Mental Health resources for Young Offenders (MHYO) International Conference

International Conference

With a wide International appeal, representatives of United Nations, EU institutions, national and regional local authorities, university experts and NGO’ s, on the 9th and 10th November 2010 took place the Fourth IJJO International Conference, in Rome (Italy) under the title 'Building Integrated Juvenile Justice systems: Approaches and methodologies regarding mental disorders and drug misuse'.

This Fourth IJJO International Conference, co-organized with the Istituto Don Calabria, having the collaboration of the Ministry of Youth of Italy, in the framework of the 2010 International Year of Youth, the Ministry of Justice of Italy, The Comune di Roma and Diagrama Association International.

This year, the International Conference IJJO took as central theme the need to develop programmes and sources that promote an efficient intervention with minors and young people that suffer from mental disorders or some kind of addiction to toxic substances being in a situation of risk of, or in conflict with the Law. In this way, the conference focused on two principal issues: a) Mental disorders and drugs misuse: Analysis of the situation of minors in conflict with the law. b) Juvenile justice and health systems: A necessary multidisciplinary and integrative collaboration.

In The welcome speech, the chairman of the International Juvenile Justice Observatory, Mr. Francisco Legaz, emphasized the need of the "development and promotion of Integrative juvenile justice Systems, with a good coordination and collaboration between justice, health and socioeducative issues", also highlighting the words "in no case we should criminalize our children and youth with mental health problems, just as we should not pathologizing our young offenders". The same topic was dealt during the opening session of the Conference by Dr. Roberto Salvan, General Director of General Directorate of the Italian Committee for UNICEF and Dr. Bruno Brattoli, Head of Department for Juvenile Justice in the Ministry of Justice of Italy.

Along the two-day conference, more than sixty speakers, more than 60 speakers from around the world discussed the issues related to intervention with young offenders particularly vulnerable due to mental and / or drug misuse. Among them, a great number of high representatives from international organizations: (UNICEF, ILANUD, Committee on the Rights of the Child, etc) International NGOs (The International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates (IAYFJM); the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) and national organisms as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice of United States, took part at the Conference. Besides, within the framework of the collaboration agreements between the IJJO and National Institutions, was outstanding the participation of The Department of Judicial Protection of Youth, Ministry of Justice of France and SENAME Ministry of Justice of Chile.

The principal speech of the Conference was presented by, Prof. Dr. Thomas Grisso (University of Massachusetts, Medical School of United States) dealing with a presentation on ‘Guiding Principles when Developing Treatment Programs for Young Offenders with Mental Disorders’.

The Fourth International Conference was celebrated within the framework of the research project of the European Commission DAPHNE III Program "European comparative analysis and knowledge transfer on mental-health resources for young offenders", coordinated by the IJJO. This project has the principal objective of development of good practices and training programmes adapted to the needs of professionals and minors, focused on an integrative and multidisciplinary collaboration between the Juvenile justice and health systems.

In total more than 350 assistants from 50 countries coming from Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Oceania) debated about transversal issues on juvenile justice, such as: the study of the situation of minor offenders which suffer of mental health disorders or drug misuse; the responses of the juvenile justice systems to the offences committed by minors or young people that suffer from mental disorders; the profile of the minor offender and the analysis of resources employed towards their social integration; the ethical and deontological aspects about the health disorders treatment; the need to promote specialized resources between the Juvenile justice and health services, etc.

As a conclusion, the need to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the situation of young offenders with mental disorders, attending to social, familiar and personal circumstances of these minors, improving an integrative and multidisciplinary coordination and collaboration between all the stakeholders and agencies involved in the field. Through concrete recommendations brought out by the Scientific Committee of the Fourth International Conference, the IJJO main purpose, for the period 2010-2012, is The Promotion in the International and European agenda of an improvement of health resources for young offenders on prevention and intervention policies, to provide an effective response on the minors’ best interest.



DAPHNE III Programme
The European Comparative Analysis and Transfer of Knowledge
on Mental Health Resources for Young Offenders (MHYO)