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Court interns get teen dating advice from Brooklyn DA’s Office

July 11, 2019 By Caroline Ourso
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The Kings County court system’s Summer Youth Employment Program is not just about exposing the interns to the workings of the legal system, but also training them to be well-rounded employees, which is why it hosted a teen dating workshop with a member of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Dozens of teenagers listened as Amanda Simon, a teen services coordinator and social worker for the DA’s Office, engaged them with practical dating advice and warning signs of abusive or unhealthy relationships.

“This particular workshop I felt was extremely valuable because so many young people witness unhealthy relationships and believe it is normal,” said Charmaine Johnson, who runs the court’s internship program.

(L-R) Amanda Simon, Phoebe Kelleher, Nia Robinson and Charmaine Johnson smile after a teen dating workshop presented by Simon inside the Kings County Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Simon, who has worked for the Brooklyn DA’s Office since 2013, and regularly gives these presentations to schools and individual families, focused on warning signs. She also went into detail with the interns about what constitutes an abusive relationship.

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“Manipulation is really hard to see at the time,” said Simon, emphasizing that there are red flags that you can learn.

If your partner is extremely jealous and possessive, inappropriately older, isolates you or pressures you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with, it’s an unhealthy relationship and should be re-evaluated, Simon stated.

Amanda Simon talks to interns about teen dating and healthy relationships inside the Kings County Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Differences in values should also be considered.

“Plenty of times, I see young men and women come in who are totally together,” Simon said. “They have a job, they’re in school, but the person they’re dating can be found on the corner of X and Y all day and night.

“They’re not in school; they’re not doing anything. So, it’s like, why are you dating someone so different from you with such a different goal?”

Interns smile after a teen dating workshop presented by Amanda Simon inside the Kings County Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 9.

Simon reminded the students that equality in emotional investment is extremely important in a healthy relationship.

“You can’t work hard enough to fix the relationship for both of you,” she said. “You shouldn’t settle for someone who doesn’t care about you, and they should show you through their behavior, not just give you words.”

“You should be supporting each other,” she added.

Simon ended her presentation by encouraging anyone who needs help always to feel comfortable contacting her office and by reiterating her main goals as a social worker for teen survivors of dating violence.

“We’re not there to judge so much as figure out what’s really happening,” she said. “We’re there really to talk about what’s going on, what we can do to help and make sure they understand their options in the criminal justice system and outside.”

“I am grateful to Amanda Simon and her colleagues that came to the Supreme Court to bring the awareness of the Teen Dating Violence Workshop to our summer youth workers,” Johnson said. “Giving teens guidance in defining what a healthy relationship looks like and what an unhealthy relationship looks like was an eye-opener to our teens.”

The Summer Youth Employment Program has hosted similar programs since 2016. Johnson explained that the reason they do programs that don’t directly relate to the court itself is because they want the interns to take something positive away from the experience even if they don’t look to the legal community for their careers.

“These workshops are designed to promote an educational and learning experience that will be of value to them in the near future,” Johnson said.

“I am extremely happy with the job that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is doing with not just this particular program, but all their programs. We must reach out and take advantage of the great resources of services available.”

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