Juvenile Diversion Programs to Keep Kids out of Trouble
Juvenile diversion programs are a better option for keeping teens out of the system. Learn all about the impact of these programs and why they work.
More than 2 million youth are arrested in the United States each year. Rearrest rates in some areas are as high as 70-80% within two years. 40% will be serving an adult sentence in the prison system before the age of 25.
Many officials realize they need a new plan to help stop the cycle of recidivism.
Juvenile diversion programs are an effective way to cope with the increase in young offenders. These programs try and help troubled youth find a more productive and successful path in life.
Keep reading to learn how youth diversion programs help youth gain a brighter future.
A Learning Experience Rather Than Punishment
Youth diversion programs turn a negative situation into an opportunity for growth.
The purpose is to teach more effective life skills instead of focusing on the punishment aspect of justice.
These offenders are young and impressionable. They can spend their time learning positive skills instead of surrounded by criminals teaching them more about crime.
Support and Hope Through Juvenile Diversion Programs
Many minor offenders are on the wrong path because they don’t have a support system or resources available.
Often there are mental health, substance abuse, family issues, and trauma in their past that has left them feeling hopeless and lost.
Youth diversion programs can help them find the resources and programs they need. This gives them the support to discover the right path for them.
Youth diversion program participants learn coping skills. They have resources and often find life-long mentors. They also receive treatment for mental and physical conditions interfering with their success.
Mental Health Resources
A majority, approximately 66% of male youth offenders and 75% of female youth detained for a crime are coping with at least one mental health condition. Many have complex mental health concerns with more than one possible diagnosis.
These programs are designed to get offenders the treatments and interventions needed. They are put in touch with the resources they need to manage their mental illness or mental health concerns.
Most people with mental health issues are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator of one. Less than 5% of violent crimes are committed by someone with a serious mental illness.
Juvenile offenders with mental illness may be acting out in other ways. They often engage in self-destructive behaviors. Self-medicating and other acts of self endangerment are common. As are crimes that involve details of solicitation and prostitution.
Group or individual therapy, as well as medical interventions, may be offered.
Career Goals and Job Skills
Most intervention programs include some form of career planning and job skills programs. Some include work and apprenticeship programs. There are usually educational training programs. Most offer resume and interview workshops, and high school diploma equivalency preparation classes.
Youth may also get guidance in setting educational and career goals. Resources for financial and emotional support can give otherwise despondent youth direction.
Proactive and Preventative Interventions
Many juvenile diversion programs don’t just wait until a youth is already embedded in the system to take action. They reach out to at-risk youth and provide deterrents to a life of crime.
Mentors, youth activities, “scared straight” and community programs are offered to give youth an alternative to life on the streets or getting in trouble with a life of bad choices leading to a life in and out of the criminal justice system.
A chance to experience a day in prison, having to perform community service or other interventions can help a young person to start making better decisions so they do not end up within the prison system.
Youth often end up in the juvenile justice system because of financial stresses in their life. Higher education or gainful employment may not seem an option because they have no financial means to make it happen.
Juvenile diversion programs can help youth to figure out financial solutions for food and shelter, education, employment, medical costs and other necessities of life. This can take a lot of the stress and pressure off of the individual youth and their entire family.
Learning how to prepare financially for the future can open up opportunities and possibilities the youth had never considered an option because of their current situation.
A Listening Ear and Helping Hand
Youth diversion programs not only minimize troubled youth from becoming repeat offenders but is an opportunity to make positive life-changing connections. Life stresses can seem overwhelming if a young person feels alone against the world.
Programs give them new mentors, educators, law enforcement, social workers, mental health care professionals and peers as positive influences.
A listening ear and a helping hand are often what is needed for someone to be able to reach their full potential and become a positive and productive member of society.
The support system built can be crucial in changing the trajectory of at-risk young offenders lives. Feeling valued, listened to, and understood can ease anxiety, relieve depression, inspire and motivate.
A Brighter Tomorrow
Teenagers and young adults who end up in the system often have a history that involves abuse, neglect, and other complex and difficult traumatic events.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not something that only soldiers face, it can be a battle for many youths with traumatic pasts.
Learning new positive coping techniques and effective life skills can help at-risk youth see and plan a brighter future while successfully processing the past.
Youth diversion programs will often provide opportunities for young offenders to learn how their actions affect others. Victims of crimes are given the chance to help offenders understand the pain and consequences of their actions for them.
Families of the juvenile are also given the chance to express the impact their crimes have had on their loved ones. This can help deepen their ability to feel empathy and compassion for their victims and others and lessen the chance of them reoffending.
Juvenile Diversion Programs Work
There are statistics and studies from around the world that show time and again that juvenile diversion programs are more effective than incarceration for stopping youth from becoming career criminals.
These programs can be a positive influence in the life of the youth, their family and the community.