Online Program

Gun Violence and its impact on Children: Criminal Justice and Youth Violence Prevention

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 1:27 p.m. - 1:40 p.m.

Elena Quintana, PhD, Institute on Public Safety & Social Justice, Adler School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, IL
Background   The United States imprisons more youth than any other nation.  Approximately 500,000 youth are brought to detention centers annually.  Approximately 13,000 children annually are tried as adults for offences including drug sales, theft, rape, murder, and aggravated battery.  Many states have no specified minimum age, and some states have laws that allow for Juvenile Life Without the Possibility of Parole.  Children are qualitatively different from adults in terms of neuroplasticity, and overall neurobiological development.   

Methods: Mixed methodology of qualitative assessment through multiple interviews with each juvenile and review of archival data, such as recidivism rates of detained court involved youth.

OutcomesOf juveniles locked up,  66-95% never return to school post-release.  The lead predictor in whether or not a person will go to prison as an adult is whether or not they were detained as a juvenile. In Cook County, 93% of detained youth report experiencing trauma, and 84% report having an extensive background of witnessing, experiencing, and sometimes participating in traumatic events such as those listed in the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

Conclusions  Detaining young people in juvenile correctional facilities promises negative returns on our public safety investments.  Brain science suggests that alternative responses to youth violence within communities can produce youth more likely to be able to positively integrate into community, and less likely to spend their adult years harming others or occupying a jail cell.  Study results promote trauma-informed interventions that foster pro-social functionality rather than juvenile detention, shown to inhibit future social and emotional development.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how trauma-informed community alternatives to detention can best serve youth exposed to violence, and decrease future involvement in activities that put youth most at risk for involvement in violence.

Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Quintana is a Clinical and Community Psychologist specializing in the promotion of public safety via violence prevention. She has worked in the field of violence prevention for over 20 years, including directing the evaluation for an international violence prevention program Cure Violence (formerly known as CeaseFire) for a period of twelve years. Currently she directs the Institute for Public Safety and Social Justice that seeks to address public safety challenges with socially just solutions.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.