The Juvenile Justice Professional's Guide to
Human Subjects Protection and the IRB Process
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ALL juvenile justice professionals who collect, use, and share information about youth in the juvenile justice system should respect youth privacy and confidentiality rights.

Chief Juvenile Probation Officer in a large urban county and have been invited by a local university to serve on one if its Institutional Review Boards.

Chief Information Officer for the state’s Juvenile Justice Services Division and have recently received a request from a research organization to incorporate your juvenile court data into a nationwide database to support juvenile justice research.

Grants Administrator for the Department of Juvenile Justice in your state and are writing a proposal for a federal grant to support the evaluation of a new sex offender program in your county.

School-based probation officer, and you recently received a request from a graduate student for information about youth on your caseload.

In each of these circumstances, you are responsible for protecting youth rights by understanding and following the laws, regulations, and ethical standards that form the basis for these safeguards. Why do we need these regulations and what do you need to know?

All juvenile justice professionals who collect, use, and share information about youth in the juvenile justice system should respect youth privacy and confidentiality rights. If this were a standard practice, there would be little need for laws, regulations, or Institutional Review Boards to oversee legal and ethical protections. However, when mechanisms are not in place to protect juveniles who are personally involved in the research process or whose personal information is shared, their rights are often overlooked and consequently violated. Such violations are most often attributed to a general lack of knowledge rather than intent to harm. Consequently, there is not only a need for regulations, standards, and Institutional Review Boards, but also, an ethical and professional obligation to understand and to observe them. Legal and ethical responsibility for following Federal and State laws and regulations that relate to maintaining and releasing personal information about youth rests in the hands of the juvenile justice system. The importance of understanding the laws and adopting ethical principles cannot be overstated.

This on-line guide is an overview of the laws and regulations that govern human subjects research and is designed to clarify and to interpret the Common Rule for the Department of Justice, Title 28 part 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations. A comprehensive explanation of human subjects protection regulations can be found in the Common Rule document, which should accompany the reading of this guide. Juvenile justice professionals committed to protecting the rights and ensuring the well-being of youth while under the supervision of the juvenile justice system will find this guide to be a practical resource. Those interested in interpreting and applying human subject protection regulations to their practice will learn the general principles and details regarding implementation. Those planning to establish an Institutional Review Board (IRB) will find valuable resources to assist in the process.

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