LAKE CONROE — Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts and Pct. 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden recently joined forces with TWELVE STONES, a Conroe based non-profit organization devoted to helping at-risk youth by working with them and their parents or guardians.
On Saturday, TWELVE STONES conducted their “Back in School – TO STAY” program, hosted by La Torretta Resort on Lake Conroe. Judge Metts and Constable Hayden contributed to the event financially and the Judge was a featured speaker. Montgomery County Juvenile Probation helped TWELVE STONES identify youngsters and parents who could most benefit from the program, which offered tools and guidance to get back on the right path to completing their education and becoming productive citizens.
Judge Metts spoke to around 100 parents, using a PowerPoint presentation, imparting wisdom and knowledge gained from his many years on the bench where he has heard over 30,000 juvenile cases. The Judge also spoke to them as a son and father, sharing personal stories. He told parents that children’s basic needs were the same as theirs, from the need for adequate nutritious food, shelter and rest, to the need to feel loved, to express themselves and to have fun and stimulating activities which do not have to cost money, but involve quality family time.
Judge Metts also talked about structure and how important it is to have set rules and consequences; to have schedules, and to be consistent. He also listed multiple warning signs that could be caused by something the child is doing, like drugs, alcohol or other criminal activity, or could be indicative that someone has harmed the child in some way, or even that the child has a chemical imbalance. The Judge repeatedly stressed the importance of communication and a child feeling they could safely tell their parent or parents anything.
Parents received a handout containing excerpts from the Texas Family Code, the Texas Penal Code, and the Texas Education Code that outlines the rights and duties of parents and hopefully, cleared up some misconceptions in several areas, such as the legalities of discipline.
Though some were only present because their attendance was court ordered, the audience was receptive, and several people thanked Judge Metts following his presentation.
“I know these parents love their children, but for whatever reason, there are some problems,” Judge Metts said. “I want them to know we care about their children too, and we want to see them succeed in life, which begins with an education.”
Constable Hayden was unable to attend the Saturday event but said he was glad to contribute to what he believes is part of the solution to the problem of juvenile crime in East Montgomery County.
“We see it again and again,” Constable Hayden said. “Truancy is illegal, and kids who don’t go to school usually wind up committing other crimes too. “
“Unfortunately, it’s often the beginning of a very hard life,” he said.
Sallie Edwards, founder of TWELVE STONES, said the event went well and had even more participants that originally expected.