NF Header Image


Why Detained Youth Don't Get Mental Health Treatment
A bulletin in OJJDP's Beyond Detention Series looks at detained youths' perceptions of barriers to mental health services. The authors identified common beliefs among youth who did not receive services. Many felt their problems would go away without help, nearly one third didn't know how or where to seek help, and nearly one fifth experienced difficulty trying to obtain help. African American, Hispanic, and male detainees received significantly fewer services compared with non-Hispanic white and female youth.

Mental Health Disorders Among Arrested Youth
"Detained Youth Processed in Juvenile and Adult Court: Psychiatric Disorders and Mental Health Needs" is another part of the Beyond Detention series. Males, African Americans, Hispanics, and older youth were significantly more likely to be processed in adult criminal court than females, non-Hispanic whites, and younger children. Youth processed in adult court who were sentenced to prison had significantly greater odds of having a disruptive behavior disorder, substance use disorder, or co-occurring affective and anxiety disorders.

Best Practices for Child Forensic Interviewing
This bulletin highlights best practices for interviewing children in alleged abuse cases. The authors note each interview will differ, as children have unique ways of relating their experiences. Some need more time to adjust to the process, so interviewers should allow for pauses and silence before moving to the next question. Encouraging children to provide detailed responses early in the interview is shown to enhance their responses later on.

Gangs Use Social Media Too
Gangs are using Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to threaten each other in a practice called "cyber banging." Some written jabs between rivals have led to physical fights and even death. Chicago, Ill., police monitor social media sites, and they have worked with school social workers to prevent gang violence. Desmond Patton is a Columbia University social work professor who says if the language can be decoded, triggers could be sent to social and antiviolence workers who reach out directly to youth. Patton conducted an "Internet banging study," interviewing current or former young gang members from some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. He asked what they see on social media, how they use it, how they believe it connects to violence in the neighborhood, and under what conditions they are responding to situations and posts they believe to be threatening.

Prevention Is Worth the Effort
Despite seeing its highest homicide rates since 2009, the Salinas, Calif., police department is confident local preventive programs to reduce gang and youth violence are working. "When we have these spikes," said Police Chief Kelly McMillin, "people rightfully ask, 'What are you doing differently, what are you going to do right now?' But we have a comprehensive strategy to address youth violence, and our commitment to that strategy does not change." Chief McMillin noted that other cities are also facing increasing violence and that reduced enforcement capacity is partly responsible.

Justice Department Awards Grants for a Second Chance
The Department of Justice awarded $53 million in Second Chance Act (SCA) grants to state, local, and tribal organizations in 45 jurisdictions. SCA programs work to reduce recidivism and provide reentry services for adults and youth after confinement.

Champions of Change; New Institute for Juvenile Justice TTA
Seven pairs of youth and law enforcement officials were honored in September as Champions of Change, including sergeants, students, faith leaders, and mentors. OJJDP also awarded a grant to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to administer a police–youth engagement program. IACP will partner with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice to convene a youth and law enforcement roundtable and develop an institute for training and technical assistance to maximize innovative approaches in law enforcement and juvenile justice reform.

Time to Stand Up Against LA Violence
After three children were shot in Los Angeles, Calif., last month, city leaders said the bloodshed has to end. "We must, as a city, find a way for our young people to solve their disputes that doesn't involve a gun," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. The city has welcomed 200 new officers to its force and organized gang reduction and youth development teams.

Chicago Shootings: Is the Budget to Blame?
Community activists say some of the uptick in Chicago, Ill., gun violence is due to a budget impasse cutting programing and counseling services for youth. A community organizer noted fewer summer jobs this year (300, down from 1,000 in 2014). The church has laid off workers and now closes earlier, leaving some children with one fewer afterschool activity.

Cleveland Teen Leads March Against Violence
St. Martin de Porres student Naudia Loftis is a 17-year-old activist. She organized the Value OUR Lives Rally and invited Cleveland, Ohio, residents to speak out about local violence. In September, Loftis marched for the toddlers and kindergarteners whose lives were cut short and the parents who had to bury them. "I feel like it's time for me to say something," she said. "If nobody speaks out, then we continue to just sit, and sitting doesn't change anything. That's how we're in the predicament we're in now."

Gang Members Build New Community Center
A church-run building in Kansas City, Mo., will soon be the Kamgang Community Center, a safe place for youth. The center will honor 20-year-old Kameron Gay, who was killed Sept. 16. Former gang members are looking for volunteers and supplies to move the renovation forward.

Sports a Factor in Positive Youth Development
Up2Us Sports, a youth development organization, brought 80 youth coaches together in a 4-day training on violence prevention through athletics. An expert panel included the director of the LA Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, ESPN Commentator Pam Shriver, and Commanders Joseph Gooden and Black Chow. The discussion focused on leveraging community strengths to curb youth violence and covered issues of culture, trauma, practice, and delivery.

Memphis Police Empower City Youth
Five hundred Memphis, Tenn., students participated in a youth empowerment conference, part of the city police department's Community Outreach Program. The program equips students with strategies for maintaining safety at school and in their communities. At the conference, officers and other motivational speakers discussed conflict resolution, gang prevention, sex crimes, and civil unrest.

Detroit Youth Work Toward Gentrification
Over the past year, black youth in Detroit, Mich., have launched organizations and initiatives focused on land and water justice, housing and economic cooperatives, gender and sexual liberation, and intracommunity gun violence, as well as a platform from which to elevate the stories of youth. The Coalition for Black Struggle, New Era Detroit, and Black Youth Project 100 are groups that strive to leverage black social and economic power in the city and build intracommunity unity.

Cleveland Job Corps Walks for Peace
More than 300 youths and their instructors from the Cleveland Job Corps marched in a September peace walk as part of a national effort to curb violence. The walk culminated events hosted during "Step Up to Safety Week."

Portland Struggles With Gang Violence
Thirteen shootings over a 2-week span in North, Northeast, Southeast, and downtown Portland, Ore., have left three dead and pushed gang violence calls to 146—the city's highest number since 1998. With six detectives and 25 officers, police are investigating cases in which detectives can gather the most leads for an arrest. But widespread, random violence makes it harder for police, gang outreach workers, and probation officers to prevent shootings.