'Pastors seek to assist juvenile probation department'

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The Carson City Ministerial Fellowship is seeking ways to reach into the community to help troubled youths.

At their Thursday meeting, Carson City Juvenile Services Program Coordinator John Simms addressed pastors' questions on how they may help implement prevention and intervention programs.

"It's important to have a faith-based program working with the courts and juvenile department," said Simms. "A team who would work with families as well as the kids."

Simms said Carson City could use a mediation team for youth offenders. A team would meet with the offender as well as victim to discuss the offense that has taken place.

"We have to remember these are kids. Sometimes we forget that and forget they need to be kids. By mediating a situation, each side can find out why the kid did what they did and work on restitution."

Simms added that some kids learn their lesson (after first offense) and they grow up to be good adults. And some don't. Problems facing youth today include having poor role models, methamphetamine use and single-parent homes.

The Carson City Juvenile Probation Department offers a Sunday service and Thursday youth group. Each youth is offered a Bible upon entry; it is the youth's choice whether or not to accept it.

"It's not mandatory for the kids to attend service or youth group," said Simms. "But most of them do."

With a Crisis Response Team already in place for emergency situations such as the Columbine High School incident, the Rev. Patrick Propster asked Simms if it would be possible to have a trained and certified pastor as part of the team.

"We want to have our names and numbers made available so we can be called upon in a similar situation," said Propster. "We want to be able to help in times of need."

Simms spoke Thursday afternoon with Carson High School psychologist Dr. Keith Croskery, who is a member of the CRT.

"Dr. Croskery said it is suggested (in guidelines) a member of the clergy be a part of the Crisis Response Team," said Simms. "The pastors will be called and invited to next week's meeting."

Propster said there is a need for counseling and direction with the students, and the ministerial fellowship needs to know how to reach out to them. But at the same time, ministers understand their limitations under the separation of church and state.


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