The Kids Are At-Risk: Juvenile Justice On 'Stuff Mom Never Told You'

Stuff Mom Never Told You host Samantha used to work with her friend Courtney Jones at the Department of Juvenile Justice as probation officers and social workers. They had many conversations about what was broken in the justice system, and how there are so many small facets that get overlooked during conversations about sweeping changes, like defunding the police. So for this episode, Courtney joins Samantha and her co-host Anney to talk about women in civil service and nonprofits, how to effect necessary change while keeping our eye on the at-risk teens that need help the most, why our eyes should be on the budgets and the ballot, and so much more.

Courtney remembers many programs being available in her low-income neighborhood when she was a kid, like a recreation center that provided sports and arts programs for free for kids, or programs that encouraged them to go to college by giving free campus tours. A lot of those programs simply don’t exist anymore, or they aren’t in rural areas, and many families can’t travel to take advantage of those opportunities. “Our kids get bored,” Courtney points out, and when they don’t have anywhere healthy to concentrate their energy, they get into trouble. Sometimes, they’ll even be encouraged to commit crimes by adults in their lives, because they’ll get less jail time. The amount of social workers in the justice system has increased somewhat, but even so, the focus is still more on punishment than prevention. And though social workers are often putting their lives at risk to take care of these families, they don’t get the same support as police do from the government. 

It all comes down to budgets, which is why “defund the police” is such an important policy proposal. The idea is that instead of investing billions of dollars into law enforcement – which, according to the numbers, hasn’t actually brought down crime significantly – we would invest in more mental health and social workers to respond to certain calls, and in more programs that can lead at-risk youth to better opportunities in the first place. It’s a multi-pronged approach, instead of just throwing money into one pot and expecting things to change. It’s a tough sell, because people like what they know, Courtney admits – but if we really want to talk about the future of our country and our kids, we need to take these important steps in a different, and better, direction. They also discuss women’s unique role in social services, why social work has such a stigma attached to it, and why voting in local elections is so essential to making big changes; hear the entire fascinating conversation on this episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You

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