The Coalition for Juvenile Justice has issued a report calling for the use of “positive youth development” approaches in juvenile justice, reports Youth Today. Study authors Jeff Butts of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Gordon Bazemore of Florida Atlantic University argue that treating young offenders purely as villains, who are in need of punishment, is pointless from the perspective of improving their chances to be productive citizens. Treating them purely as victims in need of treatment does not entirely prepare them to be productive adults either.
Positive Youth Development approaches, say Butts and Bazemore, have the best chance to accomplish what most juveniles need: building on their strengths and connecting them to the community they live in. Say the authors: “Youth who commit violent acts, for example, will always prompt a strong response from law enforcement and corrections. Yet, punishment and deterrence are not effective strategies for helping youth to succeed at school and work.”