Conducting Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Through a Healing-Informed Approach with System-Involved Latinas
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Latina girls are disproportionately represented in the US juvenile justice system (Freiburger and Burke 2011). Almost all girls involved with juvenile justice report some form of emotional, physical or sexual abuse prior to interactions with the juvenile justice system; with over 60% of girls reporting trauma before the age of 5 (Dierkhising et al. 2013). For Latina girls, juvenile detention is associated with early death as Latina girls who have been detained are nine times more likely to die by the age of 29 than the general non-detained population (Teplin et al. 2014). The stark reality faced by system-involved Latinas calls for innovative solutions.
In 2015, the National Compadres Network (NCN), with over 30 years of work embedded in the Chicano/Latino and Indigenous communities in California, developed a project to respond to the disparities in the juvenile justice system faced by Latina girls. Through this project, the NCN used a healing-informed curriculum (Xinachtli) and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to engage Latina system-involved girls as equal partners to inform detention alternatives and reform.
This paper will describe these efforts, provide insights from the YPAR facilitators and youth researchers, and provide recommendations for other community-based facilitators who are considering utilizing YPAR through a healing-informed approach within their own work with Latina girls.
KeywordsYPAR Latinas Latina youth Trauma-informed approach Juvenile justice Healing-informed
This article would not have been possible without the support and assistance of Dr. Heriberto Escamilla and Jerry Tello, the NoVo Foundation and the National Crittenton Foundation. The author also wishes to thank the teen girls of the Xinachtli-Ollin Project and NOXTIN: Equal Justice, for all of their effort in this project.
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