by Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The term “at-risk youth” was commonly used in both penal and education codes in California – until now.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that went into effect on Jan. 1 that officially wiped the phrase from the state’s language. The phrase will now be replaced by “at-promise youth.”

Assemblymember Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), who penned the passed legislation, says the measure will change the negative connotation that comes along with the “at-risk” label.

“I learned that words matter – and once they were called ‘at-risk,’ they almost were in the school-to-prison pipeline automatically,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Jones-Sawyer says the negative narrative has the greatest effect on young people who are a part of minority populations.

Battling expectations is something Alejandro Galicia Cervantes is all too familiar with.

“My whole family does corn. We sell corn on the street and we do ice cream too. So that’s always what my family does,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes says he’s proud of his family, but he knew he wanted a different life to break the cycle – though he says quickly it became clear the road would be difficult.

“I joined different programs and that’s where the label started to be used,” Cervantes said.

He was in high school the first time he was referred to as “at-risk.”

“It just felt like, damn, I’m like really at-risk? That’s the path I’m heading towards? It felt like there was no empowerment in it.”

So Cervantes took the power into his own hands, joining youth programs like “Improv Your Tomorrow” that helped him get to college. But he knows he’s one of the lucky ones.

In California, there are 650 young people in operated juvenile centers – with 87 percent being black or Latino, according to the Division of Juvenile Justice.

Though the definition will stay the same, Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer says changing the language will change the whole meaning for young people like Cervantes.

“No educators, no law enforcement will no longer be able to call our young people who make a mistake ‘at-risk,'” Jones-Sawyer said. “We’re going to call them ‘at-promise’ because they’re the promise of the future.”

The bill received 66 “yes” votes in the Assembly and 34 “yes” votes in the Senate.

Comments (12)
  1. LBS says:

    “At-Promise Youth” = feral pavement ape

  2. scf says:

    Utterly idiotic

  3. Frank K says:

    It’s easier to come up with stupid ideas like this one, than to actually solve problems. I an so glad to have escaped from the hell hole that California has become.

    1. Kelly brinkert says:

      true, but government is the problem not the solution to it

  4. todd says:

    I was thinking about taking a walk outside this evening, but it is too promisey.

  5. Erik Mason says:

    “It just felt like, damn, I’m like really at-risk? That’s the path I’m heading towards? It felt like there was no empowerment in it.”

    Yeah, I’m sure this is how he really talks..?
    “…no empowerment in it.”

    Give me a break…It sounds like he can’t do anything for himself…

  6. mjazzguitar says:

    Send the white kids to Antifa.
    The black kids to Black Lives Matter.
    And the hispanics to La Raza.
    Then you can call them “Democrats”.

  7. “Newspeak” is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), by George Orwell. The basic idea behind Newspeak is to basically erase all deeper meaning from language. The shades of language are gone, leaving only the most basic, black-and-white ideas for people to think, and, in turn, feel. For example: there is no ‘bad,’ because negative words are deleted from existence. To illustrate this idea that language can corrupt thought and that totalitarian systems use language to restrict, rather than broaden ideas, Orwell created Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. Without a word for freedom, for example, the concept of freedom cannot exist.

  8. Ed Holt says:

    Such childish wordplay is what idiots do. What is these punks’ promise, they’ll commit more crimes?

  9. Don Duncan says:

    This is nothing new. Governments have been using “unique” definitions as propaganda forever, e.g., govt. tyranny used to be called “terrorism”, now terrorism is citizens protesting terrorism. Also, govt. political prisoners are “students being re-educated” and prison guards are “correctional officers”. What are they correcting? Don’t ask or you might be their next target.

  10. b. lather says:

    most of us can see where “at risk” might be a bit prejudicial for a kid but “at promise” COMPLETELY sugar coats the real needs of those truly needing some good inputs in an effort redirect their trend from failing to on track. this is simply the latest in the “you are all amazing” BS we have seen rise as the nanny state seeks to release all from responsibility. telling someone they have promise is nice…demonstrating how they can be solid citizens will most often require some tough love and enforcing that they be accountable for their actions and choices. let’s start with forcing fathers to step up. “at promise” is simply pablum to soothe the lefties

  11. Kelly brinkert says:

    try Dissenter to comment on any page on the internet, like those that shut down comments or require you to login to comment etc

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