On June 1, 2018 Dr. Rebecca Fix, assistant scientist at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was invited to attend a workshop led by staff from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) including Caren Harp, JD, administrator and TeNeane Bradford, PhD, associate administrator of the core protections division. OJJDP’s mission is to provide national leadership, coordination and resources to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency and victimization.

The workshop was held onsite at OJJDP in Washington, D.C. It was led by Ms. Harp, and several key staff from OJJDP attended, as did juvenile justice stakeholders from several U.S. states. The purpose of the workshop was to gather professionals to focus on the core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act. The Act was originally established in 1974 and is based on a broad consensus that children, youth and families involved with the juvenile and criminal courts should be guarded by federal standards for care and custody, while also upholding the interests of community safety and the prevention of victimization.

OJJDP is particularly interested in addressing the fourth requirement of the JJDP Act, which focuses on reducing the disproportionate number of juvenile members of racial/ethnic minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.

“The group was asked to generate ideas about what OJJDP can do to assist states in complying with requirements associated with the JJDP Act. I was invited because Dr. Bradford read a blog post I wrote for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, and they felt I gave the topic a ‘fresh perspective’ that they hoped to integrate into their work on the JJDP Act,” says Dr. Fix.

In her post, Dr. Fix argues for ways to reduce racial/ethnic minority contact that include interventions at the national, state and community level.

“I was primarily invited to bring the research perspective to the group and to serve as new eyes on the problem,” says Dr. Fix.

The group aims to get together regularly to further this work and assist states in meeting the core requirements of the JJDP Act, particularly the requirement to reduce disproportionate minority contact. The outcomes of the conference were recently released publicly, and the group hopes to make positive changes that would affect all U.S. states and territories.