Kinship Care May Reduce the Negatives of Foster Care

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_7099980Foster care is a sad reality for 437,465 children. As of 2016, nearly half a million kids are living in foster care away from their parents. These numbers are growing each year, but a different approach is being taken to help keep children out of foster care.

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Topics: Child Welfare

Youth Crime Rates Drop, But Progress is Still Needed

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_149652378Over the last twenty years, the United States has seen a steady drop in crime rates, including in juvenile crime. From the peak offense era of the 1990s to today, juvenile crime arrests have dropped across the board in leaps and bounds. Robbery and aggravated assault rates have both dropped by 70% since the 1990s, simple assaults are down by 49%, and murder rates have fallen a staggering 82%. The continuously falling crime rates are not necessarily attributable to any one particular action or policy, however, which leads to some debate among activists and lawmakers over which policies are making the biggest differences to help with this issue. There are a few contributing factors, however, that do show significant impact upon juvenile crime rate reduction.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Shortages Affect a Juvenile's Right to Counsel

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_112275718At a Georgia Walmart in the fall of 2013, 17-year-old W.M. did something not entirely unusual for someone his age: he shoplifted a $2.97 set of Halloween vampire fangs. Unlike most shoplifters, however, W.M. was caught and arrested. He appeared in juvenile court just a few weeks later, but at the time no public defenders were available to represent him. The judge gave W.M. a choice: he could waive his right to counsel and move forward to finish the case, or he could come back at a later date when a public defender might be available.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Trends in Juvenile Crime

Posted by MST Services

active-activity-board-1246961In the early 1990s, rising national crime rates provoked a change in the general public’s opinion of the people committing the crimes. Juvenile offenders in particular were represented as “vicious superpredators”, fueling the perception of juveniles as increasingly unpredictable, and of the juvenile penal system as being inadequate.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

What's the Average Juvenile Offender Like?

Posted by MST Services

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Over the course of the last twenty or so years, there has been much discussion focused on the causes of juvenile crime. Studies have been conducted, people have been surveyed, facilities have been inspected, and it has all lead to at least one solid conclusion: there is no one condition that leads a juvenile to committing a crime. Instead, researchers have found that a myriad risk factors increase a juvenile’s likelihood of offending. When a juvenile possesses several of these risk factors, they interact to multiply the chances of a juvenile committing a crime. The risk factors identified by years of research can all fall under the umbrella of a few generalized labels: individual characteristics, family characteristics, school influences, peer influences and neighborhood environments.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Do We Know The Full Extent of Juvenile Recidivism?

Posted by MST Services

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Imagine spending thousands of dollars to lock up a juvenile, only to have them end up in the same position in the future. Recidivism - the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend - is a worrying statistic for justice advocates. Unlike adult recidivism, however, there are no national figures for juvenile recidivism rates.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Difficulties Faced by Juvenile Offenders With Mental Illness

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_213897759It was an innocuous summer day in 2009 when DeVonte Jones first exhibited signs of schizophrenia. Jones and his mother were attending a baseball game at Wavering Park in Quincy, Illinois, a sprawling facility of playground equipment, pavilions, grills, and, of course, baseball diamonds. Jones was just a teenager at the time.

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Topics: Mental Health

The Holistic Approach to Mental Health

Posted by MST Services

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Every day in the U.S., one in five children are struggling with significant mental health issues. These diagnoses take many different forms— attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety are among the most common— but all of them, left untreated, have the potential to cripple the opportunities of childhood. By only age eight, 14% of youth will have developed a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder; just over half of these children will receive the treatment they need. But unaddressed mental health issues increase the likelihood that treatable diseases will become chronic, leading to cycles of mental health struggles throughout adulthood; in fact, untreated mental health problems cost Americans billions each year in lost earnings. Even before reaching adulthood, youth with a mental health condition are at higher risks of developing co-occurring disorders, like substance abuse issues, and dropping out of school— grievously, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among Americans aged 10-14.

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Topics: Mental Health

Stopping the Occurrence of Youth Suicide

Posted by MST Services

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The Sellers had lived in Pell City, Alabama for as long as they could remember. They had been married for over 17 years, established themselves in their local church, and had their first and only child, Sydney, in the city. Sydney was their pride and joy—in 2014, she was off to a successful first year of high school, earning her black belt in Taekwondo and taking honors classes. On December 7, she was “laughing, joking and watching TV”; everything seemed normal until her parents found her...

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Topics: Mental Health

How Can We Improve Mental Health Treatment In Schools?

Posted by MST Services

mental health in school

In the middle of her third grade year, eight-year-old Katie learned that she was transferring to an elementary school across town. As the new kid, she didn’t have anyone to play with at recess—Katie felt lonely and would make excuses to stay inside and finish work with her teachers. As the year went on, Katie lost hope. She began self-harming, and eventually developed an eating disorder. These mental health struggles caused her to miss school and fall behind on her work, only adding to her anxiety; eventually, Katie was hospitalized after expressing suicidal ideations. Mental health problems, left untreated, can become an unbearable hardship for young students. But if Katie had a comprehensive mental health treatment system in her school—one that intervened and provided support early on in her life—she may have avoided reaching desperation. For students to succeed academically and personally, it’s imperative that schools treat juvenile mental health just as seriously as physical health.

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Topics: Mental Health