Strengthening Youth Justice Practices with Developmental Knowledge and Principles

cover_aecfreportButts, Jeffrey A. (2014). Strengthening Youth Justice Practices with Developmental Knowledge and Principles. Consultant Briefing Paper, Prepared for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Baltimore, MD.

Positive youth development (PYD) is a field of practice that applies lessons from the science of adolescent development to the routine practices of youth-serving organizations. The PYD approach encourages communities and agencies to build upon the positive assets of youth rather than simply reduce youth problems and treat youth deficits. It judges success by every youth’s attainment of positive outcomes rather than their avoidance of negative outcomes. A PYD approach helps youth transition from adolescence to adulthood through the acquisition of pro-social skills and supportive relationships. Youth justice is a challenging environment in which to implement a rigorous PYD approach. The insights and lessons of developmental science do not translate easily into the day-to-day tasks of youth justice systems, which often focus on control and compliance. Youth justice practitioners require assistance as they apply developmental principles. The Positive Youth Justice (PYJ) Model was developed to meet this challenge. It provides a simple framework for designing PYD-compatible interventions for justice-involved young people and for supporting youth justice reforms.