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‘Step-Up’ program aims at stopping juvenile crime and domestic violence

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Domestic violence has been a front-of-mind issue for Rockford over the past few years. Now, after the city's most violent year in its history, Rockford announces a new program that aims to flip the script on domestic violence and juvenile crime.

The "Step-Up" program takes kids between 12 and 17 years old with minor criminal offenses out of the justice system and puts them in a 21 week program.

That program helps cultivate better relationships with family members and teaches de-escalation tactics to keep situations from becoming violent. However, for Rockford Family Peace Center Youth Services Manager Annie Hobson, the most important part of the program is that kids don't go through it alone.

"Several lessons will take place where the child and the parent will work together," Hobson said, "And that's the key, working together."

And with a focus on addressing violence in the home, Youth Services Network Supervisor Casey Driessen hopes it keeps violence from spilling out to the community.

"We're focusing on a youth and a parent and a family," Driessen said. "But ultimately, we want this to go beyond just a home, but also just a safe community."

Currently, the program will only host five families due to COVID-19 restrictions. Hobson says the program will likely grow in the coming months as the state opens up and "Step-Up" gains momentum.

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William Ingalls

William Ingalls is the weekend reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford and went to high school at Christian Life.

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