October 23, 2006
It's a seminar aimed at helping parents and their kids understand each other and how the law can affect them.
Tonight, a Columbia County judge talked to folks in Richmond County about sex, drugs, and gang violence.
His message went right to the heart of a community in crisis: south Augusta's Barton Village neighborhood.
"Parents, We Need You Back" was Judge Padgett's message for the parents of Richmond County.
Many News 12 talked to say it couldn't have come at a better time for this troubled community, riddled with crime and noted for its gang problem.
Judge Padgett showed parents the video obtained by police showing teens in Augusta rapping about gangs, flashing guns, and promoting violence. Some of those teens claimed to represent a Barton Village gang.
"We need prayers," was Barton Village resident Randolph Wade's response.
"Stop the hate...for the kids' sake," said concerned parent Bridgette Jackson.
"This program knows no racial lines, no county lines, the message is the same," Judge Padgett said. "Parents need to get involved."
And that's what some are doing.
Cynthia Quarterman brought her two children along with her.
"It's something I feel they need to hear," she said. "I want them to learn. No sex, no drugs."
And true to form for this judge, no subject is off limits.
Cynthia didn't flinch as her 12-year-old son, Joe Jones, heard it all: alcohol, prescription drug abuse, marijuana, meth, sex and gangs.
"I don't want to get involved with gangs," said Joe. "I want to have a good future, go to college and get a good job."
Judge Padgett spoke about gang signs, clothing, graffiti, and other warning signs.
"I want parents back to being parents, not friends," he said.
And Jackson says she's willing to make the effort if it means getting her streets back to being safe. "I want them to be able to be in the neighborhood, go to school, feel safe and stop the violence, take the violence somewhere else and let the kids be kids."
And Judge Padgett's first road trip seems to be a big success.
One parent we spoke with called later to say just how much she and her children were touched not only by Judge Padgett but by others who got up and shared their experiences.
We asked Judge Padgett how he plans to keep up his public speaking job, as busy as he must be in court. He says he will just take it one day at a time.
He is actually on vacation this week with his family, but still came out to speak, because he says he is committed to helping as many as he possibly can.
Judge Padgett does it all as a volunteer, without earning one penny in return.