Even during periods of relatively low violence, the incidence of violent behavior by and among young people is a prominent issue. Policymakers and communities always need effective methods of addressing violent acts by youth.
This chapter describes tools for researchers to address the tasks of problem definition, measurement, causal processes, and generalization. We begin with an extended example of developing practice-based evidence in community-based youth justice organizations in New York City.
The diverse mix of policies and practices in the juvenile justice system raises questions about its future.
Are today's violent crime rates different from the rates of 30 years ago? Do trends in serious and violent crime by juveniles (under age 18) differ from trends among older youth (i.e., young adults ages 18-24), and how much of the overall crime decline that began in the 1990s can be attributed to juveniles and older youth?
Juvenile justice is a highly varied process that is shaped by law and driven by local practice. The availability and suitability of programs often influences the outcome.
The need for better evidence about school-based crime prevention programs remains as urgent as it was a decade ago when evaluation research was far less available than it is today. Policymakers and practitioners deserve better information about school safety and how to ensure it.
This chapter addresses the growing use of specialized, problem-solving courts for delinquent juveniles. After introducing the specialized nature of the juvenile court itself, we describe three of the most popular forms of specialized courts for youths (teen courts, juvenile drug court, and juvenile/family mental health courts), and we examine several key policy and practice issues related to their operation.
In setting priorities for funding and support, intervention programs demonstrated to be effective and efficient are preferred over programs that are well intentioned but untested by rigorous evaluation. An evidence-based approach is undeniably better than an approach based on faith or anecdotes, but the findings of existing evaluations are not sufficient by themselves as a basis for effective policy-making. Translating research into practice requires more than a review of existing studies. It requires knowledge of the research process and its limitations.
The diverse mix of policies and practices introduced in recent years raises important questions about the posture of juvenile justice today. Most scholars agree that decades of "get-tough" reforms diminished the influence of the juvenile court. Many contend that these changes rendered the criminal (adult) and juvenile justice systems largely indistinguishable. Others question these claims and suggest that rehabilitation remains a critical goal for juvenile justice professionals.