Addressing Youth Crime

Through comprehensive and coordinated efforts at the federal, state, and local levels, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) contributes to the reduction of youth violence. OJJDP continues to strengthen the nation's juvenile justice system and supports prevention and early intervention programs that are making a difference for young people and their communities.

Juvenile violent crime is at its lowest level since 1987 and fell 30 percent from 1994 to 1998, according to the OJJDP bulletin, Juvenile Arrests 1998, which reports significant decreases for every violent crime, including a nearly 50 percent drop in the juvenile murder arrest rate from 1993 to 1998.

The bulletin presents an analysis of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports data, including arrest rates, which are the numbers of arrests for a specific crime per 100,000 youth ages 10 to 17. In addition to the sharp declines in violent crime committed by juveniles, there was also a 33 percent drop in the arrest rate for weapons law violations by youth between 1993 and 1998.

Juvenile Arrests 1998 also showed drops in other juvenile arrest rates:

In addition to the juvenile arrest data, the bulletin also presents an analysis of a new FBI study of 1998 data on family violence and the relationship between offenders and victims. Young people were victims in 58 percent of forcible rapes, with 15 percent of the victims under age 12. When rapes occurred between family members, juveniles were victims 73 percent of the time and 39 percent of the victims were under age 12.

ENSURING SCHOOL SAFETY The majority of schools are very safe, and even those with higher levels of crime than the typical school may be safer generally than the communities in which they are located. However, no level of school violence is acceptable and reducing violence in schools and assuring that students can learn in a safe and nonthreatening environment is a national priority. Many programs have been implemented in the nation's schools in recent years to promote safe and healthy learning environments.

While many schools also have incorporated school safety technologies within their overall school safety plans, little focused national attention has been given to the possible role of technology as an effective aid in creating safer and more secure schools. The NIJ-coordinated Safe Schools Technology Initiative encourages technology developers to work with schools, school administrators, and law enforcement agencies that serve schools to propose new or improved safety technologies that have promise for wide implementation. Under this initiative, NIJ sponsors technology research and development in the following areas: concealed weapons/ contraband detection, information technology, less-than-lethal, surveillance, training, and simulation.

Technology assistance is the final piece of the Safe Schools Technology Initiative. NIJ invites practitioner participation in policy and liability assessment forums that bring together law enforcement and school safety officials wherever appropriate. NIJ also utilizes the resources of its National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center system to provide technology information, assistance, demonstrations, and other support to community law enforcement agencies and school security personnel.

Research validates that a comprehensive community-wide and school-wide approach works best to promote healthy child development and to reduce school violence and drug use. The safety and well-being of our nation's children can be enhanced through the work of partnerships that bring together schools, families, and community organizations and offer a broad-based preventive approach to violence and drug use. The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative (SSHS) supports urban, rural, suburban, and tribal school district efforts to link prevention activities and community-based services and to provide community-wide approaches to violence prevention and healthy child development. This collaboration among the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services helps communities design and put into place comprehensive educational, mental health, social service, law enforcement, and juvenile justice services for youth.

In April 2000, more than $41 million in SSHS grants were awarded to 23 communities to make schools safer, to foster children's healthy development, and to prevent aggressive and violent behavior and drug and alcohol use among the nation's youth. These grants funded 23 new 3-year projects, adding to the 54 SSHS projects funded last year.

Research shows that preventing violence by building on children's strengths and promoting healthy development produces more positive results and is more cost-effective than strictly punitive measures. Grantees were urged to intervene with children early and to use programs that have been proven effective, such as life skills development, mentoring, conflict resolution, support for families, professional development for staff, truancy prevention,

after-school activities, teen courts, and alternative education.

Continuation grants for the initial 54 three-year projects funded in FY 1999 were

awarded in summer 2000 with nearly $100 million from the three federal agencies. Projects had to demonstrate substantial progress to receive continued funding.


Most OJJDP funding is awarded directly to state governments to support local juvenile justice and delinquency prevention projects. In FY 2000, OJJDP awarded more than $70 million to all 50 states, territories, and the District of Columbia under the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Program formula grant program to support a variety of juvenile justice activities, from prevention to incarceration. Two states are not participating in the Formula Grants Program (Wyoming and South Dakota) due to non-compliance with the core protections of the OJJDP Act. In these states, funds were awarded to non-profit agencies working to help the state attain compliance and regain eligibility. OJJDP also awarded more than $38 million under the Title V program, which provides funds to states to implement comprehensive plans for delinquency prevention, and more than $8 million under the State Challenge Grants program, which provides funds to improve juvenile justice systems, including juvenile courts, juvenile corrections, and juvenile probation and aftercare programs.

The Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants (JAIBG) program is helping to strengthen the juvenile justice system by encouraging states and local jurisdictions to implement accountability-based reforms. Under the program, OJJDP awards block grants to states, which in turn are passed through to local jurisdictions. JAIBG also supports program-related research, demonstration, evaluation, training, and technical assistance activities.

During FY 2000, 56 eligible jurisdictions, which includes the 50 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, received JAIBG awards totaling $224 million. The awards can be used to fund programs in 12 purpose areas, including construction of juvenile detention and corrections facilities; development of accountability-based sanctions programs for juvenile offenders; hiring of prosecutors, public defenders, and judges to address drug, gang, and youth violence more effectively; and the establishment and maintenance of interagency information-sharing programs to promote more informed decision-making in the control, supervision, and treatment of juvenile offenders.

To help states and local jurisdictions implement JAIBG programs, OJJDP provides training and technical assistance through Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG), of Bethesda, Maryland and 16 other training and technical assistance providers. During FY 2000, the training program featured six regional training sessions for state and local JAIBG grantees and included a 3-day program of 20 workshops and presentations customized to the needs of each region. OJJDP and BJS also established the JAIBG Technical Support Center to help states calculate the amount of JAIBG funds to be allocated to local jurisdictions. ABT Associates Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is conducting a 48-month national evaluation of the JAIBG program. In addition, OJJDP continued to publish a series of JAIBG Bulletins, which present up-to-date information about each of the JAIBG program purpose areas.

DSG coordinates a JAIBG Training and Technical Assistance Alliance that is composed of 19 providers (members include the American Correctional Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, American Probation and Parole Association, and the National Institute of Corrections) that give various types of services to states and localities implementing JAIBG programs. Since its inception in 1998, the Alliance has provided technical assistance (TA) in response to more than 2,510 requests. The TA has focused primarily on operating juvenile detention facilities, developing accountability-based programs, providing training for prosecutors, improving juvenile courts and probation, and implementing drug testing programs. In support of the JAIBG program, the Alliance has conducted 365 training events, workshops, presentations, and videoconferences reaching more than 16,000 practitioners, including juvenile justice specialists, judges, probation officers, law enforcement officers, court and school personnel, prosecutors, and detention staff. Local needs assessments have led to effective training approaches, which are crucial to increasing accountability in juvenile justice systems nationwide. By directly training state and local practitioners on best practices in juvenile accountability and graduated sanctions, OJJDP is supporting state and local governments in increasing their juvenile justice systems' capacity to address accountability.

While juvenile crime rates have dropped throughout the nation, they continue to rise in Indian country. In December 1999, 34 American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities were awarded nearly $8 million in Tribal Youth Program grants to prevent and control juvenile delinquency and substance abuse. The Tribal Youth Program, new in FY 1999, is administered by OJJDP. Funds are being used to support accountability-based sanctions, training for juvenile court judges, strengthening family bonds, substance abuse counseling, and other programs. The Tribal Youth Program was created through the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for 1999 (P.L. 105-277) and is part of a joint Justice Department and Interior Department Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvement Initiative to address the need for improved law enforcement and administration of criminal and juvenile justice in Indian country.


As part of another federal interagency collaboration to prevent youth crime, the Attorney General led a discussion on preventing and controlling juvenile crime by girls as part of the quarterly meeting of the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is chaired by the Attorney General and includes the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development and juvenile justice practitioners appointed by Congress and the President. Its primary function is to coordinate all federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, all federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and all federal programs related to missing and exploited children. It also examines how programs can be better coordinated at different levels of government to serve at-risk youth, makes recommendations to Congress, and reviews the programs and practices of federal agencies to assess their compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The focus of the quarterly meeting on March 29, 2001 centered around the latest research on gender trends in juvenile crime, effective prevention programs for troubled girls, and promising intervention programs for girls in the juvenile justice system.

In July 2000, the Deputy Attorney General met with youth from across the country to hear their ideas about the causes of juvenile violence and promising solutions. The youth were part of the National Campaign to Stop Violence "Do the Write Thing Program," through which seventh/eighth grade students and National Guard Unit high school students write essays and poems about delinquency, crime, and victimization. OJJDP has supported this program since 1997.

For millions of children, Boys & Girls Clubs are a safe haven from drugs and violence. Established in 1906, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America has grown from 53 clubs to a national network of more than 2,800 clubs, many in public housing, schools, churches, shopping malls, homeless shelters, orphanages, Native American reservations, and U.S. military bases around the world. Today, Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 3.3 million youth, employ more that 10,000 full-time and 40,000 part-time youth professionals, and organize the efforts of more than 200,000 volunteers.

Over the 8-year history of its partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, BJA funds have directly assisted over 600,000 youth and helped to start at least 850 new clubs. BJA has also funded nearly 2,200 special awards to help local clubs enhance their curricula and provide outreach in their communities. In 2000, BJA funds helped to establish new clubs and expand the outreach of existing clubs in severely distressed communities, in Indian country, and in small, rural communities. BJA funds also supported a pilot initiative to help bridge the technology divide between affluent and disadvantaged youth through youth technology centers.

Under another long-standing program, the award-winning public service ads of the BJA-funded National Citizen's Crime Prevention Campaign challenged Americans to invest in youth and do something about violence, crime, and illegal drug use. Campaign advertising appears on television, radio, billboards, and posters; in newspapers and magazines; and now through Website banners. In 1998, the Campaign reached more than 155 million households and raised an unprecedented $128 million in donated broadcast and print media support. These media campaigns generate approximately 25,000 calls per year to the Campaign's toll-free number and 22,000 per year to a toll-free number for teens. The Campaign is a cooperative effort of the National Crime Prevention Council, BJA, the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, and the Ad Council, Inc.


America is demanding solutions to increases in violent crime committed by its youth. The emerging consensus is that communities need to adopt comprehensive approaches to combat juvenile crime. In response, OJJDP developed the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders to provide a framework of strategic responses at the community, city, state, and national levels. OJJDP's Guide for Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders provides the necessary tools and program information to systematically and comprehensively address rising violent juvenile crime. Implementing the Comprehensive Strategy, however, requires a commitment to improving the juvenile justice system; providing appropriate prevention methods to children, families, and communities; and intervening in the lives of first-time offenders with structured programs and services. The Comprehensive Strategy and the Guide are important resources for communities interested in identifying and implementing solutions to growing juvenile violence through a more effective juvenile justice system. States using the Comprehensive Strategy include: Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Texas. The Children's Initiative in San Diego, California, is also participating as a pilot site.

Another OJJDP bulletin, The Comprehensive Strategy: Lessons Learned From the Pilot Sites, released in March 2000, found that leadership, engaging the media, and training a broad range of community participants are critical elements in establishing comprehensive, community-wide efforts to combat juvenile violence. Community support and the ability to maximize existing resources are other critical factors to ensure a successful youth crime-fighting strategy. The bulletin describes the efforts of three sites - Lee County, Florida; Duval County, Florida; and San Diego, California - that applied the principles of OJJDP's Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent and Chronic Juvenile Offenders.

The strategy, which OJJDP initially published in 1993, is based on six key principles:

OJJDP selected the three strategy pilot sites in 1993 and provided training and technical assistance to help them develop strategic plans to meet their needs.

The bulletin describes some unique features of the three sites' efforts:

The bulletin also outlines the challenges of implementing a comprehensive strategic approach, such as difficulties in collecting needed data. Other obstacles included "turf" issues that developed between agencies that were not used to working together and the time demands on key community and agency leaders.

In FY 2000, OJJDP provided training and technical assistance funding for five communities in two states that wanted to develop and implement the strategic planning framework as an approach to serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders. The model includes:

Program development is guided by risk and needs assessment instruments at each level of the juvenile justice process. OJJDP is also providing training, technical assistance, and funding to eight states - Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin - to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy in selected communities.


OJJDP also is helping communities to address problems related to crime by youth gangs. In FY 2000, OJJDP launched a new demonstration and replication effort to allow more communities across the country to use a promising approach to reducing and preventing youth gang crime and, especially, violence. The FY 2000 Gang-Free Schools and Communities Initiative included three new programs: 1) Comprehensive Gang Model: An Enhanced School/ Community Approach to Reducing Youth Gang Crime, 2) Gang-Free Communities, and 3) National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Gang Model: An Enhanced School/Community Approach to Reducing Youth Gang Crime. This initiative will provide support for up to 16 communities to use the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model to address local youth gang problems through intervention and suppression while building on and enhancing local youth gang prevention activities. The programs implemented under this initiative are strategic in nature and will be guided by comprehensive assessments of the local youth gang problems in each community. OJJDP's National Youth Gang Center (NYGC) will provide training and technical assistance to these communities.

In FY 2000, the Boys & Girls Clubs added 30 new gang prevention sites, five new gang intervention sites, and two "Targeted Reintegration" sites where clubs provide services to youth returning to the community from juvenile correctional facilities to prevent them from returning to gangs and violence.

In FY 2000, OJJDP also provided continuation support for its Rural Gang Initiative in four communities across the nation; its ongoing Comprehensive Gang Sites; the National Youth Gang Center in Tallahassee, Florida; and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Alexandria, Virginia. The National Youth Gang Center and the IACP each provide training and technical assistance to communities across the country experiencing youth gang problems.


A new Website - www.parentingresources.ncjrs.org - was launched in June 2000 to offer parents information on such topics as child care, education, health, and safety. The site, "Parenting Resources for the 21st Century," is part of a joint effort by several federal agencies to promote a national agenda for children and foster positive youth development. The site was unveiled at a quarterly meeting of the federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

This Website, which includes information on advocacy, education, employment, mental health, substance abuse, nutrition, learning disabilities, and volunteer activities, is divided into eight categories:

In another joint effort by several federal agencies to promote a national agenda for children and foster positive youth development, a new Website was posted in February 2000 to aid children with disabilities. The Website - www.childrenwithdisabilities.ncjrs.org - provides quick and easy access to a broad array of information, ranging from the latest research to programs and events designed specifically for young people with disabilities. Studies have found that disabilities are one of the many risks associated with juvenile crime and drug abuse. The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention developed both of these Websites.


As part of OJJDP's Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency, OJJDP released the bulletin, Teenage Fatherhood and Delinquent Behavior, in February 2000. Teenage fathers are more likely than other youths to commit delinquent acts, be involved in drug dealing, use alcohol, and drop out of school. This bulletin includes an analysis of studies of urban males in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Rochester, New York. The Pittsburgh study found that:

The study then compared these youth with 62 other similar youth who were not fathers:

The Rochester study also found a correlation among teenage fatherhood, delinquency, and drug use. Its findings:

Since 1986, OJJDP has issued bulletins on different risks that can lead to delinquency, including family disruption, child maltreatment, and gang involvement. More recent releases continue to explore these themes.

OJJDP released the bulletin Youth Gang Drug Trafficking in December 1999. Serious drug trafficking by youth gangs is concentrated in a small number of areas. Forty-seven percent of law enforcement agencies responding to the survey reported that youth gangs controlled less than a quarter of the drug distribution in their jurisdictions, while an additional 23 percent reported that youth gangs controlled less than half of the drug distribution. The bulletin was based on data from the 1996 National Youth Gang Survey, which collected information from 2,630 law enforcement agencies nationwide and was the first report on the extent and nature of youth gang drug trafficking based on nationwide law enforcement reports. Highlights from the study include:

OJJDP also looked at new approaches to providing youth services. An OJJDP bulletin released in April 2000 described how the Community Assessment Center (CAC) concept can improve the cost efficiency, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of services to youth in the juvenile justice system. CAC's provide a round-the-clock, centralized point of intake and assessment for juveniles who have come into or are likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The multi-disciplinary, single-stop centers are usually staffed by a team of law enforcement, social service, and mental health professionals who assess the young person's needs and make immediate, appropriate referrals. The CAC model has four key elements that, when properly implemented, have a positive impact on the lives of youth and can divert them from delinquent behavior:

The bulletin, The Community Assessment Center Concept, describes a number of difficulties that communities must be careful to avoid when they implement the CAC concept: a lack of due process for youth; "net widening," which refers to expanding the number and types of youth brought under the supervision of the juvenile justice system; the unavailability of youth services needed for appropriate referrals; the possibility of youth being stigmatized by the process (affecting the way others see them and how they see themselves); and increasing over-representation of minorities in the system.

Another OJJDP effort encourages youth to get involved in crime prevention. Three OJJDP bulletins released in March 2000 are written for youth, ages 12 to 19, and outline ways young people can enhance the use of communication tools to help prevent crime and make their communities safer. These bulletins are part of OJJDP's Youth in Action (YIA) series. The series is a product of OJJDP and its National Youth Network, a group of young people and national youth organizations working to prevent crime and victimization and to make a difference in their communities. Want to Resolve a Dispute? Try Mediation, Making the Most of Your Presentations, and Working With the Media provide guidance for youth who want to improve their ability to educate the community about crime prevention through public speaking, media relations, and conflict resolution. These reports were written in cooperation with BJA and the National Crime Prevention Council.

-Want to Resolve a Dispute? Try Mediation describes how trained mediators can help two or more people resolve a conflict or disagreement, no matter how simple or complex. The bulletin gives examples of two successful programs - the New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution Peer Mediation in Schools Program and the Mediation Center of Asheville, North Carolina. It also outlines a six-step plan on how to start a peer mediation program.

-Making the Most of Your Presentations discusses planning presentations, ways to make presentations effective, the challenges and rewards of making presentations, and ways in which they can be self-evaluated. Presentations include speeches, panel discussions, debates, skits, performances, book readings, and dances.

-Working with the Media describes media organizations and the importance of media in publicizing messages that prevent or reduce crime. Five critical planning steps are highlighted to help youth get started in working with the media and developing productive partnerships to ensure their crime prevention messages are aired.

In March 2000, OJJDP released, From the Courthouse to the Schoolhouse: Making Successful Transitions. The bulletin shows that when youth who were formerly in the juvenile justice system participate in programs to help them return to the community, they are more likely to go back to school, graduate from high school, and find jobs. Improving communication and developing partnerships among public and private youth-serving agencies is key to moving these youth back into the education mainstream. The bulletin also examines effective education programs in youth correctional facilities.

The report features the Jackson-Hinds County (Missouri) Youth Detention School educational program, which teaches basic academic and survival skills, vocational training, support services, and parent training. The program is an extension of the Jackson Public School District, which works with community partners, including two local universities, a private agency, and a foundation. The bulletin covers training and technical assistance programs that stress the importance of interagency information sharing. One of these, Gateway, is a successful transition program in New Jersey. Also described are transitional educational placements, and steps that schools can take to help students reenter the school environment immediately after being released from juvenile correctional facilities.

This bulletin is one in a series related to the Youth Out of the Education Mainstream (YOEM) initiative, a joint effort between OJJDP and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program of the U.S. Department of Education. YOEM focuses on the needs of five often interrelated categories of at-risk youth: students fearful of attending school because of violence; truants; dropouts; suspended/expelled youth; and youth returning to school from correctional settings in the juvenile justice system.

Families and Schools Together: Building Relationships, an OJJDP bulletin released in November 1999, profiles Families and Schools Together (FAST), a program that works with teachers to identify elementary school children with behavioral or developmental problems and organizes these families and their teachers into groups that participate in weekly meetings. Parents learn to monitor their children's behavior, interact through play, and communicate. They also become more involved with social networks of other parents, schools, and communities. After families graduate, they join an ongoing school-based group of families who meet monthly for two years. In 1998, the White House Conference on School Safety recognized FAST as an effective approach to delinquency prevention. The program is having a positive impact on conduct disorders, anxiety/withdrawal, and attention span problems. In all areas, after only 8 to 10 weeks, participants showed significant progress. The bulletin discusses the program's curriculum, its strategies, and the research and evaluation efforts of the program. It includes a summary of expenses for building a new program and a table of program activities. One family's experience is highlighted, outlining the family's progress through each phase of the program and describing the long-term positive effects on the family. OJJDP also released the following two complementary bulletins addressing the issue of juvenile substance abuse:

Two OJJDP bulletins released in April 2000, examine juvenile crime prevention and intervention programs. Prevention of Serious and Violent Juvenile Offending describes prevention efforts targeting at-risk youth at infancy, elementary school, adolescence, and high school. It offers examples of programs that target parents and families. Effective Intervention for Serious Juvenile Offenders studies more than 200 intervention programs, which showed an overall 12 percent decrease in the reoffending rate for the participating youth. Both bulletins include information from OJJDP's Study Group on Serious and Violent Juvenile Offenders, which analyzed the risks associated with juvenile crime, the pathways youth follow to delinquency, and effective methods of reducing youth violence.

A July 2000 OJJDP bulletin, Special Education and the Juvenile Justice System, describes the special education needs of young people in the juvenile justice system. Studies of incarcerated youth reveal that as many as 70 percent have disabling conditions. Other studies have shown that as many as 20 percent of young people with emotional disabilities are arrested at least once before they leave school. The bulletin summarizes critical provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other laws relating to special education. It also shows how the special education process and information about disabilities can be useful in juvenile delinquency proceedings and examines the role of special education in juvenile and adult institutions. Additional FY 2000 OJJDP bulletins covered topics such as school violence, youth arts programs, conflict resolution, teen courts, and juvenile transfers to criminal court.

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