Diversion, Positive Youth Development, Restorative Practices: Connecting the Dots

By Angela Bell and Leslie Jones, JJIE | May 20, 2019

Stoneleigh Fellow Kevin Bethel’s work with the Philadelphia Police Diversion Program is cited by JJIE in an article about programs that provide meaningful support to youth in contact with the justice system.

“Effective, evidence-based practices that support the wellness and resiliency of youth in school and in the community are emerging.” —Models for Change (2010)

Adolescence — the unique journey between childhood and adulthood — can either be a safe place for positive youth development or a “bridge over troubled waters” as young people form their identities. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) acknowledges that “experimentation and risk-taking behaviors, sensitivity to peers and other social influences” are foreseeable results of this critical life stage. For most of us, our offending behaviors ceased as we matured into adults (with the help of pro-social supports)…

Additionally, law enforcement can play a significant role in reducing juvenile arrests. A program initiated by former Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel realized a 71% decrease in the first year of implementing “a discipline philosophy that rewards positive behaviors, considers the impact of trauma on students, and rethinks the single-minded reliance on punishment.” According to this study, “there exists an injurious relationship between early childhood trauma and subsequent chronic antisocial behavior above and beyond the influence of major risk factors for crime (gender, race, age of onset, impulsivity, peer influence, and socio-economic status).”

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