Positive Youth Justice

cover_pyj2010_shadowButts, Jeffrey A., Gordon Bazemore, and Aundra Saa Meroe (2010). Positive Youth Justice: Framing Justice Interventions Using the Concepts of Positive Youth Development. Washington, DC: Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

Positive youth development could be an effective framework for designing general interventions for young offenders. Such a framework would encourage youth justice systems to focus on protective factors as well as risk factors, strengths as well as problems, and broader efforts to facilitate successful transitions to adulthood for justice-involved youth. The positive youth development approach supports youth in making successful transitions from adolescence to early adulthood by encouraging young people to develop useful skills and competencies, and to build stronger connections with pro-social peers, families, and communities (Butts, Mayer, & Ruth, 2005). Young people engaged with trustworthy adults and peers in the pursuit of meaningful activities and the acquisition of new skills are more likely to build the developmental assets needed for a positive adulthood. These assets include physical and psychological safety; age-appropriate and meaningful relationships; opportunities to belong; positive social norms; self-efficacy; opportunities for skill building and collective recognition; and the integration of family, school, and community resources (Gardner, Roth, & Brooks-Gunn, 2008).