James Bell Draws Hundreds to Town Hall

James Bell speaks to Watsonville community.

Last Monday night, more than 200 parents, students, law enforcement officers, educators, community workers, and city officials packed the Mello Center in Watsonville, CA to hear James discuss the non-judicial drivers into the youth justice system and the implications for schools and communities.

James highlighted a few main ideas in his discussion:

Schools must not punish children for their age appropriate behavior. Children should be treated with empathy. When you close the door on a young person of color, you are shutting them out of any future opportunity to experience systemic empathy.

The juvenile justice system is not designed to meet the needs of children. It is not at all empathetic – its job is to protect public safety. The system is antithetical to normal adolescent development and will only produce a cycle of punishment, NOT education.

Children of color and low-income children deserve the right to an education. When we give up on a child’s education in a knowledge-based society such as ours, we are making determinations about who will be the servers and who will be the served; who will be the keepers and who will be the kept.

The event was sponsored by the Watsonville Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, along with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, United Way, Santa Cruz Probation, Watsonville Police Department, Peace & Unity Coalition and the Community Action Board. Volunteers from the Cadets and Youth City Council also participated in this great collaborative effort.

Click here for press coverage of the town hall in the Santa Cruz Sentinel!

Call to Action.

James with Watsonville student leaders