Youth involved with the justice system are likely to have unmet medical, mental health and social needs, are more likely to be youth of color and are more likely to have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). This was outlined in the recently published policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), authored by UC Davis pediatrician Mikah Owen and University of Alabama at Birmingham adolescent medicine physician Stephenie Wallace.
Nearly 810,700 youth under the age of 18 were arrested in the United States in 2017. Pediatricians and other health care professionals play a critical role in promoting the health and well-being of these justice-involved youth. The AAP statement offers background of the juvenile justice system, discusses racial and ethnic bias within the juvenile justice system, reviews common medical and social issues facing justice-involved youth and identifies opportunities for pediatricians to engage in juvenile justice reform efforts.
The statement addresses the deep inequities that impact these children and teens and makes recommendations for transforming the juvenile justice system so that it meets the unique needs of children and adolescents.
The policy statement revises the 2011 policy “Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.”