The Connection between Juvenile Justice and Disabilities

The rates of emotional, behavioral, learning, and developmental disabilities are much higher in juvenile offenders than their incidence in the rest of the population, claims a recent Pacers Center article. Pacers is an organization dedicated to the needs of children with disabilities.

According to the site, between 60 to 75 percent of the youth in the juvenile justice system are estimated to have one or more diagnosable disabilities. These can include emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The most common diagnoses include attention deficit hyperactive disorder, learning disabilities, depression, developmental disabilities, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

Most youth with disabilities will not become involved in delinquent or criminal behavior. The risk factors for delinquency and criminal behavior are complex and interconnected, and can include lack of attachment to school, chronic school failure, criminal behavior in the family, family history of mental illness, drug use, experiencing violence or trauma or other issues.

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