Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey wants to take a parenting class statewide. The Sheriff and State Attorney Phil Archer have been working with a Time to Be a Parent Again program that includes having prison inmates talk with parents about how the inmates got on the road to jail.
Ivey says interest in the program has grown from attracting “seven grandparents” in a room to an audience of more than 300 people. The current state budget includes a $50,000 grant to refine the program through a pilot program in Brevard, Polk, Osceola and Seminole counties.
The idea takes the scared straight initiatives of the 1970s a step further. Ivey explained at a Tallahassee news conference attended by Brevard County lawmakers, Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner, that Time to Be a Parent Again has a fear element to it but also includes parenting skills and techniques, explains the rights of parents to discipline and hold their children accountable.
“Our goal is to empower parents, to get to parents to get to their child and keep them from committing a crime. We can’t do it ourselves.”
The program includes a component where parents may question a panel that includes up to eight jail inmates. Parents are allowed to ask any question they like. Ivey said the discussion often leads participants to ask at what point did an inmate’s life turn to crime.
Ivey said a common thread is “association” with the wrong elements.
“Parents need to help their kids pick with whom they associate,” said Ivey.
A Time to Be a Parent Again presentation includes an hour-long philosophical discussion about the challenges facing parents and different parenting approaches, the legalities of disciplining a child, what constitutes abuse, and concludes with the questioning of prisoners.
“This is a step in building the puzzle (to solve crime),” said Ivey. “It has a little bit of fear, it includes life skills, builds on other programs (designed) to get to the kids before they get to crime.”
Ivey intends the for the four-county pilot program to be a step toward a state-wide program. He thanked the speaker and Senate president for the money and their support. Neither presiding officer took questions during the news conference.