Approaching Juvenile Justice with a Focus on Positive Youth Development

June 23, 2010

An increasing number of practitioners and advocates in the juvenile justice field are adopting a positive youth development (PYD) perspective and other strengths-based strategies that focus on youths’ assets rather than their weaknesses or problems. PYD can be described as a youth’s development of “a sense of competency, usefulness, belonging, and influence.” It has become clear that for the vast majority of youth, the traditional deficit-based, medical model that has commonly been used in the juvenile justice system is misguided and that the use of strengths-based programming, such as PYD, is a more appropriate and effective means of working with young offenders and their families and successfully engaging youth in their communities.