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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights program site visits by OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan, virtual reality tools connecting incarcerated parents with their kids, OJJDP’s support of programs designed for girls, and one young person’s plans to reach the White House.
Message From the Administrator: Justice-Involved Youth Face Unexpected, Damaging Outcomes
OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan - News @ a Glance

News in Brief

White House Releases National Plan Outlining Strategies To End Gender-Based Violence 

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The White House has released its first-ever comprehensive, governmentwide approach to addressing and preventing forms of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, violence between intimate partners, and stalking. Calling gender-based violence a public safety and public health crisis, U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action prioritizes “areas that have been underemphasized” thus far in policy and research efforts, and specifically mentions prevention, racial justice, equity for people who identify as LGBTQI+, intergenerational healing, community wellness, and changing social norms. It underscores connections between these priorities and areas that have received more focus, such as incident-focused interventions and system responses.

The plan categorizes national goals and objectives under seven “pillars”—Prevention; Support, Healing, Safety, and Well-Being; Economic Security and Housing Stability; Online Safety; Legal and Justice Systems; Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Response; and Research and Data. OJJDP activities and programs receive multiple mentions, including the Juvenile Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and Family Treatment Courts programs, the Victims of Child Abuse Act Tribal Children’s Advocacy Centers Training and Technical Assistance Program, the National Resource Center for Justice-Involved LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit YouthStrategies To Support Children Exposed to Violence, and Reducing Risk for Girls in the Juvenile Justice System.

The national plan also refers to landmark pieces of federal legislation, such as the Violence Against Women ActFamily Violence Prevention and Services Act, and Victims of Crime Act. While these laws have strengthened protections and extended funding to advance promising practices and support prevention and intervention initiatives, “much work remains to be done,” the document asserts, calling for “renewed efforts to understand how people experience [gender-based violence], what survivors need, and how to better prevent violence, hold abusers accountable, and challenge views that normalize, condone, or rationalize [gender-based violence].”

Monthly Calls Connect OJJDP Administrator With Stakeholders

Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update

OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan is holding monthly telephone calls with juvenile justice professionals to share the latest Office activities and plans. Anyone who is interested may listen in, including OJJDP grantees, youth justice advocates, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and youth defenders.

The initiative, Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update, allows the Administrator to speak directly with stakeholders in communities nationwide. During the first call, in June, she discussed OJJDP’s commitment to combating racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. Administrator Ryan mentioned that the Office has engaged the National Center for Juvenile Justice to support efforts by states to monitor their progress in addressing these disparities. OJJDP is also partnering with the National Institute of Justice to support research that will identify best practices for reducing them.

The Administrator’s call in July focused on OJJDP’s work to reduce youth violence and victimization through school- and community-based interventions, and ensure community safety. As the new school year approaches, her next call, scheduled for August 24, will discuss the Office’s efforts to address bullying, school violence, and the risks of online victimization.

Information for dialing into Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update can be found on the OJJDP website; registration is not required. The calls last for 3–5 minutes. Recordings of past calls are available on the website.

New Toolkit Helps State Advisory Groups Engage With Youth 

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A new OJJDP-sponsored resource is designed to help state advisory groups (SAGs) engage with youth members and understand some of the most pressing justice issues young people face. SAGs can use Toolkit for Implementing Authentic Youth Engagement Strategies Within State Advisory Groups to evaluate their current efforts to engage youth and develop new strategies for enhancing those efforts.

The toolkit addresses a variety of topics, including:

  • Youth recruitment, retention, and mentorship.
  • Engagement with unique populations, including youth from rural areas, youth at risk for juvenile justice system involvement, and youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit.
  • Collaborations between youth and adults.

The toolkit also introduces inclusive and trauma-conscious strategies for engaging young people and presents topics considered to be core issues in youth justice. It was developed by the American Institutes for Research, an OJJDP grantee, and the Center for Coordinated Assistance to States, an OJJDP training and technical assistance provider. Youth MOVE National wrote the content.

Youth Residential Facilities Increased Phone or Video Communications During the Pandemic

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Survey questions designed to capture how juvenile residential facilities responded to the COVID-19 pandemic found that between March 1, 2020 and October 28, 2020, fewer than half (45 percent) reduced their population by transferring residents or offering them early release, according to a new OJJDP data snapshot, Juvenile Residential Facility Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19), 2020. The document highlights facility responses to pandemic-related questions asked in OJJDP’s 2020 Juvenile Residential Facility Census.

OJJDP and the National Institute of Justice introduced the pandemic-related questions in the 2020 iteration of the census, which collects data on a variety of juvenile residential facility characteristics. Among the 1,323 facilities that participated in 2020, response rates to COVID-19-related questions ranged from 78 to 96 percent. Through October 28, 2020, facility findings included:

  • 78 percent had access to COVID-19 testing.
  • 94 percent either restricted or eliminated outside visitors or allowed only noncontact visitation.
  • 94 percent increased phone and video communications between persons in the facility and their families or legal counsel.
  • 97 percent restricted the entry of individuals deemed nonessential.
  • 98 percent screened all individuals for COVID-19 prior to entry.

Law Enforcement Professionals Learn New Techniques To Fight Technology-Assisted Child Exploitation 

National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation logo

OJJDP’s 2023 National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation brought together more than 1,500 law enforcement investigators, digital forensic examiners, community outreach specialists, and prosecutors to expand their ability to tackle technology-facilitated crimes against children. Held June 13–15 in Atlanta, GA, the event’s 113 lecture-based sessions and 38 computer-based workshops covered a range of topics—including Internet safety, legal issues, sextortion, investigations, and CyberTips—and offered attendees an opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques from more than 160 speakers, improve collaboration, and strengthen critical relationships.

OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan welcomed attendees to the conference and highlighted the role of the Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) program as the “tip of the spear” in combating technology-assisted child exploitation. Since 1998, the national network of 61 coordinated task forces has reviewed 1.7 million reports of online child exploitation, leading to the arrests of more than 134,000 people.

The opening ceremony also included a panel discussion, “A Multi-Faceted View to Protecting Children Online,” focused on the importance of preventing the exploitation of children online. It featured Sgt. Sean Pierce, Silicon Valley ICAC Commander; Dr. Michael Rich, director of the Digital Wellness Lab and co-director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital; Sonya Ryan, who founded the Carly Ryan Foundation in Australia after her daughter was murdered by an online predator; and Pauline Stuart, who lost her son, Ryan Last, to a sextortion scam. Joe Laramie, Program Manager for the National Criminal Justice Training Center, moderated the session.

“Enforcement is certainly important, but so is prevention,” Administrator Ryan said. “The ICACs take prevention and community outreach very seriously and since the ICAC program started, the task forces have conducted nearly 194,000 presentations on Internet safety.”  

To mark Internet Safety Month, the ICAC program released a video in June promoting Internet safety and underscoring the dangers of sextortion.

OJJDP Dataset Provides National Benchmark for Comparing Racial and Ethnic Disparities  

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OJJDP relaunched the National Racial and Ethnic Disparities Databook as a component of the Statistical Briefing Book, which offers the youth justice field a national benchmark for comparing local data, helping jurisdictions determine where to focus efforts to promote racial equity.

The databook describes how racial and ethnic disparities are measured and identifies levels of disparities introduced at each decision point. For example, according to the databook:

  • Black youth were found delinquent nearly three times more compared to white youth in 2020; that discrepancy has remained relatively consistent since 2005, fluctuating between 2.6 and 3.1. 
  • Black youth were waived to adult court at nearly twice the rate as white youth in 2020. 
  • Diversion was higher for white youth than Black youth; American Indian and Alaska Native youth; Asian, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander youth; and Hispanic youth in 2020. 

Developed for OJJDP by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the Statistical Briefing Book offers online access to statistics on a variety of topics related to youth justice. 

Additions to OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide Address School Policing and Youth Problem Solving

OJJDP Model Programs Guide

OJJDP’s online Model Programs Guide is a resource for practitioners and communities about programs and practices that work—and do not work—in youth justice, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety. It provides systematic, independent reviews and evidence evaluations. Programs are rated effective, promising, or no effects (indicating that the program is unlikely to result in the intended outcomes and may result in negative effects).

The Model Programs Guide shares a database with CrimeSolutions, a National Institute of Justice resource. Programs recently added to the database include:

  • The School-Based Law Enforcement Framework (Texas), a data-driven strategic planning process intended to assist staff at middle and high schools who implement and monitor school policing programs. The framework of recommended practices provides guidance to integrate police into the learning environment and promote a safe school climate. It received a “no effects” rating. After 2 years, researchers found no statistically significant differences in student self-reported delinquency, victimization, exclusionary discipline, relationships with adults, or perceptions of police; nor school bonding, connectedness, and safety in schools that implemented the framework when compared with schools that did not. Students in schools that implemented the program did show statistically significant increases in their knowledge about school rules.
  • Social Problem-Solving Training, a cognitive-behavioral intervention designed to teach youth how to cope with interpersonal stress and conflict. Implemented in juvenile detention centers, the program sought to increase social problem-solving skills and reduce depressive symptoms, anger, and recidivism. Trained correctional officers led 10 small-group sessions guided by a manual; youth received corresponding workbooks with activities and assignments tailored to 8 problem-solving steps. The intervention also focused on teaching basic social skills, such as cooperation and communication, perspective-taking, cognitive self-control, and education about emotions. It received a “no effects” rating. Researchers found no statistically significant difference in depressive symptoms and other outcomes between male youth who participated in the program when compared to those who did not.

Youth Advisory Boards Strengthen Community Efforts To Address Substance Use

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Youth representation strengthens community efforts to address opioid and other substance use disorders—and a youth advisory board helps ensure youth voices are heard. A new OJJDP-funded guide, Advise and Advance: Elevating the Youth Voice Through Youth Advisory Boards, presents recommendations for building and sustaining youth advisory boards that benefit both systems-level efforts and the youth themselves.

The guide emphasizes the “energy, insight, and innovation” youth can bring to community work and focuses on youth advisory boards that help communities address opioid and other substance use disorders. It includes recommendations for creating a framework for the youth advisory board, recruitment strategies, engaging with youth, fostering trust, and holding community stakeholders, agencies, and organizations accountable to the youth advisory board.

Advise and Advance: Elevating the Youth Voice Through Youth Advisory Boards was developed by the Institute for Intergovernmental Research and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges through a grant from OJJDP.

Youth Who Were Held in Juvenile Detention Are More Likely To Die by Firearm

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Within 16 years of entering juvenile detention, more than one-fourth of Black males (27.1 percent) and Hispanic males (26.6 percent) were injured or killed by a firearm, according to a report published April 21, 2023, on JAMA Network Open, an online journal.

Nonfatal Firearm Injury and Firearm Mortality in High-risk Youths and Young Adults 25 Years After Detention highlights findings from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a 25-year study of 1,829 youth held in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. OJJDP helped to fund the study, which began in 1995 and examined firearm death and nonfatal firearm injury among young people who had been held in the facility. As of 2020, 4.8 percent of the study participants had been killed by a firearm. Additional key findings include:

  • Youth who had been detained were up to 23 times more likely to die by firearm when compared to youth in the general population.
  • Male youth were 13.6 times more likely than female youth to be injured or killed by a firearm.
  • Half of the female youth and nearly three-quarters of the male youth reported having “easy access” to firearms during adolescence. One-fourth of the male youth and 1 in 8 females said they belonged to gangs that carried firearms.

“As this study makes clear, vulnerability to gun violence is one of many adverse outcomes associated with juvenile detention,” says OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan. “These findings demonstrate the comprehensive support that formerly detained youth need and highlight the need for additional research.”

Date Created: June 21, 2023