About 40 percent to 50 percent of all youth in juvenile detention facilities have a mental disorder other than a conduct disorder, yet many receive no treatment and those who do usually receive only minimal care, according to Brian Wilcox, PhD, of the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, who spoke at a May 8 congressional briefing.
The briefing, coordinated by APA's Public Policy Office, was conducted by the Consortium on Children, Families and the Law, a network of 15 coordinating and affiliating centers including APA that facilitates collaborative research, education and consultation on critical issues in child and family policy. Sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott (DVa.), the briefing examined services for youth with disabilities and mental health concerns in the juvenile justice system.
In the presentation, Wilcox and Clifford O'Donnell, PhD, of the Community and Culture Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, examined the issues raised by the lack of adequate mental health screening or assessment and spoke to the need for better treatment for youth in juvenile facilities. According to O'Donnell, "although effective strategies and programs do not appear to have been implemented for children with disabilities in the juvenile justice system, many of the elements of a successful strategy are known and could increase system responsiveness, juvenile accountability, program effectiveness and decrease the cost of juvenile corrections."