We are at a moment in time when we are collectively rethinking how society treats children. A big piece of this work is harm reduction—stemming the tide of the huge numbers of youth that have been flowing into our justice systems, and the significant overrepresentation of youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ/gender nonconforming youth.


Equally important is reorienting society's approach to view issues of youth behavior and welfare through a public health lens instead of a punitive lens—looking at how can we unlock the potential of our youth rather than focusing on locking them up. When society supports youth and provides them with resources needed for positive youth development, such as good health care, housing, education, healthy food, and nurturing relationships, we are setting them on a path for success. However, when policing is heavily concentrated in marginalized communities, leading to frequent stop andfrisks of young people, then we are sending them down a different path—one in which future contacts with police and arrests are more likely.

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