evaluations, include multiple components for parents, youngsters, and the environment (school or community) and target multiple behaviors. These types of programs appear to be more beneficial than narrowly focused programs. Several widely used and well-evaluated intervention strategies have been found to increase delinquency (see Chapters 4 and 5). Many such programs rest on drawing young misbehaving adolescents together, a practice that seems to reinforce their antisocial behaviors.
A juvenile justice system separate from the adult justice system was established in the United States about 100 years ago with the goal of diverting youthful offenders from the destructive punishments of criminal courts and encouraging rehabilitation based on the individual juvenile's needs. In practice, there was always a tension between social welfare and social control—that is, focusing on the best interests of the individual child versus focusing on punishment, incapacitation, and protecting society from certain offenses. This tension has shifted over time and has varied significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it remains today.
It is important to remember that the United States has at least 51 different juvenile justice systems, not one. Given the local nature of juvenile justice in the United States, there has never been a single dominant vision of how to deal with delinquent children in law or in practice. The trend during the past decade, however, has been toward stiffening the laws dealing with juveniles. Every state made changes in its laws and policies governing juvenile justice during the 1990s. These changes include easier waivers to adult court, excluding certain offenses from juvenile court jurisdiction, blended juvenile and adult sentences, increased authority for prosecutors to decide to file cases in adult court, and more frequent custodial placement of adjudicated delinquents. The great majority of recent changes in juvenile justice law and practice have not been evaluated. Research to date shows that juveniles placed in secure detention or incarceration suffer a wide range of negative effects and those transferred to adult court may be more likely to reoffend than those who remain under juvenile court jurisdiction (see Chapter 5).
Increasing numbers of young people are placed in secure detention, which disrupts young people's lives and has negative effects on behavior and future developmental trajectories. Incarcerated juveniles have higher rates of physical injury and mental health problems, and they have poorer educational outcomes, than do their counterparts who are treated in the community. Incarceration also causes severe and long-term problems with future employment, leaving ex-offenders with few economic alternatives to crime. Recent research also demonstrates that many serious as well as