Chronicle of Social Change

Positive Youth Justice: Curbing Crime, Building Assets

By John Kelly
February 9, 2015

Underneath the tension-laden surface of national politics, there is growing agreement that the United States needs to rethink criminal justice, that the nation is over-reliant on expensive and ineffectual incarceration and short on other strategies that would lower the likelihood of continued criminal behavior. …

The reality is that most youth simply need someone to identify and build on their strengths, not only focus on their weaknesses. This is known as a positive youth justice (PYJ) approach, a belief that working on the interests and skills of an individual youth is the best way to steer them away from bad choices.

The model is most succinctly explained in a recent brief written by Dr. Jeffrey Butts, a noted juvenile justice researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a leading proponent of PYJ:

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