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The Most Harmed Should Define the Change

Engage Youth, Family, and Community

An overwhelming body of research shows that parents and families are crucial to successful youth development. Unfortunately, most youth justice systems are more inclined to ignore, alienate or blame family members than engage them as partners.

Involved adults are necessary to keep young people active in their own rehabilitation. Using techniques such as family conferencing, jurisdictions are learning to work with parents—not against them—for the benefit of youth. Counties are soliciting consumer feedback from youth in their care, thereby improving the quality of their programs and also building competencies in young people. Participatory justice initiatives aim to engage a broad swath of community members in a youth’s rehabilitation. Young people and their parents around the country are successfully advocating for reform.

Equally important is involving youth and families in advocating for policy reform -- and supporting and fostering their leadership of those efforts. 

>> Download NJJN's publication, "An Advocate's Guide to Meaningful Family Partnerships: Tips from the Field."

Principles of Youth Justice Reform



Each National Juvenile Justice Network member embraces these principles of reform, and conducts state-based work on at least two principles. These principles and the associated text are from "Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint," developed by the Youth Transition Funders Group.