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Publication Date

Winter 1-10-2019


The purpose of this project is to create a strategy within the North Georgia United Methodist Church Conference (NGUMC) structures to counter the criminalization of youth by engaging in opportunities that bring awareness to the NGUMC and then engage in mentoring and other activities designed to counter this criminalization of youth through holistic and intergenerational approaches at the various ecclesiastical levels within the Conference. There is a growing concern among educators and other youth service professionals in regards to what has been called “the school to prison pipeline.” While a growing number of youth are at risk of falling victim to a culture of criminalization, youth of color and lower socioeconomic status and those in foster care are at particular risk. Few churches are aware that various social agencies are engaging in processes of systemic and systematic criminalization of youth.

This paper is divided into three parts. Part One explores factors contributing to the criminalization of youth in order to gain an understanding of the development and progression of this phenomenon. This portion also examines how criminalization impacts youth, families, and society. Part Two offers an overview of theology found in the Bible and the United Methodist Book of Discipline, each mandating that the Church come to the aid of those most vulnerable.

Part Three suggests how the Church can be a vital part of curtailing the criminalization of young people, especially foster children who are at a greater risk of criminalization. To fulfill the goal of addressing and curtailing this, a collaborative effort with other churches and child/youth service agencies within the community is developed in order to strengthen, equip, educate, and encourage foster and adoptive families. Support also comes in the form of a monthly support group providing training and fellowship. Part Three concludes with an evaluation.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Dr. Chap R. Clark

Document Type





Criminalization, Foster Care, Youth, Systemic Abandonment, Decriminalization


Educational Leadership | Other Education | Practical Theology | Social Work


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