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Anti-violence programs show consequences

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County youths can see what happens after a bad decision, in two violence-prevention events this week.

On Tuesday night, a team of Decatur lawyers,calling themselves the "Watchdogs for Justice," will be at TOPS Youth & Family Enrichment Center performing interactive skits about the juvenile justice system.

On Saturday, Juvenile Judge Steve Teske is opening up his courtroom with a "simulation" of the juvenile justice system and he's answering questions about "what happens after you commit a crime."

Both events come as part of the Stop the Violence Campaign, an effort started by TOPS founder, Lesia Johnson. The program, began in January and run through May, and is intended to introduce the county's youths to the reality of violence, the possibilities of peace, and the choices they will have to make between violence and peace.

A key part of the prevention program, according to Johnson and Teske, is engaging kids, rather than lecturing to them, and working to develop concepts of consequences.

"We want to bring in real life -- Once this bad decision happens, what are the next steps," Johnson said.

In the first month and a half, the campaign has gained some public support and sponsorships, including donations of dinner from Papa John's Pizza, Boston's The Gourmet Pizza, and Publix Super Market, Johnson said.

The Tuesday event, with Hawks Law Firm answering youth-related legal questions and performing skits, will be held at TOPS, 2739 Mt. Zion Parkway, in Rex, from 5 to 7 p.m. Dinner will be provided.

The Saturday event, hosted by Teske, will be held at the Clayton County Historic Courthouse, Annex 3, 121 South McDonough Street. The event starts at noon, and rides will be leaving from TOPS at 11 a.m.

For more information on enrolling children in the free programs, or participating in the Stop the Violence Campaign, call (770) 473-4919.