This thesis examines youth with mental health disorders in the juvenile justice system, and when their stories intersect with media coverage. In addition to exploring the history of juvenile justice in the United States, it reviews the relationship with youths who have a mental health disorder within the system, criticism of media’s coverage on these topics, and expert opinion on how this can be improved. Typically, both print and broadcast media have utilized these stories for sensationalism: slapping these crimes across the front page of the paper, or leading in a broadcast news show. Yet the journalistic responsibility of educating the community is tragically over looked, with these stories adding to the stigma of mental health. With this research, I aim to gather insight on how word choices, details, and story structure can improve daily reporting in a world of tight deadlines and competing interests—moving into a higher-quality news product.
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