Core Value: Individual Differences

Juvenile justice decision makers must respond to young peoples’ differences from one another in terms of development, culture, gender, needs and strengths. Interventions and services must be tailored to the needs and assets of individual youth and focused on facilitating positive outcomes.

Effective juvenile justice systems recognize and respond to the individual differences among youth, including their developmental capacities and needs.

  • All services, interventions and interactions must take into account the developmental capacities and needs of individual youth and the fact that these capacities and needs may change as a youth grows and ages.
  • Youth should not unnecessarily enter, penetrate or be punished in the juvenile justice system because of developmental challenges.

Boys and girls present very different needs and assets. Understanding and meeting the needs of both boys and girls – who are being pulled into the justice system in increasing numbers in many communities — is critical in ensuring health communities and positive outcomes for all youth.

  • Stakeholders must analyze, articulate and meet the differing needs of boys and girls, with a special focus on trauma, family factors, physical and behavioral health needs, and educational needs.
  • Stakeholders must develop strategies to ensure that youth – and particularly girls — do not unnecessarily enter or penetrate the justice system due for status offenses, non-criminal conduct, familial conflict, or other behaviors more appropriately addressed in community-based settings.

An effective juvenile justice system understands and meets the needs of youth with special needs, including (but not limited to) homeless youth, older youth, LGBT youth, youth with special education needs and youth involved in sexual offenses.

  • Stakeholders must analyze, articulate and meet the needs of specialized populations in their communities in ways which are developmentally appropriate as well as more effective, more conducive to public safety and less costly than incarceration-based responses to youth with special needs and / or challenging behaviors.

An effective juvenile justice system recognizes, honors and responds to diversity among youth, families, staff, stakeholders and communities.

  • Stakeholders must continually work with the communities they serve to understand and value diversity of all kinds – including diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, language and economic status – and build culturally competent strategies to serve those communities.