SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- The best way for law enforcement to handle youth issues in communities is to find out from youth exactly what is causing those issues.
Some of the more unique members of the Hampden County District Attorney’s team — are teenagers. Thursday morning high schoolers from across the region presented research from the past year to their community and school leaders.
The Youth Advisory Board helps law enforcement because it gives them a clearer idea of some of the real problems young students and teens are worried about today. Then police officers, teachers, and other adults in their community can give those kids the tools and resources they need to address some of the issues.
Issues like internet safety — preventing bullying online, and also protecting privacy.
“It’s a big problem. Kids think it’s harmless to send anything and put information online. They really never know who’s watching,” said Tony Simmons, the director of Community Safety and Outreach for the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.
“I realized we were doing real stuff and changing kids lives. It’s much more effective when kids like me and my peers explain the dangers and risks of internet as opposed to adults who stands there and lectures them,” said board member Kyle Richmond-Crosset.
Parents told 22News they’re thankful these conversations have started.
“There are just so many things kids are exposed to now that are out there in the world, more than we were. I feel like we were sheltered compared to what they deal with,” said Monson parent Laura Wright.
The Youth Advisory Board also researched dropout prevention. They spoke to their peers and younger students about what they like and dislike about school, and how it could be improved.