Justice for girls
The report Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Hawaii Juvenile Justice System: 2000-2010 shines light on many important issues related to the state’s juvenile justice system, especially those related to runaways (“Juvenile Injustice,” Jan. 2). Dr. Chesney-Lind touched on one point that I want to elaborate on a little more: Many of these youth struggle with trauma from abuse, violence and/or neglect, and exhibit trauma symptoms like self-injury and running away.
[The Weekly] mentioned Wahi Kanaaho as a program that reconnects youth with their culture and community. Another resource girls and their families can turn to is Project Kealahou, a federally funded, trauma-informed program within the Department of Health. Inspired by other girl-focused programs like Girls Court, Project Kealahou provides support to all girls who need it, including those in the juvenile justice system, by providing services such as trauma therapy, mentoring, support groups and cultural education. Gender-responsive programs like Project Kealahou are important to making sure girls at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility and other facilities get the support they need to overcome their past traumatic experiences and create a better life.
The Project is also working on system-level policy development and initiatives to address trauma and the special needs of girls. For more information, please visit [projectkealahou.org].
Tia Roberts Director, Project Kealahou Honolulu, HI