When kids get into trouble, when they fail in school, and turn to destructive paths seeking power, money, and a sense of belonging, it’s easy to dismiss the child as a “bad kid”, write him off, cope with his presence in school, keep him out of the way of the students who are succeeding, wait it out until he’s no longer there.
But take a trip into the early years of that now-troubled teenager, and you’ll often find a child who faced frequent toxic stress and who didn’t have a consistent adult available for love, guidance, even food. When kids bring their trauma into public schools, administrators and teachers are faced with a depth of problem they often don’t have the resources to address. And the child turns in a direction that could lead to a life of crime, incarceration, and a universe of squandered human potential.
On this edition of CoastLine, we explore the evolving practice of and the philosophy behind juvenile justice in North Carolina and how some local leaders are working to strengthen families and provide resources in new ways.
According to the North Carolina Juvenile Justice data from 2010-2016, the number of kids put into detention centers decreased by 56%. School-based incidents decreased by nearly a third across the state.
What's behind those declining numbers?
Chris Preston, Youth Empowerment Services Manager with New Hanover County Community Justice Services