Xavier Magazine

Guiding the Court

If Barbara Seibel had her way, juvenile courts would take the time to learn a little about the kids they see and dig into their lives to find out the real reason they are there.

If they spent a little time doing that instead of just running them through the system, says Seibel, they could provide some real help and save a lot of money and time in the long run.

“You don’t label a child delinquent because he’s being abused at the hands of his family,” she says.

Such advice is at the heart of a new volume of guidelines written by Seibel, a 1994 Executive M.B.A. graduate who worked for the Hamilton County Juvenile Court in Cincinnati for 24 years.

Now executive director of a non-profit agency that helps at-risk high school students, Seibel continues her consulting work with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which advised her as she wrote the book. The book offers the courts examples of best practices. It’s the third volume she’s written for the council since 1995.

The goal, she says, is for the courts to create efficient and cost-effective systems that truly help kids and include ways to measure results. “I am one of many people who have changed how this country handles neglect and abuse,” she says. “We intend through the delinquency guidelines to change how courts handle such cases throughout the country.”

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