Juvenile Justice Association wants better future for young people

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JEFFERSON CITY - Members of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association met with Jefferson City school administrators Tuesday to discuss building better futures for young people in Missouri.

"Basically our goal here today is to bring a training that can help school administrators and educators understand not only how the juvenile justice system works, but be proactive in their approach to looking at youth outcomes," said MJJA Coordinator Seth Bauman.

Bauman said that, across the state and the nation, young people committing low-level crimes are referred to a juvenile court. He said the group's goal is to find other alternatives, possibly within school districts, to give those young people a chance at being successful.

He said preventing crime among young people will produce more successful and productive adults, and ultimately a better society.

One of the primary goals of the training is to increase the level of communication between school staff, students and the juvenile justice system.

"I appreciate the fact that they're willing to come in and communicate with us, because we work side by side a lot of times throughout the school year, but it's helpful to hear their side of how to handle certain situations," said Simonson Ninth Grade Center Assistant Principal Mike Shipp.

Bauman said this is a new program being rolled out by MJJA. He said the group hopes it creates a buzz so they can talk to more schools.

"The goal is to train as many schools as possible," Bauman said.

He said MJJA research analysts collect data on interactions when students get in trouble. They use that information, along with school district data, to form new training strategies for dealing with troubled students.

"I think we're seeing more issues with our youth today," Shipp said.

He said the main point he took from the training was improving communication and giving students every opportunity to succeed.

"I think the key point is that every youth matters," Bauman said.