Teaching Our Youth in Juvenile Detention, What Are They Learning?

source: pbs.org

When you send a youth to juvenile detention it takes the place of everything in their life. They go to school in the facility, play, and do most of the things that a normal youth would, like chores, right there in the same building. But what are they actually learning in that facility when they start their education? Well, that depends on a number of things including the youth themselves, their school and the facility that they are in.

Reaching the School

source: nba.com

The youth that are in juvenile detention are actually at the mercy of their school when it comes to setting up their classes and what they’re going to be learning and doing while they are in the facility. The staff will get ahold of the teachers at their home school and will then get any information they possibly can from those teachers including homework and other assignments. This is the best case scenario and allows the youth to keep up with their classmates and jump right back into their normal environment when they are released again. But this isn’t always the case and even when it is, the youth may face other problems. 

A Lack of Support

source: tncxepic.wordpress.com

Though there are a number of staff members in the facility, very few will have the training to act as a true teacher and therefore may have difficulty in providing the youth themselves with assistance if they have problems. All of this can result in difficulty for a youth who doesn’t quite understand what they’re doing or that is getting into information that isn’t familiar to them. All of this can result in difficulty when the youth returns to their home school and even in getting assignments done while in the facility, which is required for their stay.

Youth require additional help when they are working on homework assignments, of the type that they would otherwise be able to get from teachers and even additional tutoring services. What this means is that youth are not receiving what they should in the way of education. There needs to be something else done to help them and make sure that their education continues in a positive way so they are prepared for everything that they need to succeed in their schooling, which is one of the most important things for a child. 


Moving Forward

Having true teachers in the facility, who are trained in a range of different age groups and different needs in the way of courses. If the youth are not able to get the training and advice that they need it’s going to be very difficult for them to continue on with their schooling because they won’t have the foundation that the rest of their friends have. Youth detention facilities need to take this into consideration and make sure that the teachers they have in the classrooms are actual teachers and that they can provide the youth with high quality education.

Keeping in mind that there are so many youth of different ages and different school levels in the room, it can be difficult to have a teacher who can help with so many different things, but it’s going to be absolutely crucial for them to do so. After all, those youth are dependent on the staff within the facility to keep them prepared for the rest of their life and all of the things that are going on outside of the facility. A teacher is one of the first things that they need and one of the most important to their success after leaving. 

Young Offenders Keep Getting Younger, And Here’s Why

source: thejournal.ie

Children have been getting into mischief pretty much since the dawn of time (or at least we can assume) but there’s a difference between normal mischief and actual criminal activity. Unfortunately, children are now getting involved in more and more criminal activity as well. What’s even more unfortunate is that the children who are doing these things seem to only get younger and younger every year, leading us to wonder, just what is happening to our youth?

The Consequences for Juveniles

source: commdiginews.com

Part of the problem of young offenders is the consequences for their actions. While many want to give children more than one chance and want to let them off with warnings, it’s turning into an epidemic. The problem isn’t giving children second chances or accepting that ‘kids will be kids.’ The problem is the type of crimes that these youth are committing and still being told that it’s not a big deal. With famous cases popping up with children who are let off with warnings or probation for serious crimes, youth are coming to the understanding that they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

The consequences for bad activity begin in the home and they start with the small things. A child who is never punished when they get into trouble (even minor mischief) will start to believe that they can do no wrong. A line has to be drawn where the child knows that what they are doing is bad and will not be allowed by the parents. This makes it easier for the child to understand laws as they become older and to recognize things that are right from wrong. If they don’t learn with small things when they’re younger, they definitely won’t learn later. 

The Age Change

source: greensboro.com

So why do juvenile offenders keep getting younger? Well one reason is that children seem to growing up faster. Younger and younger children are being left to their own devices at home or even in malls and other shopping centers. They wander around town on their own and they’re trusted to follow the rules and the laws without supervision. These youth are then doing what young children do, getting into mischief. But that mischief is turning into something even more serious because of the lack of supervision.

Where traditionally a child of 8 or 10 would be watched by a parent or guardian and corrected immediately, they are now being left to their own devices in an environment where their own guidance is their own thoughts and ideas and those of their friends who are the same age. In the end, these children tend to come up with ideas that they may consider harmless or fun, but that can actually result in serious injury or criminal activity. Where it may seem funny to take that bike out of someone’s yard, it’s actually a serious crime. Where a fight between youth may seem all in good fun, someone could easily get hurt.

By providing better supervision and careful instruction on rules, youth are much better prepared for their later years, rather than creating bad habits that can turn into something far more serious. Something minor today, at the age of 8 or 9, could turn into a very serious problem by the age of 15 or 16. It’s up to parents to make sure that they are doing all they can to guide their children the right way and keep them from developing the type of habits that can easily lead them down a path that they don’t even understand at the time. 

The Truth Behind Sending Youth to Juvenile Detention

source: texastribune.org

When an adult commits a crime we send them to jail or prison. When a youth commits a crime however, we send them to their own version of jail. Called ‘juvenile detention’ this facility is tasked with the ‘detention’ of a youth who has committed an act that they are legally not allowed to do. We expect that these facilities will help to rehabilitate a youthful offender and lead them to avoid the same type of behavior in the future, but are they really doing that?


What it Means to Go To Juvenile Detention

source: youtube.com

In many ways, juvenile detention is similar to a jail, but it’s full of other youth rather than adults. Those youth could have committed any type of offense from skipping school to robbery. As long as they are being charged as a juvenile, their crime gets them sent here, with other kids. The kids are provided with uniforms and all of their personal belongings are taken away. They’re provided with individual rooms that consist of barely more than a bed and a small table or desk, both of which may be built right into the walls and floor.

The days are regimented with all activities being required, including time outdoors or in a gym, class time and more. Youth are allowed free time, but it’s when the staff chooses to provide it and that free time is based on the behavior of the youth up until that point. Youth may be permitted to watch TV but may have to earn additional privileges like being able to play games, read books, draw, write letters or anything else. In order to be able to do these things, youth must either earn or be able to retain points throughout the day.

Does Rehabilitation Work?

source: recovery.org

Rehabilitation definitely can work, but it needs to be done in careful ways. For youth, juvenile detention is intended to help rehabilitate them. It’s designed to make sure that they see what could happen to them if they continue to break the law, and it’s designed to keep them separate from adult offenders because they are different from those adult offenders. But in many ways, it’s a type of punishment for those children simply being children in the first place. After all, in an environment where all your time is regimented, there’s not much you can get in trouble for.

Youth can be punished for moving without asking permission, talking to loudly or even at all, touching other youth in any manner, outbursts, teasing or joking with other youth and most definitely talking back to the staff. Any of these offenses can be punished by losing points, being sent to their rooms or even losing privileges like games or even visits from their family. While punishments of some type are necessary for extreme behavior or anything that could be dangerous, punishing children simply for acting like children, especially when that’s the exact reason they’re in the facility, is troublesome.


When we treat youth in a detention facility as though the behaviors that are completely normal to their age group are bad and meant to be eradicated, we are essentially destroying the very reason that those youth are in the facility in the first place. In many ways, a juvenile facility can cause more harm in the process of rehabilitation, if they aren’t careful. Teaching youth to grow up too quickly can only emphasize the problems they are already having, and can definitely result in more difficulty in rehabilitating them while in the facility and even after they leave it. 

Punishment and Reward Systems in Juvenile Detention Facilities: Do They Really Work?

source: jjie.org

When a youth is sent to juvenile detention they are provided with a set of rules. These rules are required to be followed at all times or the juvenile will find themselves being punished in one of many different ways. Youth can have privileges taken away for bad behavior and rewards given for positive behavior, in much the same ways as they could if they were at home, but these can be more serious when a youth is in a detention facility.

The Rewards

source: thedailybeast.com

Rewards while in juvenile detention include things like, the ability to write with pens and pencils, draw, read or play games. Even having visits with their family are rewards that are given only if the youth exhibits good behavior. These rewards are given simply by following the rules and behaving. But it’s extremely possible for those rewards to be taken away just as easily (or even more so) than they are provided to the youth. While this is the way of life even when the youth is not in detention, it can be a big problem for these youth especially.

The Punishments

source: tulsaworld.com

Being able to participate in activities, such as drawing, writing and playing games is crucial to a child’s development. Being a part of group activities and having socialization is a requirement and yet, in a juvenile detention facility, these requirements for a happy and healthy life, can easily be taken away for a child simply behaving like a child. This can result in extremely hazardous effects on a child’s psyche because they are being taught that behaving as a child is in fact a bad thing and that they must grow up too quickly and also that they must be antisocial and withdrawn.

Punishments that take away the ability of a youth to socialize capitalize on the negative traits that could have led a youth to participate in these types of behavior in the first place. Even more, denying a youth the ability to interact with loved ones because of poor behavior only increases the likelihood of poor behavior as well. The youth needs support and encouragement from those in their family and when these opportunities are denied it can result in the youth feeling rejected and unloved. This results in further withdrawal from the family upon release and can result in even more negative behavior.


What Can Be Done?

There is a fine line between protecting the youth that are in the facility from harm, including keeping rules in place to reduce the future risk of these things, and completely pulling them away from their life and their family as well as their ability to be kids. The point of juvenile detention is to keep a youth as a youth, without having to worry about them being hindered further in their development and change by adults. But punishing them by pulling them away from others, and rewarding them only for staying away from others, is not a benefit to anyone.

Youth who end up in juvenile detention facilities are already suffering from problems in their lives, whether personal problems or problems in their home. Encouraging socialization and encouraging any positive interaction and support from family is crucial to helping them move on with their lives and continue to develop and grow as successful adults after they leave the facility. Yet the facility will often try to curb these types of behavior or will use them to punish the youth, resulting only in more problems rather than helping them come back to themselves in a positive manner.

Is Juvenile Detention the Best Place for Truancy?

source: nwnewsnetwork.org

There are a number of different things that a youth can do to get themselves put in juvenile detention. Anything that we consider a crime for an adult is considered illegal for youth as well and can get them into one of these types of facilities. But there are a few things that are illegal for youth but are not for adults. One of those is truancy. Because it’s illegal for youth, they can be sent to juvenile detention for excessive truancy, but is that really the best place?

Why it Happens

source: propublica.org

Youth who commit any kind of offense are sent to juvenile detention unless they are given probation or tried as an adult. If they are tried as an adult they can be sent to a regular jail or prison. This means youth may commit offenses all the way up to assault and robbery even, and still be sent to a juvenile detention facility. Smaller offenses, like truancy, are also sent to that same facility, resulting in potentially dangerous youth being housed in the same area as those who are skipping school.

What it Means

source: thenewstribune.com

While this may seem like an acceptable answer to helping youth change their ways, it can actually result in a lot of different problems. Think about the youth that are present in a juvenile detention facility and all of the things that they may have done to wind up there. Now think about the youth whose only offense is not going to school. These youth are going to be together, in one space, for an extended period of time with very little to occupy their time. The youth who has committed more serious offenses may very well be dangerous to the other youth in more ways than one.

Staff in a juvenile detention facility is tasked with protecting the youth from danger, which means they should always be able to stop a fight and keep other youth from being assaulted. But they may not always be able to stop youth from discussing their offenses. This can result in a misguided youth becoming a whole lot more aware of different types of offenses and possibly even leaving the facility to commit a more serious offense (or several of them) in the same way that many adult offenders leave jail or prison as a more accomplished criminal than they enter.

Youth who commit minor offenses, such as truancy, are not always engaged in other illegal activity. Leaving school may be the only thing they’ve ever done wrong. But throwing them into a group of youth who have committed more serious offenses can either terrify them entirely, or it can result in them deciding to do even worse the next time they’re out and able to do what they want to do. It can create a cycle for that youth where they become even more advanced in the activities they are pursuing. 


At this point in time we don’t have a lot of choices in the way of ‘punishing’ a youth who skips school other than sending them to a juvenile facility. But juvenile facilities, unlike adult ones, do not come in security levels. That means a lot of intermingling between youth with offenses of various severity levels and it means potential problems. A separation of these youth may be the best thing for all involved, but it’s going to require a lot of changes to the legal system, and more specifically the juvenile legal system, in order to make that a reality. But it’s definitely something that these children need.