Steve Liss


The juvenile justice system was founded nearly a century ago on what was then a revolutionary principle: Children are different from adults, and the justice system that deals with them should reflect these differences. The new system offered a means of providing individualized treatment and services to children in trouble. Beyond that, it raised the possibility of a society that would care for its children, give hope and support to families, and provide enlightened social control for its citizenry.

Today the juvenile justice system is under escalating attack. Critics on one side say the system is not tough enough on juvenile offenders; those on the other say it fails to consider children’s individual needs and doesn’t live up to its promise to rehabilitate. Rather than examining how to reform the juvenile justice system and coordinate its goals, the trend is to limit or dismantle it and, increasingly, to treat young offenders as adults. 

As social scientists, legal experts, public officials, and the public at large debate the future of the juvenile justice system, it is essential that their discussions be fully and accurately informed, based on a sound understanding of child and adolescent development. That is the motivation behind the Foundation’s Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. The Network seeks to expand the base of knowledge about the origins, development, prevention, and treatment of juvenile crime and delinquency; to disseminate that knowledge to professionals and the public; to improve decision making in the current system; and to prepare the 

Juvenile Justice, Justice, Research, United States, Youth