Promoting Youth Competence Through Balanced and Restorative Justice: A Community-Based PYD Approach


  • Rebecca Dillard The Ohio State University, College of Social Work
  • Tarkington J. Newman University of New Hampshire, Department of Social Work
  • Melissa Kim Safe Place for Youth



positive youth development, restorative justice, youth competence, community


As responses to first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders move towards community-based restorative justice, approaches such as the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Model are prominent. The BARJ Model engages the youth offender, offense victim(s), and community in which the offense occurred with three associated goals: accountability, community safety, and competency development. However, while the goals of accountability and community safety are often prioritized, many community-based restorative justice programs neglect the goal of competency development, which is ultimately a disservice not only to the youth offender, but to the community. To interrupt the cyclical nature of juvenile offending and support the long-term rehabilitation of the youth offender, the integration of the BARJ model and a positive youth development (PYD) approach within the context of community-based restorative justice is proposed. PYD is grounded in the belief that all youth have the potential for healthy development, viewing them as assets and resources in community settings. To enhance long-term development, PYD objectives simultaneously promote protective factors, develop internal and external assets, and mitigate risk factors. The integration of a PYD approach within the BARJ model addresses the need to enhance youth competency development through PYD indicators inherent to many community-based programs. This article explores the conceptual compatibility of integration of the BARJ model and a PYD approach with the goal of promoting competency development among youth offenders in a restorative justice context.


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