Online juvenile justice degrees provide an in-depth look at the systems in place to punish and rehabilitate people under the age of 18 who have committed crimes. In juvenile justice, a greater emphasis is placed on rehabilitation and treatment than punishment since children and teens are still developing and are deemed to have a greater ability to change their behavior patterns. This differs from the adult criminal justice system, where a greater emphasis is placed on protecting the public from offenders and issuing a punishment that is fitting to the crime.
While juvenile justice course work is similar in some regards to course work you would find in a program in corrections, the emphasis in juvenile justice is on young offenders. Juvenile justice students will learn about special issues that professionals in the field face when working with children and teens, as well as programs that aim to curb criminal behavior in at-risk teens. Students will learn about community-based and residential options aimed at educating young offenders and addressing any mental health concerns.
Juvenile justice often incorporates interdisciplinary study in sociology, psychology, and criminology as these are appropriate in learning the socioeconomic and biological factors that contribute to youth delinquency. Courses in statistics, research, communications, and writing are also incorporated, particularly at the graduate level, so that those who work in juvenile justice professions can make research-based decisions and effectively shape juvenile justice policy.
Graduates of online juvenile justice programs may pursue careers as juvenile probation offers, correctional officers in youth detention centers or correctional centers, counselors at correctional youth boot camps, case managers, or juvenile program supervisors. Those who pursue graduate degrees in juvenile justice may also pursue careers as college instructors and professors in criminal justice and teach courses in juvenile justice.