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Health Care for Youth Behind Bars

Youth in the juvenile correctional system are at risk for many health issues, especially those who have had inconsistent or deficient care.

According to an updated policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System,” appearing in the December 2011 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 28), incarcerated youth are entitled to the same standards of medical and mental health care as their peers in the community, and clinicians caring for incarcerated youth should have training and/or expertise in pediatrics or adolescent medicine.

Youth in the juvenile justice system should receive a comprehensive history and physical exam, dental screening and mental health screening for psychiatric illness, substance abuse and neurological and developmental disorders. Because of high rates of unprotected sexual activity, HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing should be offered, and all pubertal girls should be screened for pregnancy.

Incarcerated youth have higher rates of substance abuse and mental health disorders so the AAP recommends advocating for interventional programs that will be linked to continued care for these individuals once they reenter the community.

11/28/2011 12:00 AM
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