Date of Award

Spring 6-14-2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Global Honors

First Advisor

Jeffrey Cohen


This thesis examines children’s rights and support structures for youth of color in the United States, while relying on South Africa as a framework of the needed balance between individual rights and enforcement in a democratic country. Institutionalized racism and treatment of children can be seen throughout many different cultural histories. However, the United States is the only country that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with no robust standard on the treatment of children across the Country. Because of this, the literature review explores the consequences youth of color face in education and juvenile justice systems as well as how they manifested. Through the use of qualitative research methods in both Cape Town, South Africa and Tacoma, Washington, data was collected and analyzed to understand the way in which youth of color need more support structures to ensure their rights are not being violated. In doing so, this research examines how a rights-based Constitution could inform juvenile justice policy in the South Puget Sound region. In response to these issues, an innovative pathway around how one might implement juvenile policy change in Tacoma, Washington is discussed.