The forum, hosted by the DeKalb Lawyers Association, Commissioner Larry Johnson and mentoring project Preparing Innovative Leaders of Tomorrow, kicks off at 8:30 a.m.
It will offer high school students ages 14 to 18 opportunities to discuss stereotypes and legal situations that teens can find themselves in. It includes a panel discussion with prosecutors and youth advocates and opportunities to network with attorneys.
DLA President Dionne McGee said the adults are prepared to listen to youth.
“So many times there are thought-provoking programs with good intentions, but what you end up with are professional people preaching to children instead of there being an interactive discussion,” she said.
McGee said they want to hear from teens and offer advice and resources to help them make a positive impact on their schools and communities. Parents are also invited.
The break-out sessions are “Could You Be Trayvon Martin?” and “Don’t Get Caught Up.”
Trayvon, a Florida teen, was shot to death on Feb. 26, 2011, three weeks after his 17th birthday. He was accosted by Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman because he was wearing a hoodie and was killed in a scuffle between them. Trayvon’s death sparked a national debate on racism and stereotypes.
McGee said that whether or not you agree with the way a lot of young people dress and the influence of hip-hop culture, many factors can get them caught up in situations that they don’t deserve to be in.
The Decatur attorney said DLA wants to address stereotypes and give teens a lesson on the criminal justice system.
“A lot of people don’t understand why Mr. Zimmerman hasn’t been brought to justice yet,” she said. “We want to explain the process of how the case is going through the courts on a level they understand.”
“Don’t Get Caught Up” will focus on the legal ramifications of statutory rape. Teens will participate in role-playing activities and discuss possible outcomes of compromising situations. McGee said the incidence of older teens having sex with a minor, whether they know their age or not, is on the rise.
“Something happens and then dad or mom calls the police, and then they’re charged with statutory rape even though she was a willing participant,” she said.
Panelists are Ebony Phillips, community prosecutor with the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office; Sherrell Anderson with Teens What’s the Rush; Jay Bailey of Operation HOPE Atlanta; and Gregory Adams with the D.R.I.L.L. Youth Mentoring Program.
Exchange Park is at 2771 Columbia Drive. R.S.V.P. is required – contact 404-549-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.