Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) in cooperation with The Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, is re-instilling empathy into teens with a revolutionary approach to curing violence – the Teaching Love and Compassion Program for Juvenile Offenders (jTLC)™.
In a two-day, court-mandated course – a condition of probation for some juvenile offenders –teens are paired with shelter dogs and offered intensive sessions designed to help at-risk youth identify and break the cycle of violence. The jTLC candidates are carefully selected by the District Attorney’s Office along with the Juvenile Court judges.
“jTLC is a different approach with teens who are entering the juvenile system,” says spcaLA President, Madeline Bernstein. “These kids learn coping and anger management skills and gain self-esteem. With the help of our shelter dogs, we instill in them compassion and empathy – which steers them into a more positive direction.”
For the last two years, spcaLA has pilot-tested the jTLC program with juvenile offenders from communities like Long Beach and Sylmar. 80% of the offenders have avoided trouble and not reoffended. jTLC is unique to spcaLA and Los Angeles County. Other communities, like New York City, have inquired about the program and how they can introduce it into their own juvenile systems.