It really does matter — to everyone — whether the young people of today become tomorrow’s criminals or contributors, burdening the community or benefiting it.
In many cases, that will depend on how a child who exhibits behavioral issues is treated — in a way that nurtures and rehabilitates, or one that lands him or her in an environment that only hardens the character traits that put the juvenile in the justice system in the first place.
The choice would seem obvious, at least philosophically. But actually changing the status quo can be a daunting challenge.
A Virginia organization called Rise for Youth is working to draw attention to how the state’s juvenile justice system works, and how it could work better both for the young offenders involved and the community as a whole. Its goals include encouraging community-based alternatives to automatically involving the state juvenile justice system, and redirecting taxpayer money spent on juvenile detention facilities to fund programs that keep youth either at home or close to home in smaller facilities.