District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced the creation of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Council, which will meet regularly throughout the school year to give Hayden’s office insight into issues such as youth violence, gun possession, bullying, peer pressure, and substance abuse.
Applications for the council are available on the SCDAO website. Hayden is encouraging high school-aged teens throughout Suffolk County to apply.
The council will augment the office’s other juvenile-focused initiatives, such as the Juvenile Alternative Resolution (JAR) program, which provides diversion options to eligible juvenile offenders.
“We are always seeking to better understand the factors that lead some of our young people down dangerous paths. We want to ensure that our youth have the resources and support in our communities to be safe. A helpful tool in doing so is to hear directly from them. We’ve seen over the past few weeks some disturbing incidents involving violence committed by teens, including attacks on strangers and on police, and other young people being harmed. Our hope is to hear directly from our young residents what they think might be contributing to these types of behaviors and experiences. Arraigning young people on criminal charges is, sadly, something we sometimes need to do, but never something we want to do,” Hayden said.
Members of Hayden’s community engagement team and juvenile unit will guide the council discussions and solicit participation and input from members on the array of issues facing teens throughout the county. Recent societal events have presented teens with particular challenges, Hayden said.
“The COVID pandemic has had a unique impact on today’s young people. Put simply, teenagers in Boston and Suffolk County—and across America—have had their lives impacted in ways unlike any other time in our history, and our goal is to learn directly from them the pressures they face on a daily basis. The Youth Advisory Council will not only provide our youth with an opportunity to voice concerns, but can empower them to take on a greater initiative. We’re hoping their insight will help us develop approaches that keep teens away from behavior that can short-circuit their futures,” Hayden said.