Omaha – A separate juvenile justice system was created in 1899 with the idea that youth are different from adults. Even though the criminal justice system intentionally separates juveniles from the formal adult process, relatively few criminology and criminal justice programs offer a focus in juvenile justice in parallel to adult courts, theory, and procedure. The Juvenile Justice Institute, a research institute within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, provides educational and research opportunities for students pursuing interests in juvenile justice.
Individuals who end up in the juvenile justice field have sometimes have very limited coursework prior to their first day on the job. They have even less real life experience working with young people. Sometimes, they think they will enjoy working with teens, until there are assigned their first 17 year old probationer!
A primary aim of the Juvenile Justice Institute is to ensure that students have adequate exposure to juvenile justice-based curriculum by providing courses in juvenile law, juvenile delinquency, and a seminar in juvenile justice. In addition to traditional coursework, faculty at the Juvenile Justice Institute offer an experiential or service learning course in juvenile reentry. This course, which matches students with youth returning from long-term confinement, gives students the opportunity to engage in concrete situations and apply what they have learned in the classroom.
This hasn’t just been a class for me. It has shown how this career path looks, and it’s something that I want to pursue.”
In addition, there are research opportunities at the Juvenile Justice Institute for both undergraduate and graduate students with interests in juvenile justice. Past students have assisted with all stages of the research process including research design, data collection, data cleaningand analysis, and writing results in technical reports and academic journals.
The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice also offers a Graduate Certificate in Managing Adult and Juvenile Populations, which includes both courses in social work and criminal justice that can be taken online or in-person.
The goal is to professionalize the juvenile justice work force--and prepare young people for a chosen career in juvenile justice. A recent student commented, “This hasn’t just been a class for me. It has shown how this career path looks, and it’s something that I want to pursue.”
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