Forum to discuss the choices and consequences that youths face

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 15, 2019

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Teens and tweens are a work in progress, trying to find themselves and making mistakes along the way. But those mistakes sometimes carry major repercussions. 

An upcoming panel discussion will examine the pressures that they face, and what’s at stake. The event, titled “Real Life Choices — Dangerous Consequences for Parents, Teens & Tweens,” is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at the Madison Heights Fire Department’s training room, located at 31313 Brush St. in Madison Heights.

The event is co-sponsored by Madison Heights Youth Assistance and the Madison Heights Community Coalition. MHYA provides counseling to divert juvenile offenders out of the court system, while the MHCC educates the community to put “protective factors” in place for today’s youths.

“This program is a protective factor, as the information that parents and students receive should encourage youth to make positive decisions for their future,” said Kimberly Heisler, executive director of the MHCC. 

Among the panelists will be Paul T. Walton, chief assistant with the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office; Rich Isaacson, a retired special agent with the  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Gwendolyn Bammel, supervisor at Eastwood Recovery Center, Ascension Health; and Tim Hurst, a police officer at the Madison Heights Police Department. 

Together, they will discuss such areas of concern for youths including adolescent brain development; common law-breaking mistakes of young people; consequences of a juvenile arrest and conviction; dangerous trends involving drugs and alcohol use by youths; adolescent mental health and substance use warning signs; and school safety.  

This is the first time this event is being held in Madison Heights. A similar event was previously held by Lakes Youth Assistance, which serves families in the school districts of Walled Lake, Commerce Township, Wolverine Lake, Wixom and several others. 

Deborah Lindsey, the caseworker for MHYA, said the program was started to provide parents and youths with accurate and relevant information for making good choices in tough situations. 

“These situations can cause them to become involved in the court system, in trouble at school, or to put their mental and physical health in danger,” Lindsey said. “Behaviors such as substance use, cyberbullying, sexting, curfew violation, incorrigibility and more are also often adolescent behaviors that youth and sometimes even parents are just not aware of the full potential consequences. They may know they are wrong choices, but they are not always aware of what the actual school, legal, physical and mental health consequences may be.

“We hope to increase their understanding of what the actual consequences to those poor choices can be, so they can better navigate those situations,” she said. “In doing so, we hope they can avoid making choices that could cause them to be suspended or expelled from school, be charged or found guilty, and possibly incurring a record that may impact their future or (result in) probation and fines. Those consequences can also bring tremendous emotional and financial hardship to families.”

Amy Schroder, the MHYA board secretary and family recreation chair, said she appreciates the MHCC’s collaboration on this event.

“When our youth have accurate information to base their decisions on, and parents and guardians feel empowered to be that sounding board and guardrail that youth need, our families and our community are safer and healthier,” Schroder said.  

For more information about this event, call (248) 589-6860 or (248) 837-2665.

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