An angry teenager and his mom get in a fight. She’s never been afraid of her children before, but now her little boy has turned into a 6’2” young man, and somehow this minor argument has turned into a scary situation. So, mom calls the police.
When they arrive, it doesn’t matter if he injured anyone – it’s a Domestic Assault charge either way. That means a court date, and usually having to stay in juvenile detention until that date. It can throw a young person’s life off course.
That is where the Bridge comes in. As part of the Hennepin County Youth Intervention Programs Initiative, the Bridge provides critically needed intervention services to these youth.
Instead of going to juvenile detention, some youth with a domestic assault charge and no prior convictions can stay at The Bridge while they await their court date, as long as they attend school every day and complete other program requirements. JDAI Youth and Family Counselor Richard Bell transports them to their court dates and connects them with other resources.
If they complete the six-month program without any other charges being filed the charge is removed from their record. Youth entering the program sign a contract with their legal guardian that addresses school attendance and other issues that may have caused them to be charged with domestic assault such as anger management.
“It gives the youth a second chance to become productive citizens without a criminal record,” Richard said. The program also works with the family to develop a Safety Plan which identifies resources for the family to use in hopes of avoiding police involvement should a new conflict arise. This program is a collaborative effort between the Headway Diversion Program and The Bridge for Youth.
The Bridge also offers RESILIENT, a support group focusing on issues of domestic violence. The group is open to current and former program participants, as well as other youth. The group goes beyond domestic violence and covers social topics including black history and women’s rights, and has even gone fishing.
“I’ve been a youth advocate all my life,” Richard said. “As soon as I started sitting in on these meetings and helping to encourage these families, I knew it was a place where I could make a huge difference.”
By the time they complete the program, 70 percent of participants report having the ability to decrease their risky behavior.
The JDAI program goes a long way towards helping young people grow up to be productive adults, and we’re glad to provide them a comfortable place to stay while participating.
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