In Hunterdon County, a new initiative targets first-time minor juvenile offenders for a special program to redirect their thinking and behavior.

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"LEAP" stands for the 'Law Enforcement Adolescent Program.'

Its objective is to reduce the overall number of juveniles entering the court system by providing support and assistance for the kids and their families when they get into minor trouble early on.

It also addresses substance abuse, family issues, relationships and school issues through counseling and referrals to additional services such as life skills, counseling, educational groups, substance use assessments, drug screening, parenting programs and anger management.

Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns said, "From our office and from our juvenile assistant prosecutor and our juvenile unit, it seems to be working well."

He said LEAP is designed to provide therapeutic support for improving life choice among the juveniles it serves.

The initiative partners with Hunterdon Prevention Resources for education and prevention services to the juveniles and their families, many of whom come from troubled backgrounds. They have more than 40 years of experience as the county's prevention agency.