staff supervision, as well as youth treatment plans. Staff members should be held accountable when not providing culturally sensitive services. Rating scales are available or can be developed by treatment agencies so supervisors can rate their staff (or staff can rate themselves) on the degree their treatment with minority youth reflects cultural competence.

In addition, treatment providers should also receive specific training related to working with juvenile offenders (including minority juvenile offenders) with mental health issues. These youth often present complex issues (e.g., co-occurring disorders) and diverse family environments. In addition, psychiatric disorders often manifest themselves differently in this population of youth and under diagnosis/ mis-diagnosis is common. Specific strategies regarding how to engage these youth in treatment and retain them should also be discussed.

Initially, staff training can be costly, particularly when one is training all staff on an on-going basis. However, training staff on providing culturally competent treatment to minority youth/juvenile offenders and their families will actually save money in the end.

  Treatment agencies spend unnecessary dollars when youth prematurely terminate treatment, are re-referred, and have to go through another intake process and assignment to a new counselor. Mentally ill minority offenders are often seen by several different agencies and several different counselors throughout their childhood and adolescent years, with a great deal of service duplication. Retaining a youth at one agency, with one counselor is cost effective, as well as clinically effective as the youth receives continuity of care versus fragmented services.

By training probation officers and court personnel on issues related to mentally ill juvenile offenders, their referrals to mental health agencies will likely lead to more appropriate referrals, resulting in more youth receiving services matched to their treatment needs. In addition, a mentally ill minority youth is better able to integrate rehabilitative interventions provided by correctional facilities once their mental health symptoms are under control. In fact, some youth are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior when their mental health symptoms have stabilized, resulting in

  fewer youth being incarcerated. Therefore, saving money for the juvenile justice system as well.

False Images?  Minority Youth in the Media

The final plenary session of the conference was a panel presentation which examined the media’s portrayal of juvenile crime in general, and minority youth in particular. This lively and interactive panel discussion described the potentially damaging effects of the media’s misrepresentation of the scope of crime committed by minority youth. Panelists representing television, radio and print media explained the process by which the media select stories to cover and how news items are prioritized and presented. The panel of presenters included Frank Camacho, Channel 3 News; Arthur Mobley, KMJK 107FM; David Doi, Coalition for Juvenile Justice; Richard De Uriarte, The Arizona Republic; Jeff Scott, Channel 10 FOX News; and Linda Williams, FOX 10 News Anchor.

The media’s portrayal of crime often focuses on the most serious and violent offenses committed by

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Home 2002 Arizona Supreme Court.  All Rights Reserved. Updated: 11/09/09