July | August 2013

News in Brief

American Bar Association Endorses Task Force Recommendations To Address Children's Exposure to Violence, Urges Immediate Implementation

Cover of Report of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to ViolenceOn August 12, 2013, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution supporting the implementation of the 56 policy recommendations set forth in the “Report of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.” The report—commissioned as part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Defending Childhood Initiative—is a blueprint for reducing the impact of trauma on children who witness or experience violence. Describing the recommendations as timely and significant, the ABA stated that the “comprehensive implementation of these recommendations will ensure that federal, state, and local governments are held responsible for the care and well-being of violence-exposed young people, provide a fair legal process and meaningful access to justice, and offer services to improve the lives, rehabilitation, and future of court-involved youth.”

Administrator Listenbee Participates in Forum on Juvenile Justice System Reform

On July 30, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee participated in “States’ Innovations in Juvenile Justice: Investing in Better Outcomes for Youth,” a forum hosted by Sen. Chris Murphy (CT). Mr. Listenbee’s co-panelists were Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning in Connecticut; Sen. John Whitmire, who represents the 15th Senatorial District of north Houston and Harris County in the Texas legislature; and Summit County (Ohio) Juvenile Court Judge Linda Teodosio. In his remarks, Administrator Listenbee talked about the recently released National Research Council report Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach and how it is informing OJJDP’s efforts to incorporate a developmental approach into policy and program development. He also talked about OJJDP’s work to implement the findings of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence and the Departments of Justice and Education’s work to reform harsh school disciplinary policies and practices through the Supportive School Discipline Initiative. During a question and answer session, the panelists discussed the Affordable Care Act and how its implementation may affect youth in confinement. They also discussed how to incorporate better mental health care in schools and juvenile justice facilities; information sharing among the courts, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and other child-serving systems; and how to address the different types of trauma children experience when they are in secure confinement. A Webcast of the forum is accessible online.

Justice Department Officials Speak at NADCP's Annual Training Conference

National Association of Drug Court Professionals logoMore than 4,000 treatment court professionals gathered in National Harbor, MD, on July 14–17, 2013, for the world's largest conference on substance abuse, mental health, and the justice system. Organized by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the 19th Annual Training Conference featured more than 175 educational sessions on a range of topics, including drug courts, veterans’ treatment courts, tribal healing-to-wellness courts, mental health courts, and juvenile and family drug courts.

On July 15, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole delivered a keynote address outlining the Justice Department's work in the area of drug courts. He cited research by the National Institute of Justice that shows that local drug courts reduce drug use and criminal offending. OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee served as a panelist in the session, “Disparities in the Justice System: How Drug Courts Can Ensure Fairness to Disadvantaged Groups.” Other panel participants included Denise O’Donnell, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance; and Dr. H. Westley Clark, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Doug Marlowe, Chief of Science, Law & Policy, NADCP.

Robert L. Listenbee Participates in National Urban League Panel Discussion on Trauma-Informed Services for Minority Men and Boys

NULC-logoOn July 25, 2013, OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee participated in a panel discussion, “Saving Our Sons: Resilience and Wellness for Our Minds and Bodies,” at the annual National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The discussion focused on trauma-informed approaches to addressing the health needs of African-American men and boys, who are exposed to exceptionally high rates of violence, particularly in urban areas. Regular exposure to violence and trauma has long-term effects on both physical and mental health. The panel discussed innovative and culturally relevant strategies—including the use of peer counseling in community-based settings—to help men and boys heal and to avoid perpetuating the cycle of violence in their neighborhoods.

OJJDP Holds Listening Session on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

An OJJDP listening session held on June 13–14, 2013, brought together top researchers, practitioners, tribal representatives, and staff of partnering federal agencies and youth-serving organizations to discuss the physical, behavioral, and academic challenges faced by children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD is caused by maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Children with FASD are at high risk for involvement with the juvenile justice system. The listening session featured interactive discussions as well as presentations by experts on the causes and consequences of FASD, the treatment needs of children with FASD, and strategies for better serving children with FASD who are in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. During the meeting, the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law shared a draft plan to improve the responses of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems to children with FASD. Participants commented on the draft, and subcommittees formed to revise the draft into a document that would provide actionable recommendations.

OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee offered introductory remarks and participated in discussions on the session's opening day. “Alcohol wreaks its havoc at the most vulnerable stage of human development. The effects are lifelong, and they are irreversible,” said Administrator Listenbee. “This exposure to alcohol can predispose children to an elevated risk for trauma. We need to be better informed about the factors that dispose these kids to come into contact with the justice system, how to effectively represent these youth in court, and how to most appropriately handle these youth if they should enter the juvenile justice system,” he said.

The Pew Charitable Trusts Releases Juvenile Justice Reform Briefs

The Pew Charitable Trusts has released two Web briefs:

Vera Institute of Justice Releases New Publications

	Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based PracticeThe Vera Institute of Justice, which engages in research and demonstration projects and provides technical assistance to improve the justice system, recently released two new resources:

Report on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Minors To Be Released Next Month

On September 25, 2013, the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Research Council (NRC) will release a final report on the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The study, funded by OJJDP,  was conducted by a committee of independent experts who reviewed and synthesized relevant literature in a range of fields, including the behavioral sciences, health and medicine, and law; examined law enforcement data, health surveys, and national juvenile justice data sets; and consulted with experts and knowledgeable stakeholders. In the forthcoming report, the committee recommends strategies to respond to the commercial sexual exploitation of minors, including policies and practices for human services, health care agencies, juvenile justice agencies, law enforcement, and the judiciary; assesses the adequacy of current state and federal laws; and outlines a research agenda to guide future studies in this field. IOM and NRC are branches of the National Academy of Sciences.

Webinar Examines How Youth's Access to Counsel Can Improve Conditions in Detention and Correctional Facilities

NC4YC logoOn July 17, 2013, OJJDP's National Center for Youth in Custody (NC4YC) presented “Providing Access to Counsel to Improve Facility Conditions.” The 90-minute Webinar explored how access to counsel for youth in confinement can result in safer detention and correctional facilities, enhanced operations, and improved staff-resident relationships. Presenters showcased youth voices on the importance of attorney engagement and highlighted examples of effective practices nationwide. The Webinar is the sixth in the NC4YC series on improving conditions of confinement. All Webinars in the series may be accessed on the NC4YC Web site.

National Girls Institute Presents Webinars on Trauma-Informed Care

On August 7, 2013, OJJDP's National Girls Institute hosted the Webinar, “A Trauma-Informed Effective Reinforcement (TIER) System for Girls in Residential Facilities.” The online session reviewed the framework of the TIER System for Girls, which diminishes negative, destructive behaviors through supportive techniques that teach girls the necessary skills to manage their own challenging feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. The Webinar provided examples of processes and techniques that have been effective in motivating positive behavior. The Webinar, “Girls at Risk: A Trauma-Informed Approach,” held on June 26, examined the much higher rates of trauma exposure, including physical and sexual abuse, among girls in the justice system, as compared with girls in the general population. Many of these girls struggle with alcohol and drug dependence as well as physical and mental health disorders. The Webinar explored how institutions can incorporate trauma-informed approaches into services, program activities, and the day-to-day relationships between staff and girls who are in their care. Audio recordings of the Webinars are available online.

Education Department Video Offers Messages of Hope for Bullying Victims

Stopbullying.govIn a recently released video, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff share personal stories of bullying and offer messages of hope to youth who are being bullied in our nation's schools. In addition, Seth Galanter, ED's Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, discusses federal legislation that protects individuals from harassment on the basis of race, sex, and disability; and Deb Delisle, ED's Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, describes the guidance issued by ED to schools, school districts, and state departments of education on how to effectively address bullying. ED offers a range of resources and tools for parents, educators, and students to use to stop harassment. Many of these resources are available on the StopBullying.gov Web site.

Study Examines Link Between Childhood Bullying and Adult Psychiatric Disorders

A blog post for stopbullying.gov reports on published research by Duke University professors showing that victims of childhood bullying have a greater risk of developing mental health problems later in life. The researchers conducted yearly interviews of 1,000 children (starting at ages 9, 11, and 13) and followed up with them in adulthood. Key findings include:

  • Youth who were victims of bullying had a greater chance of having agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic disorders.
  • Youth who bullied were at risk for antisocial personality disorder.
  • Youth who bullied and were also victims of bullying were at greater risk for adult depression and panic disorder and at increased risk for agoraphobia in females and suicidality in males.

National Children's Advocacy Center Offers Free Online Resources

The National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) offers a wealth of free resources for practitioners in the field of child abuse prevention and response. These resources include Prevention Fact Sheets, a collection of evidence-based literature related to prevention, investigation, and treatment; best practices and guidelines; research briefs; Webinars; and Ask the Expert sessions that address emerging issues. NCAC Web site users can also earn a course-completion certificate with 1 of more than 40 free online training courses.

Report Cover

KIDS COUNT Data Book Addresses Trends in Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book. This publication provides state and national data on 16 key indicators of child well-being across four domains—economics, education, health, and family and community—and state rankings. Children continue to progress in the education and health domains despite the growing poverty rate. New data on America’s youngest children contribute to the ongoing conversation on the importance of early childhood education.

IACP Launches School Safety Online Training Series

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in collaboration with OJJDP, invites law enforcement, school officials, and allied stakeholders tasked with ensuring school safety to participate in a series of four school safety online trainings: “Forming Your Safe School Planning Team,” “Assessing School Safety,” “Preparing for a School Crisis,” and “Responding to a School Crisis.” These interactive, introductory level trainings are designed to assist in the development of crisis response plans to prevent and respond to events that threaten the safety of school environments. Training topics include:

  • Identifying needs, gaps, and strategies for performing a comprehensive school safety assessment.
  • Identifying potential members, roles, and responsibilities for a school safety planning team.
  • Creating or revising preparedness strategies.
  • Developing crisis response strategies and incorporating them into a school safety plan.

These online trainings are based on IACP's and OJJDP's highly successful classroom training, “Partnerships for Safe Schools,” which has been delivered 39 times in the past 13 years to more than 1,700 law enforcement and school personnel representing 32 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas. Trainings are free, self-paced, and can be taken at any time.