Gwen's Girls

A new Gwen’s Girls initiative aims to reduce juvenile justice referrals in Allegheny County

Alexis was in elementary school when school police referred her to the juvenile justice system for arguing with a teacher. Three years ago, at age 14, she was arrested again for yelling at other students. This time, she was also expelled from the school.

“I was nervous and scared,” said Alexis, whose last name and whose schools are being withheld at her request.

Alexis is not alone. In 2020, a report by the Black Girls Equity Alliance, an initiative of Gwen’s Girls, found extreme racial disparities in juvenile justice referrals and overcriminalization of Black youth across Allegheny County.

In response to the report, Gwen’s Girls, a nonprofit organization that works to empower young girls through programs, education and experiences, has initiated a community-wide intervention and prevention helpline called Caring Connections for YOUth.


Those are the opening paragraphs of a new PublicSource story by writer Lajja Mistry that explores efforts to lower the number of teens referred to the juvenile justice system and to offer meaningful support to Black youth in Allegheny County. 

Read the full story here to learn more about the Gwen’s Girls initiative Caring Connections for YOUth.