Compassionate Care of Adjudicated Youth in Bucks County
Posted on March 18, 2019 by By Dr. Kathy Wu, a Delaware Valley University Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology.
On Monday, Feb.18, my undergraduate Adolescent Psychology students and I had an opportunity to broaden our discourse on the complex biological, social, and cognitive transitions typically undergone by adolescents at the Bucks County Youth Center (The Youth Center).
The Youth Center is a temporary detention center for alleged and adjudicated delinquent youth between the ages of 10 and 18. The focus of our visit was to provide students with a more holistic perspective on how adolescents who encounter challenges during this pivotal period in their development can be supported with compassion by our communities. It was wonderful to see that so much important and meaningful work is being done to promote healthier futures for young people in a place that is only a stone’s throw away from DelVal’s campus.
We met with Brian Boger, the Center’s supervisor of program and system development, who provided with us an in-depth presentation on the general background of youth who end up at the Youth Center, the philosophy of the facility, and the day-to-day operations of the Center. The Center’s philosophy focuses on providing trauma-informed rehabilitation services to youth. Mr. Boger also took us on a brief tour of the dormitories where the residents are provided a safe and comfortable space to work on improving aspects of their functioning that resulted in their involvement with the Juvenile Court.
Mr. Boger, who works hard every day to humanize the experiences of the residents, had this to say about welcoming our DelVal students: “At the Bucks County Youth Center, our agency’s mission includes serving our local academic community as a place for internships and study in the field of juvenile justice. I’m always pleased to share our facility with the students and faculty at DelVal and value the long-term relationship between our institutions.”
Shane Wittkop ’20, who is a pursuing a counseling psychology major and policy studies minor, reported developing a stronger appreciation for the therapeutic work that is being done to support the needs of adolescents.
“I was really impressed with The Youth Center and was happy to see that they seem to genuinely care about the well-being of the youth,” he shared. “They acknowledge the fact that environmental influences are key during adolescent years in relation to development and they try to foster an environment to help them. I learned about the importance of treating adjudicated youth as adolescents and not convicts because if they were to be treated like prisoners they would get worse and not better.”
Overall, my students reported feeling the field trip provided them with important insights into the lived experiences of youth whose lives have taken them on a less traditional developmental trajectory.
Sarah Young ’21, who is majoring in counseling psychology, had this to say about our short visit:
“I really enjoyed listening to Mr. Boger talk at the Bucks County Youth Center. We learned so much in such a short period of time; it was never boring. My attention was kept the whole time, and it was so interesting to learn about because I had never been in a place like that before. I highly recommend going there and taking a tour.”
To take a tour of The Youth House, contact BucksBCYCinfo@co.bucks.pa.us.