Incorporating Positive Youth Development Into Juvenile Justice

William H. Barton, Indiana University Purdue University
Pamela Clark, Bartholomew County Youth Service Center

In this paper, the authors explore the potential theoretical and practical integration of the positive youth development and juvenile justice perspectives. These perspectives often appear to be mutually exclusive. Instead of focusing on youth problems, such as juvenile delinquency, school dropout, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, the positive youth development framework emphasizes the conditions promoting the healthy development of all young people. The tension between the youth development and juvenile justice perspectives is often manifested in disagreements over funding priorities and strategies, with the former recommending comprehensive community mobilization and the latter recommending targeted prevention and treatment programming. Theoretical models emphasizing risk and protective factors and resiliency may provide a conceptual bridge between the perspectives. The authors conclude by discussing the incorporation of positive youth development into juvenile justice programs such as juvenile detention centers.

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Updated 05/20/2006