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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Mon, Sep 26th, 2011
Posted in State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL - Differences between Minnesota youth in correctional facilities and mainstream schools are detailed in Youth in Minnesota Correctional Facilities, a report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Among the findings are correctional facility students have an earlier onset of drug/alcohol use, are more likely to be a victim of sexual or domestic abuse, as well as having ongoing mental/emotional issues.

The study also addresses relations to parents and caregivers, as well as students' feelings of safety in their schools and neighborhoods. In response to the findings, OJP offers best practices to those serving youth, including professionals in health, public health, human services, education and juvenile justice.

The report analyses responses to the Minnesota School Survey (MSS), a 127-item questionnaire administered every three years to sixth-, ninth- and 12th-graders in Minnesota public schools examining attitudes, behaviors and health indicators. In 2010, about 131,000 students completed the MSS, including those in 24 residential juvenile correctional facilities in Minnesota.

Youth in correctional facilities are demographically different than youth in mainstream schools and are more likely to be male, come from communities of color and live in single-parent households. Other findings include:

· Youth in correction facilities are two- to three-times more likely than mainstream youth to report their families struggle with alcohol and drug use, or that they have witnessed domestic violence in their household. However, there is no difference between youth in correctional facilities and mainstream youth in how much they feel their parents and other adult relatives care for them.

· Youth in correctional facilities are more than twice as likely to report they have been the victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and are three-times more likely to report an ongoing mental or emotional health problem.

· Minnesota's youth, including those in correctional facilities, report feeling safe at school; like going to school; and feel safe in their neighborhoods. Over half of both student populations wish to attend at least college, if not beyond.

· Alcohol and marijuana are the most commonly used drugs in both student populations. Youth in correctional facilities, however, are more likely to have used drugs or alcohol than mainstream youth. Roughly 60 percent of youth in correctional facilities began using alcohol or marijuana when they were age 13 or younger.

· Youth in correctional facilities are more than twice as likely to report they have been a victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Youth in correctional facilities are also more than three-times likely to report an ongoing mental or emotional health problem.

"Agencies serving youth and their families will deliver the most effective intervention through collaboration," says Danette Buskovick, OJP director of Training, Research and Communications. "Agencies should implement recommended best practices to support correctional facilities' youth with an understanding that they have different issues and needs than general population youth."

To help ensure differences in responses cannot be attributed to race, the racial composition of the mainstream sample group and those in correctional facilities is the same.

Additional reports exploring response of girls in correctional facilities and those who report experiencing personal victimization or trauma are due to be released this fall.

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