» By Rachel Oakley
Guest Writer

The Montgomery County Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Task Force hosted the third annual Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice at the UC on Saturday, April 20. The conference focused on preventing juvenile delinquency and included panels, discussions and presentations as well as a banquet.

The conference’s goals are aimed at the prevention of juvenile delinquency through increasing awareness of the issues that exist in today’s world. The programs and resources are made available to the general public and are designed for parents, youth, college students, law officials, teachers and concerned individuals alike.

Each presentation, booth, and conference section educated attendees on such subjects as gang activity, delinquency patterns and statistics, and bullying. All of which gave listeners the tools and information to know how to begin preventing these instances at an early age for the child.

A speaker from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. was the special guest speaker for this year.

Many other presentations took place as well, including the Rachel’s Challenge presentation, returning from last year. This presentation honors Rachel Scott, the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Since her death, her parents, friends and advocates for the cause have been traveling the country with their powerful video and audio footage of Rachel’s life, as well as the Columbine tragedy. Rachel’s Challenge aims to motivate students, parents and the world to take a stand and make a positive change.

Many in attendance were impressed by the mission and focus of the program.

“It was wonderful,” said attendee Susan Elrod. “I went last year. I enjoyed it so much and I wish more people knew about it. I would love to see the word get out even more.”
Others have been following the event from the beginning, and were pleased to see it thriving more each year.

“The event is actually growing at the rate that they had expected, which is encouraging.” said Servella Terry.“The presentations are very appropriate, and the presenters are very dynamic as well.”

Over 200 participates and attendees and 20 organizations were present at last year’s event.

“This is a program that is excellent for children,” said Treva Gordon. “I believe it could expand, so that all the schools in the area could get involved.”

One speaker in the conference, Tommy Vallejos, focused on gang violence and activity in his presentations to raise awareness. He also focused on gang prevention, giving parents, students and teachers alike some valuable tools. His presentations were based around an education and extracurricular activities starting at a young age for students.

“We have got to tell these kids that there is a dream.” Vallejos said.

“We need to get them to a place where they can also go live their dream.”