Quarterly Meeting Summary
Office of Justice Programs
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
held its quarterly meeting on Monday, March 29, 1999, from 1
to 3:30 p.m. at the Office of Justice Programs in Washington,
DC. A list of those who attended the meeting is included at the
end of this summary.
Top of Page
- Welcome and Introductions,
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General
- New Issue: Resiliency Factors
and Delinquency Prevention, Suzanne Stutman, M.A.,
M.S.W., President, Institute for Mental Health Initiatives;
and Carolyn Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University
of Albany, State University of New York
- Issue Update:
Lead Poisoning and Delinquency,
Coordinator, Child Abuse
and Neglect Programs, OJJDP
Welcome and Introductions
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General
Attorney General Reno thanked everyone for their continued interest
and support of the Coordinating Council and welcomed the following
individuals to the Council: Chief Keith Oubre, Director of the Mississippi
Police Corps; Robert Babbage, Senior Managing Partner of InterSouth,
Inc.; and Professor Larry EchoHawk of the J. Rubin Clark Law School
of Brigham Young University.
Reno outlined the afternoon's agenda which included a presentation
by practitioner members on juveniles, capital punishment, and sentencing;
a presentation on youth resiliency and its impact on delinquency,
mental health, and substance abuse; an update from the Council's
Interagency Working Group on Child Maltreatment and Delinquency;
an update from the Council's Interagency Working Group on Lead Poisoning
and Delinquency; and a presentation by Ron Laney, Director of OJJDP's
Missing and Exploited Children's Program. Reno looks forward to receiving
a written report detailing findings and recommendations on international
abductions in April.
Reno stated that employees at the U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) and members of the Interagency
Working Group on Lead Poisoning and Delinquency are working hard
to address the issue of the effects of lead exposure on children.
However, she thinks more can be done through collaboration with
the U.S. Department of Education,
the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS), the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies to
determine other common interests and build on those interests.
HHS and Education are doing some interesting work with children
ages 0-3 years that DOJ could build on. If agencies can find connections
on a governmentwide basis, a real difference can be made.
John Wilson, Deputy Administrator and Acting Vice Chair of the
Coordinating Council, welcomed everyone on behalf of OJJDP, the Office
of Justice Programs, and OJJDP Administrator Shay Bilchik. He noted
that the practitioners have been busy, and OJJDP has been busy on
the legislative front, as evidenced by the morning meeting. In introducing
the next speakers, Wilson commented that, in the past, it was believed
that resiliency could not be built, but research today indicates
that this is not so.
Top of Page
New Issue: Resiliency Factors and
Suzanne Stutman, M.A., M.S.W., President, Institute for Mental
Carolyn Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of
Albany, State University of New York
Suzanne Stutman took the floor first to present what she believes
is some of the most important information about children that is
known today. Although its definition is still in process, she noted
resiliency is the ability to overcome multiple risks and adversity
and to adapt, grow, and be transformed by such adversity. The study
of resiliency began 4 decades ago, Stutman explained, when Dr. Emmy
Werner studied youth ages 0-18 years in Hawaii and found evidence
of delinquency, mental health problems, and pregnancy. It was Dr.
Werner's study of the one-third of the youth who did not have these
problems that formed the basis for considering resiliency. Dr. Norm
Gramercy also addressed resiliency as he studied schizophrenia in
children and recognized the need to study the forces- individual
strengths and the environment-that protected children and prevented
them from getting the disease. Michael Rudder in England similarly
found that the process or mechanism-not the variable-is what protects
The fact that some children rise to the challenge has led to the
development of the challenge model, which focuses on strengths or
protective factors. Rudder found that one-third of the young women
in one study developed into well functioning adults. One explanation
for this result, Rudder found, was positive school experience, which
entailed not only a positive academic experience but achieving excellence
in sports or music, holding positions of responsibility, or having
a positive experience with a teacher. Pleasure therefore translates
into resilience. As a result, these women chose healthy partners
and planned their marriages rather than marrying to escape a difficult
Success in school and intelligence also play an important role,
as do emotional intelligence and competence which make a profound
difference in the lives of youth. While the study of resilience teaches
that there is a continuous possibility for change, it should be noted
that individuals apply resilience differently. Developmental changes
and turning points determine when an individual is more or less able
to change. In addition, what may be a protective factor for one person
may be a risk factor for another.
The common denominators or characteristics of resiliency include
a facilitative environment (schools, caring relationships), skills
(social, problem-solving, and planning skills, and mastery of emotions),
and inner strengths (sense of worth, power, confidence, virtue, and
Following Stutman, Dr. Smith took the podium to discuss those characteristics
and the protective processes found to insulate children from conduct
problems. Her information is based primarily on the Rochester Youth
Development Study and other studies.
Smith first stressed the connections that can be made and the value
of interdisciplinary research in making such connections. Longitudinal
research is important, she explained, because it yields a diversity
of outcomes. Common risk factors lie behind a range of adolescent
problems such as substance abuse, mental health problems, school
dropout, pregnancy, and poor parenting. If programs address this
constellation of risk factors, they will generate more results for
the investment of resources. Some children experience a multitude
of risks, and problems may be interlinked or co-occur, such as attention
deficit disorder, learning disabilities, school underachievement,
substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. These problems, Smith noted,
should be addressed in a coordinated way early in a child's life,
before the onset of delinquency. Other common factors that can protect
youth are internal resources, family climate, and the social environment.
Resilience has to be evaluated over time and across domains of
functioning. Competency in one area does not mean an individual is
competent in another. For example, high-risk, crime-free people may
not necessarily be competent in the job sphere. Two of the four protective
principles are reduction of risk and interruption of chains of risk
that lead to later problems. Applying these principles, programs
should work to strengthen family resilience and prevent and intervene
with constitutional and developmental difficulties. Much of this
work has to take place in the schools.
The onset of delinquency usually occurs in early adolescence. Other
problems occur during developmental transitions. Resilient teens
have been exposed to risk factors but maneuver without problems.
Critical factors relative to resilience change through the life cycle.
In early childhood, for example, constitutional factors and attachment
to one's caregiver are important, while in adolescence interpersonal
issues and environments are more critical.
Study investigated risk and protective factors. Those with
five or more of nine risk factors were considered at risk and three
times more likely to be delinquent as teenagers. Authors of the
study identified two high-risk groups: one that had not been engaged
in delinquency and one that had. Factors that distinguished the
two groups included educational achievement, connections to teachers,
aspirations to college, conventional values, and parental supervision
and support. Each protective factor alone did not contribute much
to resilience; they only worked in combination with one another.
As the number of protective factors increased, the study found,
so did the level of resilience, indicating the importance of protection
across several areas and the need for broad-based intervention
programs that are specifically targeted. Researchers also need
to investigate more closely what protective resources come into
play in later adolescence.
Other research has identified additional resiliency factors such
as high intelligence, cognitive skill development, even temperament,
sociability, a harmonious relationship with a parent, warm relationships
with an adult, good experiences in school, and prosocial peer groups.
In the substance abuse field, similar findings concerning resilience
have emerged, but in that context there is an emphasis on building
community resiliency. It is better to target the capacity of the
community to change by mobilizing leaders and community-based organizations
to provide services. Implementation of these actions, however, is
Building protective factors in difficult environments is also important.
A caveat to the discussion of resilience is that these principles
sound as if they are distinctive issues, but they are more complicated
than that. They have underlying processes that researchers do not
yet understand. For example, intelligence is usually thought of as
a protective factor, but in African- Americans and Hispanics with
limited opportunities, the two factors can interact and result in
greater substance abuse and antisocial behavior. Therefore, an individual's
opportunity structure is also important. Self-esteem is also thought
to be a protective factor but aggressive youth who have high self-esteem
actually have distorted self-images. Social support is often a protective
factor for adults, but for adolescents peer support can have negative
results. Family support is also complicated. As a protective factor,
it can increase support and partnership, but the findings on this
factor are uneven. If other members of a family are struggling to
remain crime free, they may have a limited positive influence on
adolescents living in the household.
The last life stage considered, late adolescence, provides turning
points, new environments, and opportunities for youth, but there
is not much research on this stage. The protective factors at this
life stage include dating or cohabiting with partners who are not
deviant. Unfortunately, these partners will be limited and difficult
to find. Other protective factors include being able to make the
transition to work and family or other support. Thus, new opportunities
for relating to those with more prosocial norms, changes in skills
and qualifications that open opportunities in work, and changes in
planning capacity can all be protective factors contributing to resiliency.
The challenge is finding institutional opportunities for these. Focusing
on protective factors, however, is a helpful perspective when working
with teenagers and families because it focuses on resources and positive
development, including community resources, and redirects everyone's
energy toward positive outcomes.
Stutman concluded by saying that Nancy Davis, Center
for Mental Health Services (CMHS), has written an excellent
paper entitled "Resilience:
Status of the Research and Research-Based Programs." Stuntman
also provided examples of several programs which have been successful
in promoting resilience for children different ages. Programs for
0- to 3-year-olds focus on emotional and neurological development
and include the Kempe Prevention
Research Center for Family and Child Health, the Infant
Health and Development Program, and Dare to Be You. Programs
for preschool children, ages 4 and 5, include the High
Scope Educational Research Foundation's Perry Preschool Project.
Programs for kindergarten to elementary school students include
Be a Star. Middle and high school programs include Learn
and Serve America; Say It Straight: Youth-Centered Communication
Skills Training; Big Brothers Big
Sisters of America; and Adventure
Education and Outward
Stutman concluded by recommending early intervention, periodic
assessment of resilience, augmenting a child's environment and building
inner strengths, continuing proven programs, encouraging school collaboration,
and targeting different populations with information about resiliency
through the mass media.
The discussion that followed acknowledged that our language and
tools of pathology are finely tuned while our tools for finding and
discussing resiliency are blunt. Smith and Stutman said that the
fields of social work, psychotherapy, and recovery, and the fields'
emphasis on finding and working with client strengths have influenced
their own work in resiliency.
The Council also discussed the importance of early intervention
in the 0-3 age group because many of those children spend a great
deal of time in day care. Stutman mentioned an article on the Zero
to Three Ounce of Prevention Fund which emphasizes the need to focus
on parents and other caregivers.
Reno noted that Senator Stevens, Chair of the Appropriations Committee,
had asked her to work on issues of 0-3, brain development, and parenting.
She asked Stutman and Smith for help in providing a presentation.
They are to provide her with the material so that she can have it
for her discussion with Senator Stevens. Reno said that the research
must be examined in an interdisciplinary way to determine the impact
of ages 0-3 on older adolescents and delinquency. Reno urged everyone
to think of new ways to work together because so much more can be
Top of Page
Issue Update: Lead Poisoning and Delinquency
Robin Delany-Shabazz, Coordinator, Child Abuse and Neglect
Lead poisoning and environmental risks can affect physical, neurobiological,
and cognitive abilities and skills in children. They can also affect
school performance, thus becoming risk factors for delinquency. Since
the last Coordinating Council meeting, the Interagency Working Group
on Lead Poisoning and Delinquency has been working on the issue of
lead poisoning and environmental risks. Given Stutman and Smith's
presentation, it seems evident, Delany-Shabazz said, that we should
begin addressing healthy homes and healthy communities.
The working group is comprised of members from HHS, DOJ, EPA,
and the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), and national organizations. They have prioritized
the actions recommended at the last meeting. First, they will inventory
programs across Federal agencies and nationwide to identify best
practices and programs in lead and environmental hazard work to disseminate
information and use it to inform new initiatives. Second, they will
integrate lead poisoning and environmental hazard risk identification,
prevention, and remediation into existing Federal programs. The group
is looking into the feasibility of a possible interagency project
that would provide training and technical assistance to local communities
to educate them about lead and other environmental hazards and help
them make use of existing delivery systems.
DOJ formed the Environmental Risks to Children Working Group under
Mary Lou Leary to enhance its efforts in reducing environmental risks
in communities in coordination with the Council's working group and
Federal agencies. Five areas of focus have been identified for the
working group: enforcement of the lead disclosure rule; training
for police officers, prosecutors, and environmental units; community
outreach and education; research; and legislation. The working group
has begun to work with Weed and Seed to see that information about
lead hazards is distributed to all Weed and Seed sites. A workshop
will be given at the annual Weed and Seed conference to focus on
Child Health Champion Pilots which seek to empower communities to
protect children from environmental threats. Weed
and Seed is also conducting a survey on environmental risks which
it will use to inform future efforts.
Reno asked if the working group were addressing the concerns expressed
in Dr. Needleman's letter. Delany-Shabazz said that the article referenced
had been distributed to all members of the working group.
Top of Page
New Issue: Juveniles, Capital Punishment,
Larry K. Brendtro, President, Reclaiming Youth International,
Amnesty International released
some months ago a report entitled "Rights for All: Betraying the
Young" on the sentencing of juveniles to capital punishment and life
imprisonment without parole. A group of practitioner members, including
several judges, discussed this issue because they work with it on
the front lines. They felt it was important to bring this emerging
issue to the attention of the Coordinating Council.
Brendtro noted that in 1642, a 15-year-old from Massachusetts was
the first child executed in America. Not many youngsters have been
submitted to that punishment, but it is nonetheless an important
issue, particularly now during the one hundredth anniversary of the
juvenile court. Brendtro noted that violence goes in cycles. For
example, he explained, many youth development initiatives were in
place in the 1920's, but by the Depression the country had the highest
murder rate in the century (except for a blip in the 1990's).
Brendtro stated that he has worked with challenged kids for 35
years and has seen many youth who have committed murder but who are
capable of rehabilitation. The faith-based programs of Straight
Ahead Ministries have succeeded in rehabilitating kids who have
completed sentences, even those for homicide. At any one time, six
youths who have committed homicide are receiving services in Boys
Town and are reclaimable. A few years ago, Brendtro began doing developmental
audits of high-profile kids because there was no protocol for finding
out what had gone wrong with them. Trials can determine guilt but
not what happened. This lack of knowledge, Brendtro explained, feeds
citizens' fear of crime and prevents the justice system from finding
out what happened to each child. Each case has to be assessed individually
to identify the trajectory of failure.
Brendtro noted that many positive things can be done, but the dilemma
is that increasing numbers of young people are tried as adults and
face preexisting or absolute penalties such as the death penalty
or life in prison without parole. These penalties for juveniles have
been eliminated from the legal codes of virtually all other nations
and are contrary to international law. Preexisting adult penalties
were probably never intended for juveniles. In addition, there is
no consensus among Americans that it is acceptable to sentence juveniles
to death or life in prison without parole. Therefore, the practitioners
About 60 young people are now awaiting execution in America. They will
be beyond the age of minority when their various appeals are completed.
The number of young people serving life sentences is more difficult
to document, but this sentence is imposed frequently.
- The sentence of death should not be imposed for a crime committed
when a person was not an adult.
- The sentence of life imprisonment should not be imposed
without periodic reviews or parole for a crime committed
when a person was not an adult.
Reno asked Brendtro to give some instruction on the types of sentences
that would be most appropriate in these cases. She said it would
be helpful to have the practitioner members' views on what sentencing
should be in these cases to figure out the alternatives.
Brendtro likened these types of juvenile crimes to the "glide path" leading
to an airplane crash, saying that a better protocol or process for
assessing these high-profile cases is needed in order to design a
sentencing plan. His organization has a grant from the Kellogg
Foundation to look at that question. Reno said that we need to
understand the ingredients for strengths along the continuum of a
child's life and not focus solely on one area.
Top of Page
Issue Update: Working Group on Child Maltreatment
and Juvenile Delinquency
The Honorable Michael W. McPhail, County and Youth Court
Judge of Forrest County, Mississippi, Practitioner Member
Child maltreatment is at the heart of crime and serious social
problems. The term refers to a range of scenarios that harm the health
and welfare of children under age 18, including abuse, neglect, physical
injury, sexual exploitation, and serious emotional harm. While many
maltreated children go on to lead healthy lives, others suffer immediate
negative consequences and are at high risk of delinquency and low
academic achievement. Established by the Coordinating Council in
February 1998, the working group set as its first goal a preliminary
assessment of the research literature, policy issues, and programs
dealing with child maltreatment and its link to delinquency.
The working group has recently worked to coordinate its activities
with the Deputy Attorney General's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative.
That initiative targets child witnesses to violence by:
The working group has identified areas of collaboration and will seek
to explore the possibility of coordinating the dissemination of information
on programs and legislation. It will also explore the possibility of
recommending experts and speakers to invite to the summit.
- Improving the juvenile system response to child victims and witnesses.
- Proposing a model for Federal and State legislation.
- Developing programs based
on proven initiatives.
by DOJ and
HHS in June
on best practices
In December 1998, the working group reported that it had completed
a preliminary assessment of the resource literature, referent policies
and programs. The discussion is now focused on how to better address
the links between child maltreatment and delinquency. The group is
making plans to convene State legislative forums. The forums are
intended to increase public awareness, identify promising strategies,
and outline how community-based collaborative efforts can work.
The working group is also developing advanced reading material
for the State forums and drafting talking points for local speakers.
In addition, working group members plan to convene a forum for those
foundations which may be interested in initiatives related to child
maltreatment and delinquency. The group is addressing longitudinal
research and resiliency and identifying promising programs (from
the standpoint of early intervention) in five victim target groups
as well. At subsequent meetings, the group will identify intended
audiences for these program materials. The group plans to meet again
in April to develop a timetable for these activities.
Reno asked the working group to look into the possibility of establishing
model courts for children under age 6 who have been maltreated and
abused. These courts, she explained, would give judges the time and
resources to perfect changes in the family or make swift decisions
about terminating parental rights. She also wondered about the best
way to spread the message about what works.
Reno suggested that, along with the model court, police officers
could be trained to work with the community to identify abused children
and work with parents through home visitation and as mentors. Reno
said John Wilson would provide the working group with the names of
any courts moving in that direction.
Top of Page
Issue Update: Missing and Exploited Children's
Ron Laney, Director, Missing and Exploited Children's Program,
Ron Laney provided an update on international parental kidnaping
and Internet crimes against children. When the Federal Agency Task
Force on Missing and Exploited Children was created in 1995, Laney
explained, it began to look at how to better coordinate services
and it has published two or three documents since then. Since 1997,
it has addressed the issue of international parental kidnaping, and
found that there are about 1000 cases per year of incoming and outgoing
kidnapings. The program examined the issue with 16 agencies and found
that no single agency knew how to handle these cases in their entirety.
Some agencies had authority; some had resources. Law enforcement
often did not know how to proceed with these cases.
Since January 1998, the International Kidnaping Subcommittee has
considered the Federal response to international parental kidnaping.
Members of the subcommittee now know that two or three laws, eight
or nine agencies, and the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) are involved.
Attorney General Reno wanted the subcommittee to consider how it
could expand outreach and educational programs, manage cases more
effectively, improve statistical recordkeeping systems, develop ways
to prevent abduction, and ensure that investigation guidelines were
disseminated. Reno also spoke about establishing a senior level policy
group to review with the Office
of Management and Budget the level of resources that could be
devoted to the issue and to review NCMEC's role. In response to these
questions, a report containing recommendations will be submitted
to the policy group in April. After approval, the report will be
sent to the Attorney General, after which it will be submitted to
the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. The report contains current Federal responses to international
kidnaping and civil remedies to recover children and bring abductors
to justice. It also identifies problems with existing laws and practices.
In 1998 Congress earmarked $2.4 million to OJJDP under the Missing
and Exploited Children's Program to deal with Internet crimes against
children. The program awarded 10 State law enforcement agencies money
to prevent and combat Internet crimes against children. This year
Congress appropriated $5 million, $2.4 for the existing sites and
the remainder for eight additional sites. The program has worked
with many other agencies to develop operational and investigative
standards to prevent Internet crimes against children. The program
has also developed a certification course for participating agencies
and has made sure that the regional task force abides by the same
regulations. The program also conducts the law enforcement training
program, "Protecting Children Online."
Survival Guide," which won a Blue Pencil Award, will now be
translated into Spanish, and 10,000 more copies will be distributed.
A total of 48,000 copies of the guide already have been distributed.
A Portable Guide to preventing the computer and sexual exploitation
of children is also being distributed to law enforcement. In addition,
the Missing and Exploited Children's Program is working with the Office
of Victims of Crime to expand the child reunification travel
program to send parents to other countries to retrieve their children.
Top of Page
John Wilson, Acting Vice Chair and Deputy Administrator,
John Wilson concluded the meeting. He mentioned that the Missing
and Exploited Children's Program plan is out for comment in the Federal
Register. The report on international child abductions will be
given to Coordinating Council members as soon as it is available.
Copies of the Davis article and the National
Crime Prevention Council's "Six Safer Cities" are also available.
He thanked the working groups for their solid plans and urged everyone
to continue their interagency efforts to meet the challenge of maintaining
and sustaining these partnerships.
Top of Page
Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention
Monday, March 29, 1999
1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Robert A. Babbage
Senior Managing Partner
Larry K. Brendtro
Reclaiming Youth International
National Crime Prevention Council
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office of National Drug Control Policy
J. Reuben Clark Law School
Brigham Young University, Utah
Highway Safety Specialist
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
The Honorable Adele Grubbs
Juvenile Court of Cobb County, GA
Juvenile Justice Program Specialist
Concentration of Federal Efforts Program
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice
Detention and Deportation Officer
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Office of the Undersecretary
U.S. Department of Treasury
Director of Federal Partnerships
National Endowment for the Arts
Associate Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
County and Youth Courts Judge
County and Youth Courts of Forrest County, MS
Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
U.S. Department of Education
Mississippi Police Corps
Gladys G. Vaughn
National Program Leader, Human Sciences
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice
Top of Page
Back to Meeting Archives