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Incarcerated children often have mental health problems

Some have claimed that no country in the developed world puts children behind bars more often than the United States. This indicates that the justice system, though it has other options for young offenders, still often prefers to use jail time as a means of correcting behavior.

However, studies have shown that many of these kids area dealing with mental health issues that they cannot always control on their own. According to some sources, as many as 70 percent of the young offenders who have been jailed have these issues.

One expert said that the idea behind incarceration is that kids who are arrested and locked up won't go back to the same behaviors when they get out. They'll understand that the behavior was wrong and they'll know what the ramifications are, so they'll be scared into acting properly because they don't want to go back to jail.

However, this expert noted that mental health issues really don't make this approach make sense. She compared the practice to locking up children with epilepsy so that they could "learn" not to have any seizures in the future.

The implication here is clear: For kids with mental health issues, jail time may not be the best solution because it does not actually treat the issue. Just as the person with epilepsy wouldn't get better from being incarcerated, other mental issues would not go away as well, so kids may return to the same actions after being released.

As you can see, since mental problems are so common with young offenders, it's crucial for young people to know what other legal options exist in Kansas.

Source: Fusion, "Video: 70 percent of children behind bars in America have mental health issues," accessed May 13, 2016

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