OJJDP Addresses Mental Health Needs of Youth at Risk for Delinquency and Victimization
In a proclamation declaring May 2022 National Mental Health Awareness Month, President Joseph R. Biden highlighted the increased risk young people face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Mental health challenges among our youth have also been particularly acute due to disruptions in routines, increased social isolation, and learning loss," he said.
About two-thirds of justice-involved youth have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder compared with an estimated 9 to 22 percent of the general youth population, according to an OJJDP Model Programs Guide literature review. Many of OJJDP's programs aimed at preventing and responding to youth delinquency and victimization provide mental health treatment as one component of a range of support services and other interventions. These programs include:
- Children’s Advocacy Centers.
- Children Exposed to Violence.
- Drug Courts, including Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts, Family Treatment Courts, and Juvenile Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts.
- Girls in the Juvenile Justice System.
- Opioid Affected Youth Initiative.
- Second Chance Act Youth Reentry.
- Youth With Sexual Behavior Problems.
OJJDP’s Juvenile Justice and Mental Health Collaboration program supports collaborations between juvenile justice and mental health agencies to treat youth with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.
“OJJDP recognizes the close link between youth exposure to violence or trauma and subsequent involvement in the juvenile justice system,” OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan said. “That link further underscores the vital importance of addressing the mental health issues youth face, and ensuring they receive the care they need.”
National Mentoring Resource Center Launches Grantee Geomap
OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center website now features a Mentoring Grantee Geomap, a dynamic online tool for identifying and accessing information about OJJDP-funded mentoring programs for youth. The geomap shows OJJDP investments in mentoring throughout the United States and its territories.
Users can search and filter programs by entering identifying information, such as grantee name or location, grant category, program model, and award year. Clicking on the geomap leads to “quick reference” profiles with program details, such as the population served, services offered, and the funding amount awarded by OJJDP; profiles can be downloaded in PDF form. The geomap also serves as a networking tool for mentoring organizations to build collaborations and learn about services offered by other programs, and to help potential mentors find programs to support.
OJJDP Updates Statistical Briefing Book With Data on Teen Dating Violence
OJJDP has updated its Statistical Briefing Book, adding a new data snapshot on dating violence experienced by high school students in 2019. The snapshot reflects findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which monitors health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults. According to the snapshot:
- While the overall prevalence of sexual dating violence victimization decreased between 2013 (10.4 percent of respondents) and 2019 (8.2 percent), it increased between 2017 (6.9 percent) and 2019. In 2019, the percentage of students reporting incidents of sexual dating violence in the previous 12 months were similar when examined by their grade in school.
- The overall prevalence of physical dating violence victimization also decreased between 2013 (10.3 percent of respondents) and 2019 (8.2 percent). In 2019, students in grade 9 (5.6 percent) were the least likely to report having experienced physical dating violence in the previous 12 months when compared to those in grade 10 (8.1 percent), grade 11 (8.7 percent) and grade 12 (9.8 percent).
- In 2019, female students were more likely to report physical or sexual dating violence victimization than their male peers, and students identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or “not sure” were more likely to make such reports when compared to students identifying as heterosexual.
Quality of Mentor-Mentee Bond Impacts Youth Outcomes, Studies Find
Two publications released by OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center examine research on the impact mentoring has on youth career exploration and educational performance. Both address the importance of the mentor-mentee relationship to positive youth outcomes.
Mentoring for Enhancing Career Interests and Exploration offers an overview of research into the impact of mentoring on youth career interests and exploration, focusing on mentees younger than age 18. The review presents 10 conclusions, noting a lack of rigorous evaluation into the effects of mentoring programs on youth career interests and exploration, but observing “some success” in promoting career-related outcomes. Mentoring for Enhancing School Attendance, Academic Performance, and Educational Attainment examines the impact of mentoring on school attendance, academic performance, and educational attainment. The document outlines factors that influence a mentor’s impact and underscores the importance of high-quality mentoring relationships characterized by mutuality and trust.
CrimeSolutions Adds Two Practices Rated “Effective”
The National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions resource has added two practices deemed “effective”:
- Researchers concluded that middle school students ages 12–14 who participated in interactive, school-based programs to prevent marijuana use were less likely to use the drug when compared with students who did not participate in such programs. Rather than lecture-based interventions, youth participated in skill-building and interactive activities delivered as sessions, attending between 3 and 40 sessions during school, after school, or in a combination of both times. Session leaders included peers, teachers, clinicians, police officers, community volunteers, or trained adults with peer leaders.
- A meta-analysis of eight studies found trauma-focused interventions were effective at reducing trauma symptoms and externalizing behaviors (such as aggression and criminal behavior) in youth and young adults who were exposed to traumatic events (such as physical and sexual violence). The studies compared the outcomes of youth and young adults who participated in trauma-focused interventions to the outcomes of youth and young adults who did not. In general, there are two forms of trauma-focused interventions to reduce posttraumatic stress disorder in children, youth, and young adults: trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
Report Summarizes Findings on Causes and Consequences of School Violence
Delinquent/antisocial behavior is the strongest predictor of youth carrying out violent behavior at school, according to The Causes and Consequences of School Violence: A Review, a report commissioned by the National Institute of Justice. The report presents a comprehensive survey of research on school violence, summarizing data on its causes and consequences, and offering recommendations for future research. The authors reviewed meta-analyses published between January 2000 and May 2020, and studies funded through the Institute’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative.
Other strong predictors of youth engaging in violent behavior at school include a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, maltreatment, rejection by peers, and moral disengagement, the report notes. Youth who act violently at school also tend to act violently and engage in other delinquent acts outside of school. Similarly, youth who suffer violent victimization at school tend to be victimized outside of school. Researchers also observed that youth who perpetrate school violence often are victims of violence. Researchers highlighted an overlap in the consequences of engaging in violent behavior at school and of suffering violence at school, including psychological, behavioral, and social problems.