GETTING KIDS OUT OF TROUBLE AND IN SCHOOL
November 16, 2015
Identifying Their Needs
FIXING THE PROBLEM!
We feel it is important for at-risk youth to stay out of trouble and in school. Because you give to United Way of Jackson County we are able to support a Juvenile Diversion and Truancy Prevention Program. First time juvenile offenders are identified by probate court, truant students are identified by the schools and both are referred to this program. Each child’s situation is assessed, with their needs identified and a plan put in place to put them back on the right track. 13 year old James is just one example of how a young man’s life can turned around and set on the right path.
James came into the Juvenile Diversion and Truancy Prevention Program earlier this year. James was a first time offender with an assault petition. When the client came in to complete the intake it became clear that many stressors were happening in his personal life. James admitted to using various substances to deal with the extreme pressure he was experiencing. James felt pressure to experiment with drugs to fit in and be liked by others. James also reported being physically abused by his older brother. James also disclosed that his father was not in the home. James’ mother is a fulltime worker at a production plant and is home very little during the daytime. This leaves his brother as the primary caretaker and supposedly the trusted adult in care of James. Ann, his mother, described her relationship with James as challenging; stating he rarely followed her rules, and almost always had an attitude with her. Along with all of the home dynamics he was also not doing well in school. He disclosed that he did not like going to school and did not feel that the teachers liked him.
The areas of focus for James were identified as; stop substance abuse, deal with emotions in positive ways, improve self-worth, and build positive coping skills. As part of the program, James was also referred to another local agency for substance abuse assessment and treatment. The program helped James begin to practice a regimen of identifying, communicating, and processing his emotions in positive ways to help him deal with his stressors. James was also provided tools to help him recognize his strengths and discover more about his own identify. All these measures combined together started James out on a new journey; one of learning to like himself, make positive choices, communicate his feelings, and build healthy relationships.
Upon program completion, James is no longer wanting or using any drugs, he has made better choices in friends, he and his brother are no longer having physical altercations, and he has a more positive self-image. His mother said that they have a better relationship and shared that James is talking to her more openly now about what is going on in his life. Mom also reported a significant growth with James ability to manage his attitude, choices, and behaviors. James completed the program successfully, reduced his risk factors, built upon his strengths thus improving his chances for a productive satisfying future.
We want all children to have an opportunity to succeed in school so they can succeed in life. Our goal is to break the persistent cycle of poverty in Jackson. Making sure at-risk youth don’t fall through the cracks is just one step of many to accomplish that goal.