Pediatrics

Advocacy and Collaborative Health Care for Justice-Involved Youth


Children and adolescents who become involved with the justice system often do so with complex medical, mental health, developmental, social, and legal needs. Most have been exposed to childhood trauma or adversity, which both contribute to their involvement with the justice system and negatively impact their health and well-being. Whether youth are held in confinement or in their home communities, pediatricians play a critical role in promoting the health and well-being of justice-involved youth. Having a working knowledge of the juvenile justice system and common issues facing justice-involved youth may help pediatricians enhance their clinical care and advocacy efforts. This policy statement is a revision of the 2011 policy “Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” It provides an overview of the juvenile justice system, describes racial bias and overrepresentation of youth of color in the justice system, reviews the health and mental health status of justice-involved youth, and identifies advocacy opportunities for juvenile justice reform.

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