A Russell County judge charged with hearing juvenile cases noticed that there was a common thread that ran through many of those cases.
“The overwhelming majority of the children who come before the Juvenile Court are from one-parent or no-parent homes,” said District Court Judge Buster Landreau.
The judge began looking for a solution and on Wednesday he signed a memorandum of understanding with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley to provide mentoring services with juveniles who come before the court.
The purpose of the partnership between the court and Big Brothers Big Sisters is to reduce juvenile delinquency, alcohol and drug use, truancy and other risk behaviors.
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Landreau has been on the bench for 18 months and worked in the Russell County District Attorney’s officer as a prosecutor prior to that. When he became a judge, Landreau began looking for ways to expand the number of mentors. He talked to a number of community and faith-based organizations looking for a solution.
Children who are mentored are more likely to avoid trouble, according to the organization’s statistics:
46 percent are less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27 percent are less likely to begin using alcohol
52 percent are less likely to skip school
37 percent are less likely to skip class
33 percent are less likely to hit someone
Big Brothers Big Sisters has agreed to provide long-term, one-on-one mentoring to at-risk children between the ages of 6-18. Big Brothers Big Sisters will also work with other agencies to provide the needed services, Landreau said.
The court will refer high-risk juveniles to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“I wish to stress this is a beginning and not an end,” Landreau said. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is simply a part of the solution to the needs of our children. Phenix City and Russell County will continue to need community and faith-based organizations to help meet the needs of our children.”