International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Social Determinants to Health: Youth in U.S. Based Armed Groups and Child Soldiers, a Human Rights Perspective
Nataka Moore, Monique Link, Tiffany McDowell

This article discusses how social conditions, cultural ethos and policies impact the mental health outcome of children in U.S. based armed gangs and child soldiers. Minority youth are disproportionately in gangs and enter the juvenile penal system. The penal system for juveniles fails to address pre-existing issues of abuse, and mental illness. Subsequently the overcrowded and poor conditions within the juvenile centers increase mental health problems. The focus on incarceration versus rehabilitation perpetuates problems and leads to worsening health disparities. By taking a human rights perspective and thus developing alternatives to costly punitive measures, mental health outcomes could improve among children vulnerable to gang influence as they do for child soldiers. This argument is very complex and this article’s goal is to raise provocative discussion that might lead to more investigation on behalf of mental health professionals and human rights activist in addressing the rights of youth in this country.

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