Chronicle of Social Change

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The Chronicle of Social Change published a series of articles on applications of the Positive Youth Justice model. In the first summary article, John Kelly points out that the youth justice system tries to intervene in many areas of a young person’s life.

Marsalis Johnson, center, a former intern and now mechanic, assists a customer at Street Level Cycles a part of Waterside Workshops in Berkeley, California, February 20, 2015.
Marsalis Johnson, center, a former intern and now mechanic, assists a customer at Street Level Cycles a part of Waterside Workshops in Berkeley, California, February 20, 2015.

Substance abuse, serious mental health disorders, family problems and a history of abuse. These are the problems that current policies assume fuel the criminal behavior of some juveniles, but surely not all. 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. In the series of articles, Kelly profiles a number of programs across the United States that have embraced a positive youth development approach, which is consistent with the Positive Youth Justice model.

Part One: Rosie’s Place, Olympia, Washington

Part Two: Community Works, Oakland, California

Part Three: Tarrant County Advocate Program, Tarrant County, Texas

Part Four: William F. James Ranch, Santa Clara County, California

Part Five: Waterside Workshops, Berkeley, California