Judge Glenda Hatchett was interviewed by Black Enterprise.com and discussed why everyone should be committed to nurturing today's youth:
Q. You've been on the bench since 1990, beginning in Georgia's juvenile court system. During your tenure, what behaviors were most common?
"Most people would be surprised to find out that truancy is the No.1 predictor among boys that they are going to have a criminal record, and the No. 2 predictor among girls. But in terms of the actual caseload, we had an explosive number of children involved in drug dealing."
Q. You're a big advocate of prevention and intervention. How does your approach work compared with typical punishments?
"Well, when the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, I went to a group of local business leaders and said, "I need jobs. I need jobs for my kids in juvenile court. I need them to also be the beneficiaries of the coming economic boom." And I will tell you, that summer we had a decrease in juvenile crime because my kids were working. We have got to figure how we can provide opportunities for children so that they don't end up in juvenile courts like mine throughout the country. Once they do get to me, then I've got to figure out how I can keep them from further penetrating the system. That's when I do the interventions."
Q. What can we do?
"A lot of people think, "I can't impact someone's life." But you can. What we really need are people to do hands-on mentoring. There is an extremely long waiting list at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters, particularly for African American children. In Atlanta alone, we have 1,000 boys right now—today—who are waiting to be paired with a mentor. So think about what it must be like across the country. We need people! And for people who can't mentor, pull out your checkbook and sign someone up for Little League, pay for piano lessons, send kids to camp. We've got to think not just about the children in our home, but how we can impact people that we know."
Read the entire interview here.
Judge Hatchett's website
Become a mentor here.