The number of boys in the state youth rehab and treatment center increased last year, while the number of girls decreased.
Kim Hawekotte, FCRO executive director, says the state needs to make sure it is reforming these boys and treating the root problem.
“It’s not just doing that criminal act,” Hawekotte tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We have to deal with the mental behavioral health needs within the juvenile justice system and not just holding them accountable for them doing something wrong.”
The report shows the number of girls in the rehab and treatment center decreased by 22 percent over the course of last year.
Hawekotte says for youth on probation in Nebraska, three out of four have a mental health condition.
The latest FCRO quarterly report shows more than half of those are on medication.
“A teenager might come into the system because of some delinquent or criminal acts,” she explains, “but research is out there, and we know even within this state, most of them also come to us, at that point, from a trauma history.”
The state’s juvenile justice system is evolving to treat young offenders for mental health conditions, after primarily focusing on punishment.
“Without giving them the tools by which not to do it again,” Hawekotte says, “is not going to be successful in the long-run.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]