Many Teen Detention Education Programs Do More Harm Than Good: Report

A new report by the Southern Education Foundation contends that many detention center education programs for juveniles do more harm than good, reports the Houma (La.) Courier. Students in those programs are far more likely than their peers in traditional schools to be behind in their class work or have substantial learning disabilities, according to the report, “Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems.”

Part of the problem is that the programs often fail to provide the youths, many of whom already had serious learning, psychological and emotional problems before a criminal conviction landed them in detention, support for dealing with such issues. “We conducted this study to get a clear look at what happens to a truly invisible population,” said Steve Suitts of the foundation. “The juvenile justice education programs that serve hundreds of thousands of students are characterized by low expectations, inadequate support to address student needs, and ineffective instruction and technology,” he said. “Students come out of the juvenile justice system in worse shape than when they entered, struggling to return to school or get their lives back on track.” The foundation contends detention centers, particularly in the South, are overcrowded and operate without priority or focus on education.

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