Addressing Bias in Delinquency and Child Welfare Systems

Developmental research shows that behaviors and characteristics common in adolescence are consistent across all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups. These studies, controlling for race and ethnicity, found no significant difference in key features of adolescent development, such as impulsivity, sensation seeking, susceptibility to peer influence, and a limited ability to plan ahead or anticipate consequences. The disproportionate representation of youth of color in juvenile court, therefore, cannot and should not be attributed to differences in adolescent development or differences in behavior across racial and ethnic groups.

Similarly, rates of child abuse and neglect are not higher in families of color; however, these families are disproportionately petitioned and brought into the court system and face greater likelihood of removal of their children than white families.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Bench Card, Gault Center Publications, Resource Library
Tags: Collaboration, Racial Justice, Youth Defense Systems