Georgia — The Coalition for Juvenile Justice recently hosted a Youth Justice Advocacy Month virtual webinar about their recently released Youth Justice Advocacy Month toolkit. The speakers included Youth Program Organizer Alani Rouse, and Emerging Leaders Committee Member Myla Round.
Young people coming into contact with the justice system is why the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) emphasizes their efforts in helping combat racism and injustice toward young people. The administrator of OJJDP, Elizabeth Ryan, asserts that "central to each of OJJDP's priorities is our unwavering commitment to racial equity and fairness in partnering with youth and families who are directly impacted by the juvenile justice system."
The OJJDP has helped develop strategies to better engage the youth in combating the broken juvenile justice system. It has achieved initiatives such as integrating the youth in its grant process. OJJDP has paved a path for young people to share their experiences and use their voices to be peer reviewers for grant application processes. These beneficial opportunities allow young people who have experienced the juvenile criminal system to participate in OJJDP's funding decisions equitably and fairly.
As for the Youth Justice Advocacy Month toolkit, OJJDP's Co-Executive Director Tracey Tucker does a phenomenal job of educating webinar viewers about how the toolkit is supposed to serve as a resource, but what is equally important is "follow up is really important with young people." This means that hosting events meant getting young people involved and having a voice to get their feedback, which is to follow up with the participants to demonstrate interest in what they have to say. The essential aspect of representing and being there for young people is to meet them where they are and understand their issues by providing resources that address them.
Everyone has their own experiences, and OJJDP's webinar speakers effectively break down the steps of interacting with livid, experienced young people in the juvenile justice system and how to actively help them. It is simple to learn more about the justice system and its impact on young people; however, having meaningful consensual dialogue goes a long way and can positively impact those who have undergone a challenging past.
It's informational and helpful webinars hosted by the OJJDP that give young people hope for those in the juvenile justice system in being able to provide young people a voice.
Ashleigh Ewald (she/her/hers) is a Georgia-based journalist who attends Oglethorpe University. Follow her on IG: @ashleighewaldofficial.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett