DJJ ANTI-GANG CAMPAIGN: 1ST ANNUAL YOUTH SYMPOSIUM AND LAW ENFORCEMENT VISITS
The Department of Juvenile Justice is dedicated to the elimination of gang activity among Georgia youth. As part of this commitment, DJJ recently held two separate anti-gang initatives at its Atlanta YDC and Metro RYDC facilities: The 1st Annual Youth Symposium and the Anti-Gang Law Enforcement Program.
DJJ YOUTH SYMPOSIUM
On June 2nd, the Atlanta Youth Development Campus (Atlanta YDC) held its 1st Annual Youth Symposium. The theme of this year's event was the Department of Juvenile Justice's Anti-Gang Campaign: It's YOUR Story...Write your own Ending!
Special guests to the Symposium included Captain K.D. Johnson of the DeKalb County Police Department and DeKalb County Medical Examiner Director, DeWayne Calhoun. Director Calhoun commanded the attention of the entire crowd with a chilling presentation of the consequences of gang life which included a demonstration using a body bag.
Group participation with the Atlanta YDC youth was a key component of the Symposium. In a segment called "Who's Brave Enough?", youth were tasked with eulogizing themselves after imagining their deaths from the consequences of gang life and activity. On the positive side, the Atlanta YDC Steppers, the facility Step Team, impressed youth and guests alike with their hard stomping, exciting routine.
The Statewide Security Risk Group Coordinator organized the Youth Symposium with the main goals of addressing youth gang violence, stopping teen drug abuse, avoiding risky sexual behavior and promoting youth development and self-esteem.
"During this symposium, I wanted to give our youth a voice." Ms. Brandenburg stated. "Many of these young men have been yearning to be heard and act out due to neglect, forcing everyone to "listen" through dangerous activity."
In addition to listening to the concerns of young people, Ms. Bradenburg also believes that "effective youth mentors and programs with high levels of youth involvement are a valuable resource to give direction and guidance to young people in our community. When a youth has a voice - a voice that's not frowned upon because of current situations or circumstances -- that youth is given the power to change their mindset for the better."
ANTI-GANG LAW ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM
(From left to right; Sgt. Christopher Johnson/ Fulton County Sheriff Dept., Deputy Burnice Howard/ Fulton County Sheriff Dept., Sgt. Damien Butler/ Fulton County Sheriff Dept. and Officer Rico Rucker/ Fulton County Police Department)
In July, the young men of the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center (Metro RYDC) had an eye opening visit from members of the Fulton County Police Department and Fulton County Sheriffs Department. The key message: the Gang Life is NO life!
During the talk, Metro RYDC youth listened to each officer's experiences with gang members currently inside the Fulton County jail. The biggest shock to the youth was the fact that the jailed gang members were now largely ignored by the gangs they once belonged; street gangs turn their backs on individual members as soon as they are jailed and no longer useful to the gang. Loyalty in gangs is non-existent and the crimes that members commit (murder, assault, robberies) are forgotten, leaving ex-members to fend for themselves.
DJJ continues to be proactive in its efforts to spread an anti-gang message. Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper, Division of Operations and Compliance, thanks all of the law enforcement agency representatives who came out in support of these recent events:
City of Atlanta Police Department
City of Atlanta Corrections
Fulton County School System Police Department
Fulton County Sheriff Department
College Park Police Department
DeKalb County Police Department
DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office
Special thanks to Statewide Security Risk Group Coordinator Monique Brandenburg for helping organize these powerful events.