That’s exactly why students like Agawam High School Junior Kraeg Sheehan got involved the Youth Development Task Force. “My sister, who’s in 4th grade has social media things where she can chat with friends. I didn’t have any of those things when I was in 4th and 5th grade. Just seeing that children nowadays do have this communication, it’s kind of scary, just, you don’t know what’s out there,” he said.
At Springfield’s Mass Mutual Center, Hampden County District attorney Mark Mastroianni held the meeting. The task force is a part of his Community Based Juvenile Justice Program.
The force is made up of high school students from all 4 counties who advise the DA’s office on issues that are important to them.
While internet safety is the presentation’s main focus, they also tackle truancy and abuse prevention.
Teens say they’re happy to spread the word to middle school students who are more likely to open up to them than adults. “I think the relationship we’ve built with them is important because we do know more and we’ve spoken to the adults, but we’re still kids. We can relate to them. It wasn’t that long ago that we were in the same position,” said Cathedral High School Junior Rachael Mahoney. “I think it’s really cool that we’re recognized for what we do because it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the community,” Sheehan added.
“They’re just all success stories. They’re a great group of kids and our district is full of kids like this, and we want to highlight that,” DA Mastroianni smiled.
Both Sheehan and Mahoney say they love it so much, they’ll continue mentoring during their senior year
In January, a state task force was started in Boston.
Though still in its infancy, the Hampden DA’s office is involved as a representative.