Health Impacts of “the System” 2018-05-21T18:47:20+00:00

 

Health Impacts of “the System” 

More than half of health is determined by where people live, learn, work, play, and age — what we in public health call the social determinants of health.2 These determinants are shaped by environmental, economic, and social policies, which can either help build healthier communities or harm them.3

Being arrested as an adolescent can impact a person’s health in profound ways. Policies and practices that expand punishment for kids, as well as directly file kids into the adult system, often do not deter youth from crime, but can in fact increase crime rates. “Net-widening” is an example of policies that often unintentionally bring more youth unnecessarily into the system.  These policies disproportionately impact entire groups — particularly youth living in low-income communities and Black and Latino boys and girls.

By using a health and equity lens in our research, we can uncover systemic factors that lead kids who are low-income and often of color to become involved in the juvenile system. We can also uncover the long-term impacts of youth arrest on life trajectories, including the ability to advance one’s education, get a job, and avoid further penetration into the system.

While youth arrest and involvement in the juvenile justice system affects the social determinants of education, income, employment, and health, these are also risk factors for involvement in the juvenile system. Poverty, racism, and grossly limited educational opportunities have well-studied connections to poor health, and also contribute to juvenile system involvement.

By using a health and equity lens in our research, we can uncover systemic factors that lead kids who are low-income and often of color to become involved in the juvenile system. We can also uncover the long-term impacts of youth arrest on life trajectories, including the ability to advance one’s education, get a job, and avoid further penetration into the system.

While youth arrest and involvement in the juvenile justice system affects the social determinants of education, income, employment, and health, these are also risk factors for involvement in the juvenile system. Poverty, racism, and grossly limited educational opportunities have well-studied connections to poor health, and also contribute to juvenile system involvement.

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What is health equity?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair opportunity to live a long, healthy life — and that health should not be disadvantaged because of a person’s race, income, neighborhood, gender, or other social or policy factor.