No person lives in isolation. From conception forward, we all interact with and are influenced by various societal systems (our family groups, friend groups, communities, school systems, healthcare systems, local, state, and federal governance, etc.).
The effect these systems have on our lives is often cyclical. For instance, socioeconomic disadvantages and behavioral health decisions can lead to justice system involvement and justice system involvement can incite further socioeconomic disadvantage and behavioral health concerns.
It is vital to understand that for every youth assigned to your caseload, their previous interactions with these systems have informed the way they react to situations they face. By the nature of their role, juvenile justice system stakeholders see the outcomes of societal systems that need to improve. Along with the help of other dedicated professionals working to educate, provide health care, support families, and create positive policies, your work can help youth make changes that can help them break a cycle and improve their own lives and make a wider impact on their communities. By using practices rooted in our four pillars, you can give youth the foundation and tools that enable them to handle the circumstances in their environment and community that will lead to a successful life outside of the justice system. You alone cannot solve these problems and break these cycles, but you do play a role. The image from the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Mental Health shown below offers a visualization of the cycle.
A Vision for juvenile probation
The mission of juvenile probation is to foster youth’s personal growth, positive behavior change, and long-term success.
In order to promote positive behavior change in youth that are placed on probation, probation professionals must use approaches that are adolescent developmentally informed, strength based, trauma responsive, and collaborative with system stakeholders, families, and communities.