Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS CHILDHOOD TRAUMA?

The experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects. The most common causes of childhood trauma include:

  • Accidents
  • Bullying/cyberbullying
  • Chaos or dysfunction in the house (such as domestic violence, parent with a mental illness, substance abuse or incarcerated)
  • Death of a loved one
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Separation from a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stress caused by poverty
  • Sudden and/or serious medical condition
  • Violence (at home, at school, or in the surrounding community)
  • War/terrorism

What is the school to prision pipeline?

A national trend where children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice system.

What is broken windows policing?

James Wilson and George Kelling are academics who saw serious crime as the final result of a long chain of events. In 1982, they theorized that crime emanated from disorder and that if these disorders were eliminated, then serious crimes would not occur. Two types of disorders were identified: physical disorder (abandoned vehicles, vacant properties, broken windows, trash, etc.) and social disorder (panhandlers, loitering, etc.).

What are collateral consequences?

The negative results of a juvenile adjudication that compounds a punishment directly imposed by the court. Juvenile records and system involvement, for example, may limit a youth’s opportunities to obtain education, health care, housing, and employment.

What is a school resource officer?

A law enforcement officer, with sworn authority, who is deployed by an employing police department or agency in a community-oriented policing assignment to work in collaboration with one or more schools.

What types of offenses are eligible for diversion?

Low-level, summary or misdemeanor offenses are eligible for diversion. This encompasses a broad range of behaviors, but most divertible offenses fall into the following three categories:

 

  1. Weapons possession (43%)
    1. Knives (62%)
    2. BB guns (8%)
    3. Box cutters (7%)
    4. Pepper spray (6%)
    5. Razors (6%)
    6. Taser/stun guns (4%)
  2. Drug possession (37%)
    1. Marijuana (90%)
    2. Other drugs (10%)
  3. Disorderly conduct (13%)

 

High-level offenses such as handgun possession, arson, and sexual assault are not eligible for diversion.

What does adjudicated delinquent mean?

A judge enters a disposition specifying what treatment, services, and consequences serve the best interests of the youth and the community.

What are delinquency adjudications?

A hearing in juvenile court to determine if a youth committed the delinquent act of which s/he is accused, and if so, what consequences should be imposed. Delinquency proceedings are adversarial and similar in many ways to criminal proceedings. During the first stage, the adjudication hearing, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a delinquent act occurred and that the accused youth committed the act. The juvenile has several procedural rights, including the right to an attorney, the right to present evidence, and the right to cross-examine witnesses.

If a student is diverted will the student have a juvenile record?

No. If a student enters the Police School Diversion Program, he or she will not be charged with an offense.

Will charges be brought against a student if he or she declines participation in the Police School Diversion Program?

No, charges will not be brought against students who decline to participate. Participation in the program is strongly encouraged, however, given that students will be connected to social services that may help them cope with other challenges in their lives.

How frequently and for how long do students receive services through the Police School Diversion Program?

Youth who participate in the Police School Diversion Program are expected to participate in their recommended services for at least six hours a week for three months. Participation may last up to a year based on the age and specific needs of the student. Participation is always contingent on the consent of the student and his or her legal guardian.

If a student is already receiving services through an Intensive Prevention Services (IPS), is the student eligible for diversion?

Yes, students are eligible for diversion regardless of the services they are already receiving. If a student and his or her family agree to enter the Police School Diversion Program, a Department of Human Services social worker will work with the family and the IPS provider to determine whether any changes should be made regarding the services the student is already receiving. Furthermore, the social worker, IPS provider, and family will work together to determine whether additional services would be helpful.

What happens when a youth has completed his or her participation in the Police School Diversion Program?

The Police School Diversion program strives to connect its youth to ongoing support services upon completion of the program. Intensive Prevention Services providers can extend health or behavioral health services for youth who require additional support by making a “community referral” for services. Additionally, youth are referred to community-based opportunities for mentoring, sports participation, and other enrichment activities through the following programs:

 

  1. The Police Athletic League: https://phillypal.org/
  2. The Department of Human Services’ Boys Track and Girls Track Mentoring Programs

 

The Police School Diversion Program is in the process of expanding its network of referral programs available to youth who have completed the program.

Does the Police School Diversion Program provide transportation for students to and from Intensive Prevention Services (IPS) sites?

The Police School Diversion Program does not arrange transportation for youth, but many IPS providers do. Depending on the age of the child, IPS providers may offer busing services or provide tokens for public transportation.

Frequently asked questions related to school discipline practices can be found on the School Justice Partnership website, located here.