Youth Justice

Youth Justice2021-04-06T12:24:14-05:00

Dismantle Ohio’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline®

CDF-Ohio works to build awareness and focus on the root causes of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis.

We champion effective prevention and intervention programs that help young people at every point of their development to supporting youths’ transition to successful adulthood.

The intersection of poverty and race puts a Black boy born in 2001 at a one in three lifetime risk of going to prison, and a Latino boy a one in six lifetime risk of the same fate. By rigorously examining data and policy, we identify points in a child’s development where they are at-risk. This means pin-pointing points on their educational journey where they require more support and where schools and other partners can make meaningful changes to support them. Through our work as a member of the national KIDS COUNT network, we have opportunities to look at data longitudinally that represent negative trends that must be addressed, such as chronic absenteeism, school discipline rates, and juvenile justice referrals. Further, data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, and disability represent areas of focus to identify disparate treatment leading to disparate outcomes.

Examine Ohio Schools’ Data to Improve Practices and Programs

Beginning in 2018, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio began examining chronic absenteeism as a critical data element. Many times, this particular data point is an indicator another factor that must be addressed including bullying, barriers to attending school regularly stemming from poverty, and behavioral health issues within the family or the child. These are circumstances that require more supportive school policies rather than disciplinary action for the child and legal action against the parents or caregivers.

School discipline data is oftentimes unveils disparate actions against children. In Ohio children of color and primarily Black girls are subjected to harsher disciplinary action than their White peers. This represents an area of education policy that must be continuously re-examined and challenged.

CDF-Ohio has been a leader in the State of Ohio in calling for changes to policies and practices in our schools and other institutions that push children in to the juvenile justice system.

CDF-Ohio believes that children must stay in school and must receive the support, services, and resources they need in school to achieve, both academically and socially.

End Harsh School Discipline

Our issue brief on the impact of school discipline policies on the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® in November 2012 showed, for the first time in Ohio, how the overuse of out-of-school suspension and expulsion is directly linked to children entering our juvenile justice system as a direct result of their treatment in our state’s schools. As a result, Ohio educators and policymakers are now starting to take notice and demand an end to the school to prison pipeline. CDF-Ohio continues to work tirelessly to ensure that Ohio children stay in school, and are treated with dignity and fairness in school, so that theirs will be paths to success, not prison.

Ensure that School Resource Officers Serve a Positive Role in Schools

National research shows that children in schools that are served by School Resource Officers (SROs, or police officers in schools) are more likely to be arrested in school for engaging in minor misbehavior. CDF-Ohio issued a strong call in our 2013 issue brief for Ohio schools to examine the practices of their SROs and to adopt guidelines that ensure that SROs serve a positive role in their school communities. As a result of this work, CDF-Ohio has been invited by the Ohio School Resource Officers Association to present at its annual trainings for SROs in 2014 and 2015.

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