Using Developmental Principles in Youth Justice

The positive.youth.justice website is hosted by the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, NY. The site is designed to support and promote youth justice programs that are informed by the science of adolescent development and built around the concepts of the Positive Youth Justice Model.

logo_johnjayDespite the obvious relevance of adolescent development for the design and operation of youth justice programs, developmental science is not yet the dominant framework for interventions in youth justice.

One straightforward way of increasing the developmental efficacy of youth justice would be to build programs and policies around the concepts presented in the Positive Youth Justice (PYJ) Model, which is a practical guide for applying positive youth development principles in justice settings.

Before the PYJ model can become a standard approach for delivering services and supports in a youth justice context, however, researchers and practitioners must also continue to test and refine the model. First, they need to reduce the multitude of developmental concepts to a workable set of core elements. Having too many goals and principles is akin to having none. Next, youth justice professionals need to construct a framework that joins the operational realities of youth justice with the broad array of ideas linked with positive adolescent development. Practitioners need a framework that is clearly rooted in the theoretical and empirical literature about adolescent development, but customized for a youth justice environment.

The positive.youth.justice website is designed to explain and disseminate the concepts and strategies suggested by the PYJ Model.

logo_cjjThe document that launched the Positive Youth Justice Model was published in 2010 by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice.