Issue Areas

Truancy and Other Status Offenses

The National Standards pay special attention to issues relating to truancy and chronic absenteeism because research has shown that missing school is a significant risk factor for later drug use, delinquency, adult criminality, suicide attempts and employment problems. The Standards also acknowledge and support the need for early identification and intervention for truant youth to avoid status offense and/or justice system involvement that may not only harm the young person, but his or her school and community. Read More

Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Research shows that boys are more likely than girls to be arrested and prosecuted in juvenile delinquency court, and that girls are more likely to be arrested for status offenses.Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals working with youth alleged to have committed status offenses and their families should make gender-responsive choices regarding interventions, treatment and services before, during, and following court involvement. Read More

LGBTQ Youth 

LGBTQ youth are over-represented in the juvenile justice system, are more likely to be seriously maltreated by other youth in the system, and may receive excessive punishments, including secure confinement due to court biases or misguided attempts to keep these youth “safe.” Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals should ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning  (LGBTQ) youth who are charged with status offenses receive fair treatment, equal access to services, and respect and sensitivity from all professionals and other youth in court, agency, service, school and placement. Read More

"I am delighted these standards have come to fruition. They represent an exhaustive and thoughtful effort by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and allied organizations, and will be of immense help to policy makers and practitioners striving to eliminate the use of detention in status offense cases. These standards are a high quality resource that is long overdue."

Shawn C. Marsh, Ph.D.
Chief Program Officer -- Juvenile Law
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Disproportionate Minority Contact

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) refers to the disproportionate representation of ethnic, racial and linguistic minority youth in the juvenile court system.  Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals should eliminate racial and ethnic disparities by being culturally aware and ensuring impartial and equal access to culturally-competent prevention and intervention services and treatment for youth charged with status offenses and their families. Read More

Use of the Valid Court Order

In 1980, the JJDPA was amended to add the valid court order (VCO) exception to the DSO core requirement. While the DSO protection remained intact, judges and others were given the option of placing adjudicated status offenders in locked detention if they violated a VCO, or a direct order from the court, such as “stop running away from home” or “attend school regularly.” Federal and local policymakers and advocates should amend the JJDPA to prohibit the use of the VCO exception to securely confine youth adjudicated for status offenses. Read More

Runaways and Ungovernability

Runaway and ungovernability cases (the latter may also be called “incorrigibility” or “beyond the lawful control of one’s parent”), can be particularly difficult for professionals to meaningfully help families and young people resolve.  They are often rooted in family conflict and the parent’s expressed interests may be at odds with the child’s. Read More

Juvenile Defenders

Juvenile defenders play an important role in helping ensure young people charged with status offenses do not slip deeper into the justice system or experience the negative outcomes associated with system involvement. Juvenile counsel should advocate for voluntary and community-based assistance to limit and/or avoid continued court involvement and secure confinement. They should advocate that child clients be treated fairly throughout the court process and that their due process rights and entitlements be protected. Read more

Positive Youth Development

Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals should understand positive youth development principles and how they can be used to achieve better outcomes for court-involved youth. Positive Youth Development (PYD) focuses on assets and skills, rather than risks and problems, and allows youth to develop decision-making abilities, work as part of a team and help others. Read More

Adolescent Brain Development

Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals working with youth alleged to have committed status offenses and their families should understand and apply current and emerging scientific knowledge about adolescent development, particularly as it relates to court-involved youth. Advances in brain science and technology are helping us better understand how the adolescent brain functions. Read More

Mental Health

Judicial, legal, law enforcement, justice, social service and school professionals working with youth alleged to have committed status offenses and their families should ensure that children with learning, mental health, sensory, speech/language or co-occurring disabilities are treated fairly and given access to needed evaluations, treatments and services. Read More