Nightline story I worked on out tonight: Fund suicide prevention programs for teens or teach them Golf?

abc-bush-scandal.jpg A story I worked on with ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and producers Anna Schecter and Maddie Sauer was broadcast tonight on Nightline.

I don’t have a link to the video yet, but will post one when it is put online probably tomorrow. I also have an online story that will be posted tomorrow morning, that I worked on Brian and Anna.

The story is about a quarter of a billion program run out of an obscure office in the Department of Justice known as the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. That office is supposed to fund these like training for corrections officers to prevent locked up kids from being sexually abused or harmed. One of its primary missions of OJJDP is also supposed to fund efforts to remove kids from adult jails– where the kids not only are sexually assaulted, beaten and killed by adult inmates, but kids are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than when they are jailed with other juveniles.

So where is the funding going instead? Golf. The World Golf Association got a $500,000 grant from OJJDP to promote golf. The administrator of OJJDP, J. Robert Flores, explained the grant to ABC this way:

“We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids.”

Reasonable people can differ perhaps whether government funds should be used to promote golf instead of preventing teenage suicide, but as the Nightline segment made clear, the World Golf Foundation’s First Tee program ranked 47th on a list of a list of 104 potential applicants. Dozens of juvenile justice groups that were ranked better received no funding at all.

For what it is worth, the honorary chairman of the World Golf Foundation’s First Tee program is former President George Herbert Walker Bush.

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