November 14, 2017

Here is an innovative program to help teens in crisis. Any of us who have worked with youth know that the punitive way that kids are treated when they get in trouble is not working. Sending kids to detention centers or handing down punishments that do nothing but exacerbate the problem are not the answer. What can we do to teach young adults how and why to act differently? One man in Maryland decided to try something different and it seems to be working.

Surfing Program Teaches Troubled Youths About Integrity

Rich Brueckner sat in his office more than four years ago with a major problem on his mind.

As the senior Assistant State’s Attorney for Wicomico County and a top strategist for heroin reduction in Maryland, Brueckner was responsible for prosecuting primarily gang and narcotic-related crimes throughout the area.

No stranger to his field, Brueckner was still surprised by the age and background of several of the individuals caught with illegal drugs.

Local youths, primarily in the middle school range, were being prosecuted for the use of heroin and other narcotics. As Brueckner watched different students face charges on a weekly basis, he began to wonder what could be done to stop the crisis.

“In my opinion, by the time they got to high school, they’re largely lost — the decisions have been made one way or the other,” Brueckner said. “I was thinking, what can we do other than constantly feed kids into the juvenile justice system?”

Around the same time, Brueckner was reading a book that quickly became the answer to the prosecutor’s looming question.

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