This year, the Global Youth Justice Conference was held in Las Vegas, NV. The multi-day conference included teen court agencies, peer jury diversion programs, court officials, and other youth intervention organizations from across the country.
What is the Global Youth Justice Court?
The Global Youth Justice Court is a youth-focused organization that oversees “[more than 1800] youth justice and juvenile diversion programs called Teen Court, Youth Court, Student Court, Peer Court and Peer Jury.” The driving idea behind the Global Youth Justice Movement is the power of positive peer pressure; delinquent and criminal behavior are addressed in a peer-judgment setting led by youth, in an effort to move towards a restorative approach versus a punitive one.
On a scientific level, positive peer pressure checks out. A recent study by Laurence Steinberg of Temple University found that the brains of teenagers showed activity in regions associated with rewards when they were around their peers. Follow up studies by Steinberg and his team also found that adolescents “learn more quickly and more effectively when their peers are present.” This effectively proves that peer pressure does not necessarily have to be a negative thing.
As a youth-oriented program ourselves, Education Lifeskills attended the 2020 Global Youth Justice Conference. Safety precautions were taken prior to and during the event to ensure safety. Richard Long, ACCI Partnership Manager, and Trevor Lloyd ACCI President were both in attendance at the conference. They had the opportunity to present on the Education Lifeskills program, the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach we take, and the successes we have seen in reducing recidivism (or re-offending) rates in schools that we work with. We truly believe that addressing faulty thinking patterns with a restorative approach can help to stem the school-to-prison pipeline.
Youth prevention and recidivism reduction is something we are passionate about, and we are always happy to associate with and learn from others with the same enthusiasm.
Many students are experiencing increased stress levels right now. A survey by BestColleges found that 78% of households with a high school or college student experienced disruptions due to COVID-19. Of those affected by COVID-19, 81% cited that they were experiencing increased stress. These feelings of stress and anxiety can stem from uncertainty about the present and future. Know that you are not alone, and there are ways to manage and cope with these feelings in healthy ways.
As an additional resource, Education Lifeskills is offering a COVID-19 micro-course designed to assist students overcome the many issues associated with returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out here!
1. Acknowledge Yourself
You have likely felt the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, and this may affect how or even when you return to school. You may have had feelings of worry, uncertainty, or disappointment. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to validate these feelings. Acknowledge the concerns that you may have and understand that these feelings are a response to events happening around you, and it is normal and understandable to have them. Acknowledgment is the first step to managing your stress in a healthy way.
2. Stay informed, but don’t panic
With a lot of information circulating about the coronavirus, it can be easy to get lost in the whirl of information. Trying to discern between fact and fiction can be difficult, causing anxiety and fear. However, the anecdote to fear is knowledge. When we know what to expect, we can be better prepared.
The CDC has published guidelines to help you with best practices for school and travel. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Be mindful of others by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when possible.
3. Schedule Digital Down Time
Information over-load is a thing. Everyday, we are bombarded with information, and a lot of static noise; videos, photos, tweets, likes, messages, and more. While it is good to stay informed, constant monitoring of updates can quickly turn counterproductive, and become a source of anxiety. Schedule some digital down time to help prevent becoming overwhelmed i.e. no phones/media between the 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
4. Know Your Limits
Though knowledge is key to preparation, these do not guarantee the elimination of stress. Check in with yourself regularly to gauge how you are doing mentally and emotionally. Take care of yourself by taking breaks throughout the day or week as needed.
If your challenges have led to substantial mental health problems, consider seeking professional help.
5. Take care of your mind and body
When you find yourself getting overwhelmed with concerns and negativity, mindfulness is a good way to manage your stress. Mindfulness encourages awareness and acceptance.
Anxiety is often caused by ruminating over negative thoughts about the past or the future. Mindfulness focuses on grounding ourselves in the present. Try this simple, yet effective, exercise. It works to calm our irrational thoughts and allow our rational brain to refresh.
Do something for your body, such as exercise or some form of physical activity. Physical activity is a natural relaxation technique for our bodies. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercising helps to “exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.”
This does not necessarily mean that you have to sweat it out at the gym or run five miles in order to de-stress (although you can if you would like). Sometimes it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, or to the park. With more schools opting for online and/or remote learning, getting outside can create a much-needed change in scenery, and relax the strain on your body and mind.
7. Focus on what you can control
There are a lot of things outside of our control, especially during this time of upheaval. We cannot control how others act or behave, or even what the future may be like. Part of the human experience is the need to know and understand, so it may be difficult to accept that there are things we cannot control. However, if we do not recognize and accept that we cannot control everything, we will inevitably wound up feeling drained, anxious, and miserable.
Rather than fixating on what you cannot control, focus on what you can control. For example, you cannot control how others behave but you can control your actions. You can stay informed, be mindful of yourself, and of others by following guidelines recommended by public health officials.
Boundaries – Teen Dating Violence Prevention is a cognitive awareness course designed to help teens become safer and more aware of their own and others’ boundaries. It is written in a story format as it follows individual lives and consequences of both victims and perpetrators. It is also a short course on Constitutional rights that protect people from abuse and their pursuits of happiness. It is one of several short courses that all come together to help teens navigate the many difficult obstacles they face and stay out of harm’s way into adulthood.
Bullying Prevention is a cognitive lifeskills course for students written in a story format that follows the lives of those being bullied and and those doing the bullying. The course highlights the consequences for both the victim and perpetrator. The objective is to demonstrate the serious problems associated with bullying in its many forms. The course defines bullying and helps students become self-aware of their potential to bully or become a victim of bullying.
This is an evidence-based course that demonstrates the risks of substance abuse for high school students and teenagers. It is based on over 30 years of working with juvenile substance abuse offenders. This course follows the lives of real individuals that have struggled with their chemical addictions demonstrating their victories and defeats. The course is presented in 4 units and takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to complete.
Boundaries – Teen Dating Violence Prevention is a cognitive awareness course designed to help teens become safer and more aware of their own and other boundaries. It is written in a story format as it follows individual lives and consequences of both victims and perpetrators. It is also a short course on the Constitutional rights that protect people from abuse and their pursuits to happiness. It is one of several short courses that all come together to help teens navigate the many difficult obstacles they face and stay out of harms way into adulthood.
This course is written in a story format and focuses on interpersonal and job seeking skills that can be used for a lifetime. Most high school students and teenagers have the physical skills to become successful at work but are often deficient in the cognitive life skills that must come first for teenage employment. If students never elevate their thinking, they can never elevate their behavior. This course is delivered in 4 units and takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to complete.
This cognitive lifeskills course for school students was written in a story format and demonstrates the warnings and dangers of the internet. Internet safety helps students understand social footprints and take more caution and personal responsibility for their online behavior. The course includes sections on cyber-bullying, video game addiction, and social media. It is a timely course for naïve, immature teenagers who are not fully cognizant and a wake-up call for parents. This course is presented in 4 units and takes approximately 4 to 6 hours to complete.
This Leadership course for teens focuses on the cognitive thinking skills that develop good leadership skills and how these skills can influence others in a positive way. It is a work of historical fiction as it follows the lives of Marty and others as they learn and implement the principles and top tier requirements for leading and influencing others. The course discusses the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that can limit progress and offers simple and direct solutions. The course also demonstrates how the principles of leadership can be used in daily life to enhance personal progress in all areas of life, including academic success.