This study clearly depicts that Youth involved in the justice system have significant health comorbidities including high rates of mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and chronic health problems.1,2 Moreover, justice-involved youth tend to live in disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods, and evidence poor educational attainment with high rates of suspension and drop-outs from school.3 As such, health care providers, advocates, and researchers universally recognize the importance of connecting justice-involved youth with needed services for mental health, substance use, and medical treatment.4 A lesser recognized need, however, is addressing the broader health promotion needs of justice-involved youth.

The authors in the current study in this volume of The Journal highlight the health promotion needs of justice-involved youth coming to an emergency department (ED).5 Justice-involved youth reported higher rates of substance use, violence, and sexually risky behaviors. These youth also had higher rates of school suspension/expulsions, which had the strongest association with a youth being involved with the justice system. In the past year, less than three-fourths had a routine health visit, yet more than one-half had an emergency room encounter. These findings suggest the ED is a potential location to promote health behaviors, provide psychological support, and intervene early to reduce behaviors which lead to school suspensions/expulsions.

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