Youth in Adult Courts: Dangers and Injustices
In 2016, former President Obama declared October as National Youth Justice Awareness Month to bring awareness to the dangers that youth face when prosecuted and sentenced in adult courts. These youth are often isolated from other youth and face harsher punishments than those who are sentenced in juvenile courts. Youth of color and youth in special education are disproportionately sentenced in adult courts compared to other youth demographics. National Youth Justice Awareness Month is a call to action to change these trends and provide humane, rehabilitative, and equitable treatment for all youth served in the justice system.
At ACOE, we stand up for justice, stand out in excellence, and stand together in partnership for every young person throughout the county. We encourage classrooms, after school programs, student leadership groups, and youth clubs to take action this October to raise awareness about National Youth Justice Awareness Month. Here are some ideas on how youth can get involved:
- Promote National Youth Justice Awareness Month in your class or throughout your school with informational flyers or a presentation.
- Present a resolution to your district's school board requesting that October be officially recognized as National Youth Justice Awareness Month.
- Start a social media campaign with your network addressing this issue and the need for equity.
- Create a video on how the need for National Youth Justice Awareness personally affects you and your community.
- Host a movie night with a youth group to watch a documentary about the US justice system.
However you decide to get involved, let us know about it! We would like to support your effort by sharing your project with key stakeholders in school districts throughout Alameda county.
Resources to help you get started
- Take Action
- Social Media Promotion
- Pass a Resolution or Proclamation to declare October National Youth Justice Awareness Month
- US Department of Education Guidelines for Restraint and Seclusion
- Resource Center--a program of Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention
15 Principles Drafted by the U.S. Dept. of Education on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in School
- Every effort should be made to prevent the need for the use of restraint and for the use of seclusion.
- Schools should never use mechanical restraints to restrict a child’s freedom of movement, and schools should never use a drug or medication to control behavior or restrict freedom of movement (except as authorized by a licensed physician or other qualified health professional).
- Physical restraint or seclusion should not be used except in situations where the child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others and other interventions are ineffective and should be discontinued as soon as imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others has dissipated.
- Policies restricting the use of restraint and seclusion should apply to all children, not just children with disabilities.
- Any behavioral intervention must be consistent with the child’s rights to be treated with dignity and to be free from abuse.
- Restraint or seclusion should never be used as punishment or discipline (e.g., placing in seclusion for out-of-seat behavior), as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience.
- Restraint or seclusion should never be used in a manner that restricts a child’s breathing or harms the child.
- The use of restraint or seclusion, particularly when there is repeated use for an individual child, multiple uses within the same classroom, or multiple uses by the same individual, should trigger a review and, if appropriate, revision of strategies currently in place to address dangerous behavior; if positive behavioral strategies are not in place, staff should consider developing them.
- Behavioral strategies to address dangerous behavior that results in the use of restraint or seclusion should address the underlying cause or purpose of the dangerous behavior.
- Teachers and other personnel should be trained regularly on the appropriate use of effective alternatives to physical restraint and seclusion, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports and, only for cases involving imminent danger of serious physical harm, on the safe use of physical restraint and seclusion. Every effort should be made to prevent the need for the use of restraint and for the use of seclusion.
- Every instance in which restraint or seclusion is used should be carefully and continuously and visually monitored to ensure the appropriateness of its use and safety of the child, other children, teachers, and other personnel.
- Parents should be informed of the policies on restraint and seclusion at their child’s school or other educational setting, as well as applicable Federal, State, or local laws.
- Parents should be notified as soon as possible following each instance in which restraint or seclusion is used with their child.
- Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should be reviewed regularly and updated as appropriate.
- Policies regarding the use of restraint and seclusion should provide that each incident involving the use of restraint or seclusion should be documented in writing and provide for the collection of specific data that would enable teachers, staff, and other personnel to understand and implement the preceding principles.
The Power of Collaboration: Youth Action in Alameda County.
A Special Message from L. Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools: A Call to Youth Action!
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe interviews two students after an Alameda County Board of Education meeting.