Since the 1970s, Congress has enacted a number of key laws aimed at preventing and controlling the spread of juvenile crime, as well as addressing the precursors of youth antisocial behavior, including child physical and sexual abuse, and an unstable family environment. These efforts in combination with “get tough” federal and state level juvenile crime legislation have made an impact on the problem of youth violence and serious offending (Flowers, 1990; Office of Justice Programs, 1999; U.S. Department of Justice, 1999). See also Chapter 13 for more discussion on laws and juvenile offenders. Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act enacted in 1974 and amended in 1980, was intended to identify and deinstitutionalize status offenders, dependent and neglected youth, and to separate juvenile delinquents from adult criminals. The act required: (1) a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the current juvenile justice system, (2) the impetus for development and implementation of innovative alternatives in delinquency prevention and diversion of status offenders from the criminal justice system, and (3) use of juvenile justice system resources to more effectively deal with juvenile delinquents.