This pandemic affected and continues affecting my family in ways we did not anticipated. It is scary to realize that your living situation can completely change in a matter of days. Between school closing, having my children at home, not having internet access, having my work hours cut, financial hardships, and the shortage of essential items, I was at the edge of losing my mind. I am very thankful for the Elementary teacher who told me about JJAB. I contacted a Resource Specialist who taught me about all the local resources that are currently active and helping families who have been affected by COVID-19. The resource specialist helped us get food and essential items, rental, and utility assistance, but most importantly the resource specialist helped us connect to an internet provider that was affordable in my situation. Now we have access to online supports, and all my children are interacting with their teachers, and peers online. Through the program, I am learning a lot about our community’s supports in response to COVID19, and getting “direct and live” assistance in connecting with these resources. I want to encourage parents to reach out to JJAB to inquire how they can help in your situation; their support will bring respite from these difficult times.
We were referred to JJAB this summer when we were uncertain how school was going to move forward. My sons and I usually use the internet services from the library but, since COVID19, there have been unexpected, and irregular events we had to deal with. The Resource Specialist program answered all the questions we had about this pandemic and provided us resources to prepare us with the remote learning phase. It started with a simple request of connecting us to an internet provider; our Resource Specialist sent us a list of all internet providers (available to my address), their best deals, and programs that support low income, and/or single parents like me. We were connected to a reliable internet within a week of starting the Resource Specialist services. Then, we started getting informed on all the programs that were available to my sons such as PEEC, tutoring services, online gaming, and other resources I did not even know existed. It feels nice to have that kind of connection, especially during these rough times when hardly anyone is available to meet with you. I want to encourage other parents to make that connection too! I feel more aware of the services available, but my sons and I are also more involve and feel part of our community.
I got in trouble for a misunderstanding situation and instead of going through Teen Court, I was referred to Restorative Justice. I personally think Restorative Justice is better than going through a different kind of system because it brings you the opportunity to explain your perspective of the issue. I also appreciated hearing from adults that know me from the community and were able to be part of deciding my consequences. It was important to me because usually adults will not believe, and blame anything on teenagers, but when you have people that know you and understand you then the punishment becomes more appropriate. I am glad that instead of shame and guilt, I received support and understanding. I also think it is cool that we get to work with a Resource Specialist because they help you get organized and give you resources to successfully complete the Restorative Justice plan.
I just turned 18 years old, and I am thankful for my experience with JJAB. I became involved with the Resource Specialist program when I was 15 years old. My mother and I heard about the program from my doctor at the Children’s Clinic. I was going to the hospital regularly because I was having a lot of anxiety and depression; because of that I was unable to attend regular school, so I was homeschooled. Back then, I was unmotivated, hopeless, and suicidal; I was having issues with my self-esteem and self- worth, it was difficult to impossible for me to be in social setups, and I was having trouble meeting new people. I am thankful for the resource specialist program because it helped me work on my anxiety and mental health. I liked the connections and relationships I created during my services like my therapist in town, and Ericka at the Teen Center. I am happy I was able to get my GED before 18, and now I am attending college classes at UNMLA! My advice to other youth in Los Alamos is the same one that was given to me when I was hopeless, two heads think better than one!
I learned about JJAB through my role as Teen Court Coordinator. Teen Court is essentially a diversion program for those teens who commit relatively minor offenses in our community. Teen Court relies heavily on JJAB’s support through the programs JJAB provides. Teen Court is able to bring in Resource Specialists, for example, to provide support for kids– and their families—in completing the sanctions imposed by a Teen Court sentencing.
More recently, JJAB has developed a Restorative Justice program which Teen Court utilizes for our more serious offenses, including drug- and alcohol-related crimes. Restorative Justice brings together those who have caused harm through their wrongdoing with those they have directly or indirectly harmed.
JJAB’s Danielle Sutherland provides the leadership through her role as Facilitator in the Restorative Justice conferences. Danielle trained with the International Institute for Restorative Practices, whose work is based on numerous studies that indicate “human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.” This is especially true of the youth population Teen Court serves.
For this population, “reliance on punishment as a social regulator is problematic because it shames and stigmatizes wrongdoers, pushes them into a negative societal subculture and fails to change their behavior.” And because their brains are still developing, on average until age 25, young people get more out of the supportive correction methods JJAB’s Restorative Justice program provides.
One Circle is a place to create friendships, but most importantly a place to create a relationship with yourself. I joined last year and at first I was scared because I did not want to speak out loud in front of people, but I wanted to participate. The facilitator took that pressure from me and did not make me do things I was not comfortable with. However, every time she checked in with me and asked me if I was ready to share; she never stopped not asking nor motivating me to speak up. Finally, one day I felt I was ready to speak aloud and share my views, and luckily the failitator asked me if I was ready. Since then, I like to share my views, I was recently told I went from being quiet to opinionated (in a good way) and most importantly I like me! And that makes me feel that my opinion matters.