The Youth Justice Research Collaborative (YJRC) research monitors the implementation and impact of Raise the Age in New York City to will shed light on the most urgent questions that need to be asked about the Raise the Age legislation. Our research questions were drawn from and refined by an advisory group of more than 40 advocates, lawyers, service providers, directly impacted youth, and families.
YJRC is a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project. PAR provides a critical framework for making science – systematic inquiry and analysis – a public enterprise. Allied with feminist, critical race, queer, and indigenous theories, PAR is an approach to research rooted in the belief that valid knowledge is produced only in collaboration and in action, and that those typically “studied” should be architects of the process. PAR positions those most intimately impacted by research as leaders in shaping research questions, framing interpretations, and designing meaningful research products and actions. PAR shifts power dynamics around who is considered an expert.
With these commitments as a foundation we are using a wide variety of data collection methods to study the implementation of the Raise the Age policy. Our methods — which include including court observations, focus groups with impacted youth, and surveys of public defenders and social workers — are designed to maximize flexibility, to accommodate the exploratory nature of the project and the diverse experiences and interests of the intergenerational research team. These methods allow us to collaboratively explore a range of questions about youth experiences with Raise the Age.