Free online seminar will address unequal treatment for youth

Local News

The Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Quad Cities, with the help of other community organizations, is sponsoring a free online webinar, “Race, Adolescence and Trauma,” at noon Tuesday, June 22.

The webinar will feature Kristin Henning, J.D., LL.M., Blume Professor of Law and director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., a news release says.

Henning has written extensively about race, adolescence and policing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and books, and she also is the author of the forthcoming book, “The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth.”

Racial bias-induced trauma can include:

  • Being followed in a store by managers because of their color.
  • Living in communities and going to schools that are highly surveilled by police.
  • Experiencing frequent police stops and possible frisking.
  • And watching news reports or online coverage of Black adults and youth being shot and killed by police officers.

A recipient of numerous prestigious national awards, Henning has trained many people across the country on the nature and scope of racial bias and how it operates in the juvenile and criminal legal systems. She also has worked closely with the McArthur Foundation’s Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network to develop a national training curriculum for juvenile defenders.

Last year, she launched Ambassadors for Racial Justice, a year-long program for defenders committed to challenging racial inequities in the juvenile legal system.

“Children today are facing unprecedented trauma from the pandemic, racial tensions in our country, and disruptions in their learning and daily activities. As the community thinks about public safety and the well-being of youth, it is important that we talk about the intersection of race, adolescence and trauma,” Henning said.

Michael Guster, president of Davenport NAACP and a member of the Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Quad Cities, agrees. 

“Our community must remain vigilant and steadfast in our effort to save our youth. We must have more community involvement with mentorship, program activities, early intervention and jobs. I am excited and confident this workshop will help us take action to move from incarceration of our youth to restorative practices,” he said.

“Currently, juvenile justice systems rely on costly incarceration and probation,” said Margie Mejia-Caraballo, chair of the Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Quad Cities and vice president of Progressive Action for the Common Good.

“There are disparities between children of color and their white counterparts,” she said. “We have seen poor outcomes, high recidivism and little or no inclusion of victims. Restorative justice seeks to understand and repair the harm that has been done, specifically to the victim. We are excited about Professor Henning’s presentation regarding these issues and look forward to community participation.”

The Rev. Richard Hendricks, co-founder of One Human Family QCA, says now is the time to bring the issue of race, children and trauma to the forefront and address it head-on.

“A 2020 study conducted by researchers at Children’s National Hospital, Washington, D.C., which evaluated the use of force by police against children, found that Black and Hispanic adolescents are significantly more likely to die from shootings related to police intervention compared with non-Hispanic white adolescents,” Hendricks said. “And between 2003 and 2018, about 93 percent of children who were killed were boys. It is time for our nation to stop criminalizing minority adolescent behavior. We do not need more juvenile jail capacity but more youth programming and training. This workshop can help us understand and move toward a restorative justice model for all our youth,” he said.

The Juvenile Justice Coalition of the Quad Cities is sponsoring the event with LULAC Council 10, Davenport NAACP,One Human Family QCA,Progressive Action for the Common Good and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities.

Registration is required at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_u2vrnNX3REW-ZLpyt29xew. For more information, contact Guster at 563-343-7655.

Attendees also are invited to take part in a follow-up meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, to start working on local changes.

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