U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

OJJDP News @ a Glance May 2024

From the Administrator's Desk: Can't Find a Seat? Build Your Own Table

Photo of OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan meeting with grantees during the National Community Violence Intervention Conference
Administrator Ryan (second from left) met with grantees during the National Community Violence Intervention Conference.

Young people with lived experience in the juvenile justice system advocated for authentic youth inclusion and engagement, echoing OJJDP’s guiding principles during “Encouraging Youth as Leaders of Change in Violence Reduction,” a panel discussion facilitated by Administrator Liz Ryan on April 3 in Chicago, IL. Held during the National Community Violence Intervention Conference, an annual meeting for Office of Justice Programs grantees, the panel featured three emerging youth leaders: two members of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee, Audi Wodrazka Espinoza and Emilio Carranza-Davis, and Tina Harris, a member of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee of New Mexico. They advised perseverance—saying young people denied a seat “at the table” should build their own table.

Recommendations from the young leaders to grantees included:

  • Respond to youth violence by ensuring communities offer activities young people want to attend. Youth with opportunities to enrich and enjoy themselves are less likely to engage in activities that lead to violence.
  • Listen to what youth say, be willing to work with them, and tailor services to their express needs.
  • Offer mentorship. Young people want personal connections—to be seen and respected as individuals.
  • Compensate youth who act as advisors and consultants. Young people should be recognized for their time and expertise.

“I’m excited by the energy these panelists generated. The room was buzzing,” Administrator Ryan said after the panel discussion. “Young people have so much wisdom to share. We just have to invite them in, ask questions, and listen to what they say.” 

Date Created: May 29, 2024