RCSD offers programs and camps for youth with behavioral issues

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Representatives with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department say if you have a child or teen at home with behavioral issues, RCSD may be able to help.

Lieutenant Terrance Acox has worked with the Youth Services Unit for almost eight years. He says a number of behaviors kids exhibit at home and school leave parents asking for help.

“Our main job here is to keep them out of jail. Our main job here is to keep them out of the cemetery. We want to see them do something positive. Regardless if it’s going to college, going to the military, excelling in sports, anything that’s positive we want them to be able to come back and talk to that same youth and say they sat in that same seat they’re sitting in and ‘Look at me now’,” says Acox.

According to Acox, Youth Services offers a variety of programs aimed to help motivate kids and curb at-risk behaviors through classes and physical activity.

“During the whole time, we’re motivating the kids, we’re not just getting on them, yelling at them, screaming at them.  We’re telling them we’re here with them all the way because we actually want them to trust in us and know we’ll be there for them through the process,” says Acox.

Programs include the “Explorers Post 601” program, the “Jump Start” program,” “Empowerment Academy,” and an arbitration program for one-time nonviolent offenders.

Captain Michael Pearson has been with Youth Services for over two years. He and Acox say the programs are not fear based like previous “Scared Straight” programs, but are meant to uplift the kids through positive reinforcement.

“We have our JUMP and Empowerment (programs) and that’s what we do when we have our family conferences, We like to meet with the families at least twice a month. We go over the good and we go over the bad, the big thing is we want to establish respect in the home, take responsibility for actions — and I’m a parent myself and my kids didn’t come with an instruction manual, so we’re here to help the parents too and give them guidance and resources when it comes to dealing with their situation,” says Pearson.

According to Acox, parents must be just as involved in the programs and undergo a three hour workshop of their own.

“Those families that come in, and stick with the program, they’re consistent whether rain sleet or snow, they actually see changes in their kids,” says Acox.

Youth Services also holds a three day summer program called “Camp Lott” later in June, involving physical activities and classes on goal setting and hygiene.

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