Remaining Problems

Several challenges continue to face schools and communities as they attempt to deal with problems of crime and violence among youth:

  • In addition to helping to reintegrate young people who are already in trouble and outside the education mainstream, educators and other concerned members of the community need to redouble their efforts to prevent the youngest children from taking a similar path. In the wake of recent school shootings, the public has exerted increasing pressure on school officials to identify at-risk youngsters as early as possible so that appropriate intervention services can be provided. In attempting to respond to public demands, school officials are hindered by the fact that human behavior is not often predictable, particularly when a troubled individual may display few outward signs.

  • Overcrowding in juvenile detention and correctional facilities often means that, before another youth can be detained or confined, officials must decide who will be released in order to make room for the new resident. Many times the youth being released are not fully prepared for reintegration into mainstream schools and society. These youth and their families may need additional or enhanced services to help support them through the transition.

  • Educators sometimes have unfounded fears and prejudices regarding juvenile offenders. Preparing educators to work with these youth is essential. The preservice curriculum in university-level teacher preparation programs should equip young teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to work with the full spectrum of students, including those who have had contact with the juvenile justice system. At the school level, open lines of communication and well-trained, informed teachers can make the crucial difference in reintegrating juvenile offenders into mainstream education.

  • Lack of coordination and collaboration among schools, juvenile justice systems, and community social institutions has been a serious impediment to the development and delivery of effective aftercare programming for juvenile offenders.23 Petty turf battles, power struggles, and refusal to share information must give way to a spirit of cooperation and teamwork to better serve the needs of troubled youth and their families. This call for unity has been made before but has often gone unheeded because of funding limitations, community resistance, competition for resources, or lack of leadership.
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From the Courthouse to the Schoolhouse: Making Successful Transitions Juvenile Justice Bulletin February 2000