Core Value: Youth Potential

Youth have strengths and are capable of positive growth. An effective juvenile justice system uses evidence-based approaches to build on the capacities of youth to learn, change, grow and thrive and become contributing members of our communities.

Evidence-based practices encompass much more than utilizing specific service curricula. Research consistently demonstrates that the most effective policy and practices a) identify risks, needs and assets of individual youth, b) target appropriate levels and kinds of services to the right youth, and c) utilize demonstrated approaches to building positive thinking and skills with youth

  • Using evidence-based practices to screen and assess to identify youth risks, needs and protective factors and to target services appropriately can significantly improve outcomes for youth.
  • Targeting the right kind and intensity of interventions is critical in success. Providing intensive services and supervision to low-risk youth can actually disrupt youth’s protective factors and produce negative outcomes; while providing inadequate services and support to high-risk youth is similarly ineffective.
  • Programs and services which help youth develop pro-social values and behaviors have consistently been demonstrated to produce long-term positive outcomes more effectively and at lower cost than punitive, incarceration-based approaches.

Restorative justice approaches can help youth develop and maintain positive connections to their communities, to understand the consequences of their actions and to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

  • State and local stakeholders should support restorative justice approaches which have demonstrated capacity to divert youth from system involvement or penetration, repair the harm caused by juvenile delinquency, build the capacity of youth and foster positive relationships between youth and communities.

Every youth deserves a chance to learn and grow in a safe, supportive community.

  • Positive youth development strategies can produce meaningful opportunities for youth to realize their potential as healthy, contributing members of our communities.
  • Supporting policy, practice and programs which help youth attain full citizenship – including educational success, access to employment, civic engagement and positive social networks – can help families.