Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy
Elliot Hernandez '12
"I’m always striving to better myself, I want to help other people be the best that they can be too."
- Help provide opportunity and success to young people
- Excellent alternative to criminal justice
- Interesting and contemporary curriculum with a unique focus on youth
- Prepare for diverse job opportunities in direct service, administration, or policy in non-profits or government
- Focuses specifically on youth, unlike broader criminal justice programs
- Emphasizes social justice and positive development
- Close relationships with faculty who have extensive experience as practitioners
- College-wide mission to improve the lives of children and families
Each year, millions of youth come in contact with the US legal system and hundreds of thousands are placed in locked settings. While our juvenile justice system succeeds in administering punishment, it too often fails in its responsibility to rehabilitate.
At the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy (JJYA) program, we believe there is a better way. We strive to imagine and create more-effective prevention and response strategies for youth at risk. Here, you will learn how to work with and advocate for young people and their families—inside and outside of the juvenile justice system—while also improving the safety of our communities.
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.
- See a full Course List for the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy major.
- See a full Course List for the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy/Social Work dual degree program.
- Meet the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy faculty members.
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.
Opportunities for Experiential Learning
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:
- Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (antipoverty agency)
- Boston City Hall
- Boston Superior Court Probation Department
- Children's Law Center
- Community Transition School (public school for court-involved youth)
- EdLaw Project (educational advocacy program)
- Germaine Lawrence, Inc. (adolescent treatment facility for girls)
- A New Leaf (girls' group home)
- Rhode Island Juvenile Drug Court
- 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
In addition to a professional major in Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy, you'll choose an Arts and Sciences major (American Studies, the Arts, Communications & Media Literacy, Human Development, the Humanities, or Math/ Science). You may also double-major in Social Work.
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. Meet the JJYA Faculty.
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.