It all started with officials from the Buckeye Police Department sitting down together, looking for different topics they believed would be relevant to the community’s needs.
From those sit-down meetings was born a program, through which the department hopes to educate parents about what’s going on in teenagers’ lives.
Called the Guardian Academy, the program is geared toward anyone who has care of a child and provides them with insightful knowledge and guidance on current teenage trends and challenges. It takes place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday night from September 10 to October 1.
Sgt. Jason Weeks, a school resource officer, said, “It’s all about education. We need to start educating the parents more on what’s going on out there.”
Weeks said he’s worked with parents who don’t understand how their child became problematic.
“There’s a need for a program like this in Buckeye. Being the school resource supervisor, I deal with parents all the time who will call me after one of their kids gets in trouble and they don’t understand how they got to that point.” Weeks said. “We’re going to talk to them (parents); we’re going to educate the parents on what issues are plaguing their kids nowadays.”
During these sessions, speakers who are experts on different subjects will deliver PowerPoint presentations.
“They’re also going to get a list of community resources available to them, too, so that way, after this academy, they start having issues with their juvenile and they can go ahead and have places to go,” Weeks said.
The topics of discussion range, so attendees can expect a diverse educational experience.
“We’re going to be talking about suicide prevention and the warning signs. We’re going to be talking about drug trends because there are certain types of drugs the parents don’t understand,” Weeks said. “We’re also going to talk about social media usage and how it can harm not only their child, but it can harm their parent in the process as well.”
Other topics will include teen dating and violence, as well as how to cultivate and manage a healthy relationship between parent and teenager.
The Buckeye Police Department is only the second department to have implemented a program like this in the country, with Chandler having been the first. Buckeye Police spokeswoman Donna Rossi said that after BPD saw the program’s success in Chandler, they decided to bring it to their own city.
“Chief Larry Hall is a very progressive chief, and he saw this program and said, ‘I want this for our kids.’ We’re just excited that we get to empower our parents,” Rossi said. “Chandler was the only department in the country doing a program like this and we are only the second, so I think that is pretty unique for a small department like ours.”
Weeks said programs like this are important because of the new dynamics modern families have. He recalled that during his childhood, family dinner was almost an everyday activity. But today, with the difficult schedules of two working parents in a household, it can become a challenge to spend time with children and be aware of what is happening in their lives.
Weeks also wants the city of Buckeye to know that its police want to play an active role, even in moments that are not emergency-based.
“I want them to know that the Buckeye Police Department is a progressive department and we care about our community. We want to do more community involvement,” Weeks said. “We don’t want to be the police department where the only time you see us is when we come to your door for something bad. We want you to come in and talk to us and meet with us and learn something good before something bad happens.”
To apply to Guardian Academy, visitbuckeyeaz.gov.