HomeEducationCriminal Justice:  Justice to Protect the Juvenile: Challenging Career

Choosing a Career that Deals with Juvenile Justice

Although a juvenile justice career is usually within the criminal justice category, it is actually a very different kind of career. People interested in juvenile justice careers naturally need to have an interest in the criminal justice system, the laws, and the way the system works, but they also need to have a vested interest in protecting the welfare of child. It is not easy to switch from adult criminal justice work to juvenile justice because adults and children are very different and must be approached and communicated with differently. Although people who pursue careers in juvenile justice will spend a great deal of time working with other adults in the system, their primary responsibility is the child, and someone who cannot interact and communicate with children on an individual basis is not well-suited for a juvenile justice career.

Juvenile Justice Career: The Demands and the Rewards

There are many facets of a juvenile justice career, but the possibilities are not as extensive as in the broader criminal justice career. Essentially, a juvenile justice career involves working within the justice system primarily, or exclusively, with juveniles—people who are under the age of eighteen. This could mean working with juvenile work crews, in juvenile detention centers, or in rehabilitation camps focusing on juveniles. However, when most people refer to a juvenile justice career, the most commonly recognized professions are child advocacy lawyers, juvenile defenders, juvenile court judges, and child advocates.

It is clearly necessary that anyone working in juvenile justice have some degree of education and background in criminal justice, but in the first three of the above listed professions, a law degree is additionally required because the occupations are court-based. For those people who do not want to continually spend their days in court but who are concerned with protecting the welfare of children, becoming a child advocate could be the perfect career choice. Child advocates are often required to have a master’s degree in social work and considerable experience working with children because it is crucial that the people responsible for determining a child’s future be qualified.

Just as in education, working in a juvenile justice career can sometimes be more demanding and frustrating than working in adult criminal justice because there are more people involved. The Department of Child and Family Services, the biological parents, teachers, friends, and foster or adoptive parents can all be involved in the proceedings relating to a child in the juvenile justice system. Although most of them will claim to have the best interests of the child in mind, this is not always the case, and people working in juvenile justice must somehow sort through all this input and involvement to determine the truth and protect the child. It can be an exceptionally demanding career choice and is often not as respected as other criminal justice careers, but it can be quite rewarding for those who really care.

Criminal Justice Articles

More Criminal Justice Info