Bradley County Juvenile Court and the local chapter of Kiwanis International have a shared goal of helping children in the community, according to Coby Goins, probation officer for the alternative schools in Cleveland and Bradley County.
Goins said he enjoys his job, and actually has fun.
“The reason that it’s fun for me is because I get to jump into the middle of whatever problems they’re having, and I get to help them,” Goins said.
His goal is to give students hope and to show them love while helping them get back on track. Goins said discipline is a part of that.
“The root word of discipline is disciple, and I disciple them, ’cause I’ve been discipled my whole life. So I want to disciple these kids,” Goins said.
The community of Cleveland and Bradley County cares about helping children, Goins said. He moved back to Cleveland after living in Texas for a few years because he missed the community. The way to ensure a good future for the children of this community is to give them time, love, hope and teach them to do what is right, according to Goins.
Showing hope to students who have gotten in trouble consists of teaching them what the right thing to do is, and showing them how they can change, according to Goins. He said many times hope and love are foreign concepts to students in juvenile court. Many have been told they cannot change their situation.
“My main thing is to make sure a kid always understands that they can be successful in whatever they want to do,” Goins said.
By ensuring that children have hope for the future the juvenile court helps ensure a better future for the community. The number of juvenile arrests in the county has been decreasing, Goins said. In 2008, more than 300 arrests were made, in 2009 there were less than 300 and in 2010 less than 200.
Goins said the success of the program stems from the relationships formed with the students and their families. The success of the program is also in being proactive by going into the schools rather than waiting for a student or family to ask for help.
Through his job as a probation officer, Goins said he helps children follow the 12 rules of probation and add structure to their lives. Sometimes this is an uphill battle, and the student violates probation. He said probation is primarily about showing the students that they are responsible for their actions.
The court has also recently adopted a new mission statement.
“It is —to establish community relationships and provide safety by assessing the needs of the family through intervention, accountability and rehabilitation with the goal of restoring the family system,” Goins said.
Juvenile court is overseen by director Terry Gallaher. Judge Daniel Swafford serves as judge over the court proceedings.
The juvenile court system in Bradley County is broken into four different courts. These include campus court, family court, juvenile delinquent court and juvenile drug court.
“Campus court actually meets inside the school,” Goins said. Goins said this program finds problems in students’ lives as they are starting to develop, then tries to help the students resolve them.
“Bradley County is way ahead of all the counties that surround us (in dealing with truancy),” Goins said.
If the campus courts are unsuccessful, the student is taken to family court and help is offered through the juvenile court’s behavioral unit. The juvenile delinquent court is where students are charged with adults crimes. The drug court serves students who have been charged with drug crimes.