The Georgia Juvenile Services Association (GJSA) recently wrapped its 2012 Training Summit in Savannah, Ga., an annual chance for juvenile court workers from across the state to share knowledge, network and blow off steam away from the daily pressures and demands of their often stressful work.
GJSA members include employees at all levels of the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice, juvenile courts, county departments of family and children services and other organizations dedicated to helping children.
Giving the keynote address Aug. 22 was Georgia’s former Child Advocate, Tom Rawlings, who spoke about lessons he has learned from his current job as Director of International Justice Mission’s Guatemala field office. There, Rawlings manages “a multidisciplinary team of attorneys, investigators, social works and psychiatrists which essentially acts as a combination district attorney’s office and child advocacy center,” he said. In partnership with the government, his team prosecutes child abuse cases and treats the victims.
Rawlings, who spoke no Spanish before arriving in Guatemala, found he had to adjust his tactics to fit the complicated political and social situation he would now be navigating. Below, Rawlings briefly describes his work in Guatemala and the challenges he faced.