OJJDP is increasing communication with the juvenile justice field on challenges and solutions through "listening sessions" held in its Washington, DC, office. These interactive sessions, which started in May, are designed to create an ongoing dialog with policymakers and practitioners on the current trends and issues facing the juvenile justice field.
Information from these sessions will be used to enhance OJJDP's collective knowledge base, guide decisionmaking and planning, and promote open and transparent governing. Sessions are planned for the Nation's experts to share their perspectives on the issues they face and discuss potential solutions for them.
Attendees for the invitation-only sessions include researchers, practitioners, trainers, law enforcement professionals, court personnel, policymakers, representatives from national juvenile justice and youth service organizations, and program managers and experts at OJJDP who guide policy decisions.
Participants are invited from around the country to represent a variety of viewpoints. Listening sessions also will be held at various conferences throughout the Nation. It is hoped that these sessions will yield not only valuable information for setting the goals and priorities of OJJDP, but also will establish ongoing communications and collaboration with the field.
To date, OJJDP has held four sessions:
Child Protection (August 2009). Participants were asked to discuss a series of topics, including children's exposure to violence; trends in child victimization, including trends related to lost, injured, and missing children; the age, geographic distribution, language, cultural group, and physical or mental disadvantages of victimized children; characteristics of the perpetrators (adults, other youth, family members, strangers); and the setting (school, home, detention facilities) in which victimization occurs. Participants offered recommendations about potential areas of focus, including how to reduce risk-taking behaviors that put youth at risk for victimization or exploitation, and how to build collaborative responses to adolescents who self-produce child pornography.
Research and Evaluation (July 2009). Participants were asked to offer their suggestions about how OJJDP can move forward with a renewed focus on science and data-driven programming. Researchers, policymakers, and practitioners engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on emerging issues, research priorities, and ways in which OJJDP can best support researchers and the research field.
Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact (June 2009). This session included an overview of current trends in the effort to address the disproportionate representation of minorities at all decision points within the juvenile justice continuum and implementation of best practices for delinquency prevention and system improvement. Participants were asked to discuss, among other topics, how States and territories are measuring disproportionality via the Relative Rate Index, the use of objective risk assessment instruments at the various contact points, and specific examples of States and communities that have reduced or mitigated disproportionality based on process, outcome, and/or impact evaluations.