Good things are happening in the state of South Carolina when it comes to juvenile detention numbers. They're going down. A fact that makes the Department of Juvenile Justice very happy.
"It is great to see this change. Its great for the kids, great for the community," said Margaret Barber of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
She says, the 42% drop in incarcerated teens is largely due to the hundreds of volunteers across the state that help out on a regular basis.
"Volunteers are vital," Barber said. "They see these kids realize for the first time that someone cares about them and is making it easier for those kids to go back to their homes."
There are 22 state wide programs that offer help from after school programs, mentoring, and spiritual guidance.
Barber says they help all types of adolescence, those who haven't caused trouble, those who are, and those who have had issues with the community in the past. The programs focus on keeping kids out of trouble and involving them in a work force to give back to the communities they may have damaged.
Barber explains, "If you spray painted graffiti on a wall, why not go and give back to that damaged community by painting over the wall."
The work programs include going to nursing homes, cleaning parks and planting trees. She says that giving these children and teens a sense of purpose and community helps keep them stay on the right track.
And the state is definitely onto something with these programs. Barber says that officials as for as Texas have come to check out South Carolina's methods on lowering juvenile numbers in correction facilities.
"We think its an excellent program, and its really starting to pay off," said Barber.
There are many ways to get involved to help young people in the state. For a complete list of opportunities, visit the Department of Juvenile Justice's web site.