[The following column appeared in the February 2010 Campaign for Youth Justice e-newsletter, and is reprinted with permission. It has been edited slightly to incorporate hyperlinks into the text. - Ed.]
The Campaign for Youth Justice recently released a guide for families who want to do something to change the foolish and ineffective practice of trying our children as adults. Our new guide is entitled, "Families in Power: Family Guide to Networking, Coalition Building, Organizing and Campaign Building." The guide provides basic information about how families and allies can begin to organize themselves and others to change transfer practices and other overly punitive policies that negatively affect our children and our communities.
Here is one highlight from this new guide:
The first step in creating powerful families and organizing others is developing a way to talk about your issue with a wide variety of audiences. Many organizers refer to this as your "rap." Your rap about the transfer of children into the adult correctional and court systems should be your 30-second commercial that is designed to open up dialogue with others. It should include: a fact or two about youth transfer in order to educate people who may not know about transfer laws, why this is issue is important to you, and what you need from the person you are talking to. Be sure you have your facts down and that they are accurate. There are several fact sheets on the Campaign's website that can help you easily identify important facts. The best fact sheet to use summarizes the findings of CFYJ's Jailing Juveniles report and speaks to the danger children face in jails every day in this country.