In 2006, I was chaperoning a church trip for teens when the conversation among the chaperones turned to the courtroom and what types of things I experienced there involving teens.
As I spoke, I realized that many of the chaperones who were parents, teachers and others who were engaged and had a vested interest in teens but had no idea what happened in the real world. Their attitudes and beliefs were the same I saw from parents of teens who were in trouble with the law-a lack of understanding and knowledge that could help kids. I spent the rest of the trip formulating Teenage Years 101.
TEENAGE YEARS 101 is a program that has been developed to help both parents and teens understand and appreciate that all choices have consequences, and that courtrooms are where those choices made on Friday nights become reality.
When I encounter families while wearing a robe, I will perform the duty the law demands, and if that duty involves imprisonment, so be it. However, if I can meet teens and parents without the robe on, and address real-life issues in frank discussions, I
hope to provide realistic information based on experience that
families can discuss in their homes, classrooms or religious centers. The parents can put their own filter on the information and discuss with their teens what happens when they make certain choices.
No judge enjoys incarcerating anyone, especially teens. However, we live in a society in which parents no longer are expected to rear their children. Our society wants police officers, teachers, probation officers, family case workers and judges to rear children – anyone but parents.
Therefore, the legislature has responded and expanded the list of illegal acts because the only way “the system” can attempt to rear children is to place them under some level of supervision. In Teenage Years 101, we do not debate whether that policy is correct but, rather, how that policy affects teens.
THIS PROGRAM is my passion, and with the assistance of wonderful and equally passionate volunteers, we have tried constantly to update the program to ensure that it remains fresh and current. At the program, we discuss alcohol, DUI, curfew, drugs, sex, driving offenses, seat belt laws, the Internet and other timely topics that affect teens and their parents.
People often ask what age a child should be before attending. My stock answer is that I do not want to be the person who first discusses the birds and the bees with your teen. Only the adult responsible for the teen can decide the maturity level of the child, and whether a discussion of these topics is age-appropriate.
As for the adults, if you first consider these issues when your child is a junior in high school, you may be late because they are exposed to more than they share with you at an earlier age than you could ever imagine. Teenage Years 101 is not that book we have all looked for that is entitled How to Rear a Teenager in All Circumstances.
But the program is geared to provide you with real information and data that both parents and teens can use to avoid seeing me when the robe is on.
Through the generosity of the Augusta Bar Association, upcoming programs at the Kroc Center have been sponsored as a free event for both adults and teens. WAGT-TV (Channel 26) also has been kind enough to sponsor these events, and have been helping spread the word about the upcoming programs.
AT 7 P.M. MONDAY, a session of Teenage Years 101 for adults was presented at the Kroc Center. On the following Monday, Aug. 27, a session for teens will be presented at the Kroc Center. The program is free of charge, and there is no sign-up required.
You can visit our website, Teenageyears101.com for more information.
(The writer is a superior court judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit.)