Category Archives: Juvenile Justice–Student Discipline–Keeping Kids in Class

2 Minute Advocacy Ask: Support Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System


The “Ask”:  
Call members of the House and Senate (listed below) Appropriations Conference Committee and ask them to: 
the ask1. Support raises for Juvenile Court Judges, and 
2. Add funding for 28 public defenders for juvenile court in the FY 2018 budget so that there is true parity with prosecutors in juvenile court.
The Why: 
Georgia has set the standard among states for how to protect public safety by reducing recidivism and pursuing better lifelong outcomes for young offenders. 
We need to support experienced and specialized juvenile court judges who work to determine and improve futures for countless children both in situations of abuse and the whyneglect as well as for children who misbehave.
Additionally, the need for dedicated, specialized representation for children in juvenile court is not only developmentally appropriate policy, but with the passage of the new juvenile code in 2013, it is now required by state law. The Georgia Public Defenders Council currently do not receive enough state funds for juvenile defense work, despite being charged by statute with representing all delinquency cases in juvenile court. Such funding is crucial to continue our record of meaningful juvenile justice reform in Georgia.
The Message:  

“Hi – My name is ___________.  Please support the governor’s request for pay raises for judges the messageserving Georgia’s juvenile courts, and also please add funding for juvenile public defenders when the FY 2018 budget comes before you.  Such funding is crucial to continue our record of meaningful juvenile justice reform across the state.  Thank you for your service and for your leadership for the children of Georgia.”
The How:  

Click below to contact House Appropriations Chairman Terry England and Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill, and call or email them with the message above.

the how>>> HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS  Chairman Terry England  –   404-463-2247

>>> SENATE APPROPRIATIONS  Chairman Jack Hill  –   404-463-2518

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Filed under Juvenile Justice--Student Discipline--Keeping Kids in Class, Our Legislative Agenda

2 Minute Advocacy Ask for this Week

The “Ask”:  Call or write two members of the House Appropriations Committee. Ask them to support Gov. voiceDeal’s budget request for money the Department of Corrections will use to enable prisoners to get GEDs and high school diplomas.

The Why:  Considering that there are about 2800 children under 22 years of age currently in the Department of Corrections (as opposed to those children in the Department of Juvenile Justice), and considering that about 70% of those in the DOC never attain a GED or high school diploma, this is an important step.  The governor’s budget requests for both FY 15 and FY 16 contain funding for this endeavor.

The Message: “Dear (House Appropriations member), As a citizen of this great state, I want you to know I strongly support Gov. Deal’s budget request for funding education staff and resources in the GA Department of Corrections. With this funding, people in prison and leaving prison will be able to GEDs and high school diplomas. I believe this is an important step forward, and I hope you will vote in favor of it.”

The How:  Go to to find the House Appropriation Committee members. If your representative is on the committee, write or call them. Otherwise, pick two from the education sub-committee and call or write them. They ALL need to hear from citizens of GA.


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Filed under Juvenile Justice--Student Discipline--Keeping Kids in Class, Our Legislative Agenda, The Informed Advocate

Get Your Feet Wet! Join Us for “Day at the Capitol”!

UUCA is  participating in the Interfaith Children’s Movement’s  DAY AT THE CAPITOL – Wed. February 4.

Advocacy in a group won’t make you nervous and is quite a lot of fun.

capitol citizens

ICM is calling upon the interfaith community to “Have a Heart for Children” at ICM Day at the Capitol on Wed. February 4,  from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.)  Let’s speak up for Georgia’s children!

Why are we speaking up?   Take a look.

We will gather at Trinity United Methodist Church, 265 Washington Street, SW, Atlanta, 30303,  located immediately down the street from the State Capitol.

About the Day

9:00 a.m. Registration/Continental Breakfast

9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Orientation and Legislative Briefing

12:30 p.m. – Lunch and debriefing To REGISTER just send an email to  The last day to register is February 2, 2015.  For more detailed information about the day, go to ICM Day at the Capitol 2015 .

Parking is limited around the Capitol area, so we plan to carpool from UUCA.


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Filed under and Other Issues, Child Health--Insurance, Ending Childhood Sexual Exploitation, Events, Foster Care--Transitioning Youth, Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Juvenile Justice--Student Discipline--Keeping Kids in Class, Obesity, Our Legislative Agenda

Advocacy Every Week During Georgia Legislative Session

Be a Voice for Children!   

Each Sunday during the annual GA legislative session (now thru April 15), visit Promise the Children’s Advocacy Table in the social hall and use your voice to speak up for children.

“I promise you, legislators listen to citizens,” says UUCA member Nan Orrock, who is a state senator.

Our voices do make a difference!

Below: Hildegarde Gray, Tricia Stultz & Joy Borra lead the PTC Advocacy group.


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Filed under Ending Childhood Sexual Exploitation, Foster Care--Transitioning Youth, Help for Homeless and Struggling Families, Juvenile Justice--Student Discipline--Keeping Kids in Class, Our Legislative Agenda

UUCA’s Children’s Sabbath is Sunday, October 19

Sabbath flyer-4

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October 1, 2014 · 1:02 pm

Register for “Lunch and Learn” after the Children’s Sabbath

Lunch and Learn

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October 1, 2014 · 12:26 pm

The Importance of Legislative Advocacy: Teenage Behavior and “The Law”

From Joy Borra, PTC Legislative Advocacy Team

Here’s a great article on teenage behavior that recently came my way. Juvenile Judge Steven Teske talks about brain immaturity and using “restorative justice” instead of jail to deal with the “stupid things” young people do.

Judge Teske should know. He is chief juvenile judge in Clayton County. Judge Teske was a key figure in creating the new, modern Juvenile Code passed by the Georgia legislature last year. The new Code puts much of its focus on diverting the least violent offenders away from jail. It is one of the best Juvenile Codes in the nation.

Good laws are not easy to get passed. Child advocates worked for SIX years on the legislation. Many UUCA members worked along right side them, and when the legislation was being actively considered, thousands of people of faith like us joined the campaign for passage.

Legislative Advocacy is one important focus area for UUCA’s Promise the Children Advocacy and Action Group.We invite you to add your voice…and stand for justice for all Georgia’s children.

* * * * *
We encourage you to check our website,
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OP-ED: Helping Kids Through the ‘Age of Stupidity’

By: Judge Steven Teske | February 6, 2014

Some things in life can’t be explained.

Whether it’s the Bermuda Triangle, the origin of the “Big Bang” or the construction of Stonehenge, we come up with theories but the truth escapes us.

My wife sometimes asks, “Why do you love me?”

I recite the litany of things about her that excite me, but the truth—I don’t know. I can’t explain the chemistry between us; it just is!

It used to be that way explaining why teenagers do stupid things. We assumed their immaturity stemmed from their short stint on this earth—lack of brain development.

As technology advances, so does our understanding of the once unexplainable. The adolescent brain is one of the theory-to-fact instances proven by technology—magnetic resonance imaging of the teenage brain. The teenage brain is under neurological construction through age 25.

We hug our kids at high school graduation, send them to college proud of their achievement, but are dumbfounded when they call for help. Whether it’s a fraternity hazing incident, disorderly conduct arrest during Spring Break or the credit card companies found your child, parents don’t stop parenting at age 18.

Parents of teenagers are scared. They just want to get their kids through the “Age of Stupidity”—but so many adults over our children view stupidity and criminality as synonymous when other alternatives would suffice.

It causes me to wonder if these adults have not yet left the “Age of Stupidity” themselves.

You know what’s sad? These adults know that kids are immature, that their brains are still developing. They know kids make poor choices–that they get into fights, get mad and cuss, throw stuff across the classroom and a bunch of other really dumb things.

These adults also know that with age comes growth. With growth comes maturity. With maturity comes fewer stupid stunts.

We call this “aging out,” and this is why progressive juvenile justice systems emphasize restorative justice approaches in the handling of these stupid stunts. These same systems work collaboratively with schools and police to find alternatives to arresting the kids that make us mad, reserving the strong arm of the law for the scary kids.

I recall fights at my school in the early ‘70s. A student brought a gun to school. Marijuana was the drug of choice and the cafeteria was the venue for buying a joint for dessert. I recall my principal chasing a student down the hallway or outside my classroom window, always in awe of how this man of small physical stature possessed so much athleticism. I once saw him catch a student twice his size running across the baseball field. The kid didn’t stand a chance.

Most of these pot smoking, fisticuffing and class disrupting clowns went on to graduate and do well in life and the police were never involved. They didn’t go to juvenile court.

How is it different 40 years later? We still have the pot smoking, fisticuffing and disruptive classroom clowns. True, there is more of it, but that’s about math. Our population has grown exponentially, as evidenced by the construction of five more high schools.

But our juvenile justice system has grown along with the population—not just in numbers, but in understanding adolescent development, identifying delinquency risk factors and the best practices in re-directing kids.

One thing is for sure: we had to stop treating every pot smoking, fisticuffing and classroom disrupting clown like a criminal and devote our resources to the kids that scare us—the burglars, the car thieves and those wielding guns. They were not getting the supervision and treatment necessary to stop their reoffending because we were spending more time watching the kids that make us mad.

And there are still some who say, “But Steve, don’t most of these pot smoking, fisticuffing and disruptive classroom clowns become the scary kids?”

The answer is the same as as it was in my day: “No.”

I negotiated a protocol to stop most misdemeanor school arrests and created a “Restorative Justice” division in my court devoted strictly to diverting delinquent acts that can be classified as “typical juvenile behavior.”

Recently, a three-year recidivist study was performed on kids diverted from the court using restorative programs in the community. In 2010, 714 kids were diverted into restorative justice programs. We never saw 528 of them again. Of the 186 that returned most were misdemeanors typical of juvenile misconduct. Most of them were diverted to other restorative justice programs and the vast majority we have not seen again.

This system has allowed us to devote all of probation to only the scary kids and this is critical knowing that these kids make up the bulk of juvenile crime in the county. The creation of our Restorative Justice Program is an essential element to a 60 percent decline in juvenile arrests—we are spending more time with the scary kids!

Like Elizabeth Browning’s poem, I can easily explain how I love my wife by counting the ways, but I still can’t explain why. It’s just magical chemistry.

But there is nothing magical in the treatment of our kids, we do know the how and whys of effective treatment—some of us choose to ignore it.

Reproduced from

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