The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is part of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. It represents a major commitment by the U.S. government to address crime issues affecting children and teenagers. The office’s mission statement on its Web site states that it does the following:
Provides national leadership, coordination, and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization. OJJDP supports states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement effective and coordinated prevention and intervention programs and to improve the juvenile justice system so that it protects public safety, holds offenders accountable, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to the needs of juveniles and their families.
The office is roughly divided into policy and program sections, with subsections focused on public policy, child protection, demonstration projects, and assistance to state governments. OJJDP’s many initiatives in child protection focus on child abuse and neglect, Internet crimes against children, missing children, and the safety and well-being of children. For example, within the area of missing children OJJDP supports a variety of service and research programs including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and other community-oriented organizations helping families with missing children.
OJJDP supports major initiatives focused on both offenders and victims of crime. For example, in the area of offenders, OJJDP supports a comprehensive national antigang initiative that includes a focus on prevention, law enforcement, and prisoner reentry. It also supports the National Youth Gang Center that provides technical assistance to communities receiving funding under OJJDP’s Gang-Free Schools and Communities Program and the Gang Reduction Program. Its work in the area of victims of crime has led to the establishment of the national Safe-Start Initiative and demonstrations of this concept in many communities around the United States. Safe-Start focuses on children exposed to many forms of violence in their communities and develops community-based partnerships to help reduce the impact of family and community violence on children and their families. It is modeled after an original Child Development Community Policing project that brought New Haven, Connecticut, police together in teams with child development specialists from Yale University’s Child Study Center to respond to child needs when police were called to violent crime scenes.
OJJDP’s other initiatives fall into many categories, including courts, schools, corrections, delinquency prevention, health, law enforcement, disparities, statistical data, and support to state agencies.
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