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Alcohol Abuse Among Teens

Posted by MST Services

Teen Alcohol AbuseAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is still the most commonly used and abused drug of choice for youth under the age of 21. In fact, the CDC estimates that 11 percent of alcohol consumed in the United States each year is consumed by youths between 12 and 20 years of age, and 90 percent of that occurs in the form of binge drinking. Despite being viewed as not carrying a great risk by roughly 50 percent of teenagers, the ramifications of underage drinking can lead to lifelong mental and physical issues. From sexual assaults to car accidents, stories of the negative impact drinking can have on youth are frequent in the news and pose a serious public health concern across the country.

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Topics: Substance Abuse, Troubled Youth

Young, Pregnant, and Incarcerated

Posted by MST Services

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Involvement in the juvenile justice system is often a confusing and upsetting experience for teenagers across the United States—but adding the additional concern of being pregnant while incarcerated makes for an even more complicated situation. National figures on the number of incarcerated teenagers are scarce, but a recent survey on the matter in Los Angeles County gives us a glimpse into the matter. According to a report released last June, in 2018 a total of 1,039 girls were booked into L.A. County juvenile detention facilities; fifty had a positive pregnancy test upon arrest, and one gave birth while incarcerated. Fifty doesn’t sound like many, but that number accounts for just shy of five percent of the total juvenile female arrests in the county for the year. And for these youth, having to deal with pregnancy within the system leads to several different negative consequences.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Youth Suicide in Detention Centers

Posted by MST Services

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On January 1st of 2019, a teenage girl at a detention center in Oklahoma went in to the facility’s bathroom; 25 minutes later, she was found hanging from a vent in the ceiling with a makeshift noose around her neck. The girl was on suicide watch, requiring staffers to check on her every five minutes, and yet the facility’s records show that 25 minutes passed before another resident entered the bathroom and found her. None of the staffers were surprised by her action; the girl, along with another resident, had recently come forward to report sexual abuse by a male staffer. That very morning, a fellow resident told the staffers that the girl had been alluding to committing suicide, and yet the staff failed to check on the girl at the required five-minute intervals. The most distressing part about this story is the fact that it isn’t uncommon. Every day across the U.S., scores of juveniles in detention are under suicide watch, and even so, many of them still manage to take their own lives.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Opioid Epidemic Impact on Child Welfare

Posted by MST Services

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Lafayette, Indiana resident Jodie Hicks had watched her son Justin abuse heroin for years. The house he shared with his girlfriend, who was also an addict, was filthy and frequently chaotic with fellow users. What caused Hicks the most concern was the fact that the house was also home to her granddaughter, Tessa. Tessa’s days were largely spent alone, at times locked in her bedroom, and at four years old her speech was so poor it was largely indecipherable. She had been responsible for feeding herself since toddlerhood, taking food out of the fridge that was frequently sugar-laden and lacking in nutrients, leaving her underweight.

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Topics: Child Welfare

When Incarcerated Youth Lose Medicaid

Posted by MST Services

medicaid
Imagine that you get a call from your child’s school one afternoon. The principal tells you that your son broke his arm after tripping down some stairs, and he’s been transported to the local hospital. When you get to the emergency room, doctors have already done an x-ray and have begun fitting him for a cast. You’re relieved he’s feeling okay, but then you look at the hospital bill: $2,500. Without health insurance, a broken arm can become the cost of several months’ rent, and put a family into financial jeopardy. Now imagine that your son is struggling with a mental or behavioral health issue. This isn’t uncommon—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 20% of teenagers experience a mental health condition, and half of all lifelong cases of mental illness begin by age 14. But visiting a therapist and purchasing medication can be even more expensive than a broken arm. Several youth have mental and behavioral health issues, but left untreated, these problems could become a catalyst to involvement in the juvenile justice system.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Juvenile Justice and Tribal Youth

Posted by MST Services

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Within the United States, American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) represent roughly 1.7% of the total population, of which about 928,000 are under the age of eighteen. Despite representing such a small portion of the total US population, a recent study by the Government Accountability Office found that tribal youth comprised 18% of all federal juvenile arrests between 2010 and 2016. Once these young people have offended, they face a complex and oftentimes unfairly skewed justice system, complicated by jurisdiction issues and insensitivity to the influence of their heritage.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

MST’s Positive Impact in Chile

Posted by MST Services

 

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In the early 2000s, the Chilean government was desperately struggling to cope with rising juvenile crime rates. The issue reached such a point that yearly polls by the country’s Center for Public Studies found it to be one of the top three priorities for citizens—for twelve years in a row. In response, the government began researching and implementing policies to address both the issue and the public concern. It took nearly ten years for the country to finally reach the point of considering alternative treatments for their juvenile offenders, but it finally found a solution: Multisystemic Therapy (MST). 

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Topics: MST International

Homeless Youth Often Face Arrest

Posted by MST Services

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Twenty-year-old Amber Graves was just five when her parents abandoned her and her one-year-old brother in the Bronx, New York. Graves and her brother spent years bouncing between homelessness and foster homes, with Graves also at times incarcerated for crimes she committed to help them get by. “My main priority wasn’t a dollhouse,” says Graves of the experience. “It wasn’t the race cars. No type of kid toys. It was making sure that me and my brother was safe and getting us out of this predicament.”

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Topics: Troubled Youth

LGBTQ Youth and Juvenile Detention

Posted by MST Services

AdobeStock_207280112According to the US Department of Justice, 856,130 juveniles were arrested across the country during 2016, 45,567 of which were held in 1,772 juvenile facilities. Of those 45,567 juveniles, an average of fifteen to eighteen percent identified as LGBTQ--that’s twice the rate at which LGBTQ are represented within the general US population. In a recent survey conducted in selected juvenile detention facilities across the US, forty percent of the total female population identified as LGBTQ, and out of all the LGBTQ respondents, eighty-five percent were youths of color. In recent years, juvenile justice advocates have begun to ask a new question: why is the LGBTQ population so overrepresented within the juvenile justice system? 

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform

Juvenile Justice: A Year in Review

Posted by MST Services

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With a government shutdown and an incoming change in House leadership, the first few days of January have many wondering what will top this new Congress’ agenda in 2019. For those in the child welfare and criminal justice space, 2018 saw many welcome state-level reforms— this year, North Carolina and New York will no longer prosecute youth under age 18 in adult courts, and California won’t try juveniles under age 12. But 2018 was also a promising one on the national stage— following recent bipartisan support for the First Step Act and increases in federal juvenile justice funding, there are signs that our incoming government will continue to champion criminal justice reform this year. But before we explore where 2019 may take us, let’s look back on the major changes in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems that 2018 brought.

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Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform