJDP’s data snapshot. The information draws from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Additional resources are posted on the youth.gov website.

Thumbnail of Drug Courts fact sheet

Drug Courts Fact Sheet Offers Overview of Federal Support for These Specialized Courts

A newly updated Office of Justice Programs fact sheet on drug courts offers an overview of specialized court docket programs serving adult offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have substance use disorders. The programs rely on a multidisciplinary team of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections officers, social workers, and treatment service professionals to provide treatment, reduce recidivism, and help program participants build skills to lead drug- and crime-free lives.

The fact sheet describes the programs managed by OJJDP and the Bureau of Justice Assistance to support the development of new drug courts and build the capacity of existing ones. Both offices offer training and technical assistance to local criminal justice systems through partnerships with national associations and other providers.

The National Institute of Justice funds research on the practices of drug courts as well as their impacts and cost effectiveness. Costs for treatment are higher for participants in drug courts; however, with lower recidivism, drug courts save an average of $5,680 to $6,208 per offender, the Institute found.

The AMBER Advocate Highlights California’s Effort To Improve Accessibility of Alerts

Thumbnail of The AMBER Advocate newsletter

The latest issue of The AMBER Advocate spotlights the efforts of California Highway Patrol to increase the effectiveness of the state’s AMBER Alerts through a partnership with Twitter. The publication, produced by the OJJDP-supported AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance program, also recounts the rescue of a kidnapped infant in Georgia through swift response by state and local law enforcement following the issuance of an AMBER Alert.

In addition, the issue discusses the work of the Child Abduction Response Effort Team in York County, PA, to improve operational readiness through the use of comprehensive tabletop exercises; introduces Montana’s AMBER Alert coordinator, Brian Frost, who works to stay ahead of the curve in his state’s missing child recovery efforts; and includes updates on AMBER Alert in Indian Country, as well as state and international briefs.

Date Created: February 18, 2021