Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy
Why Juvenile Justice?
- Help provide opportunity and pathways to success to young people
- Interesting and contemporary curriculum with a unique focus on positive youth development
- Prepare for diverse job opportunities in direct service, case management, youth work, administration, legal advocacy, or juvenile policy in nonprofits or government
- Wheelock focuses specifically on youth, unlike broader criminal justice programs
- Emphasizes social justice and positive youth development
- Close relationships with faculty who have extensive experience as practitioners
- College-wide mission to improve the lives of children and families
Millions of youth come in contact with the U.S. legal system each year, and hundreds of thousands will be placed in locked settings. The juvenile justice system has a mandate that stresses both rehabilitation and punishment. Unfortunately, our system often relies on punishment and fails to rehabilitate. In our program, we strive to imagine and create more effective prevention and response strategies for youth at risk. Our dual goal is to support youth and families, and ensure the safety of our communities.
You will learn about the juvenile justice system and how to work with youth and families inside and outside of the legal system. Your preparation will be firmly grounded in an understanding of adolescent development.
Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Program Options
In addition to a major and minor in Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy (JJYA), you can double major with one of our Arts and Sciences majors. You may also double-major in Social Work.
As a JJYA student, you will develop strong writing, speaking and problem-solving skills. In addition, you will become a leader who understands the value of true community collaboration and is well-equipped to work with and on behalf of youth in a wide range of settings.
A Specific Focus on Youth
Unlike most criminal justice programs, JJYA focuses exclusively on teens and their families. You will explore the challenges facing young people from multiple perspectives, analyzing both individuals and broader societal trends.
A Belief in Positive Development
Another difference between JJYA and traditional criminal justice programs is our emphasis on positive youth development. Our curriculum touches on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation strategies, and other subjects related to social justice. Also, the importance of social supports—i.e. helping at-risk youth foster the skills and capacities to stay on the right path and succeed in adulthood—is a much higher priority.
JJYA students leave the program with not only a diploma and certificate, but also a solid resume, clear career goals and pathways to job opportunities in the juvenile justice system. You will gain a sharper understanding of the conditions and circumstances that place youth at risk through a service-learning, community-based senior capstone project; a 200-hour, supervised practicum; and other hands-on experiences. Recent internship sites include:
- Boston Police Department School Resource Officer Unit
- Boston Superior Court Probation Department
- Children's Law Center
- Community Transition School (public school for court-involved youth)
- Committee of Public Counsel Youth Advocacy Department
- EdLaw Project (educational advocacy program)
- Phoenix Charter Academy
- Rhode Island Juvenile Drug Court
- Sociedad Latina (youth leadership and afterschool programs)
- Suffolk County District Attorney's Office Victim/Witness Advocate's Office
- Youth Advocacy Project (public defender program)
- Causes and Prevention of Delinquency
- Integrative Seminar in Juvenile Justice
- Introduction to Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
- Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Law
- Juvenile Intervention and Advocacy
JJYA classes are small, allowing you to build close relationships with faculty. Our professors have extensive experience as practitioners in areas including psychology, forensics, corrections, youth work, advocacy and law.
Preparing for the Future
Program graduates work in fields such as law, policy, politics, education and corrections. JJYA also serves as excellent preparation for areas of graduate study including criminal justice/criminology, education, law, psychology, public policy, research, social work, and sociology.
Skills You'll Learn
- Advocacy and networking
- Community and family engagement
- Conflict resolution/facilitation
- Youth work
- Legal knowledge
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Program development and implementation
- Relationship building