In August, the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center (Rockdale RYDC) held its first monthly speaker’s session entitled “Youth and Parent Engagement Forum.” Created by Rockdale RYDC’s Volunteer Resource Services, the forums are designed to help sustain an open communication line between youth and parents in an informal environment through lectures on various social topics.
DJJ Investigator Ray Ham
The topic for this first forum was "Gangs," presented by Ray Ham, DJJ Security Risk Group Coordinator and Full Refuge Gang Intervention Specialist Devon Harris. “The parent-child relationship, whether positive or negative, is a significant factor whether a young person turns to a life of organized crime or not,” said Ham. “DJJ recognizes the challenges parents face raising their children; that is why we have created this proactive support program.”
Full Refuge Gang Intervention Specialist Devon Harris
Harris describes the presentation to provide parents with answers to common questions about gangs, enabling them to recognize and prevent gang involvement. There are many things parents can do to help their children stay away from gangs, including monitoring their activities, fostering close relationships, and using positive and consistent discipline, said Harris.
Parents listening intently at the Rockdale RYDC Youth and Parent Engagement Forum
Approximately twenty youth and twenty-two parents participated in the program, learning about the destructive nature of gangs in their communities and how these gangs can ensnare youth into a false sense of security. The audience asked many thought-provoking questions, and based on a survey taken following the presentation, many parents anticipate attending the next scheduled meeting.
A special thank you goes out to Rockdale RYDC Volunteer Resource Coordinator Staci Hill-Wilson, Food Service Director Rhonda Tucker, Assistant Director of Programs Pamela Woodard, Officer Mia Wallace, Officer Alisa Keys, Mr. Sharit Russell of H.R., and the entire Rockdale RYDC Security Team and staff involved in organizing the Youth and Parent Engagement Forum.
Rockdale RYDC staff supporting the Youth and Parent Engagement Forum
Topics for future forums included a focus on issues such as mental health and prescription medication. For those interested in becoming a volunteer at the Rockdale RYDC, please contact Volunteer Resource Coordinator Staci Hill-Wilson at [email protected].