Two juvenile justice system officials will be presenting a free training program on implicit bias at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Community Room of the Christian County Sheriff's Office.

If you ask the Rev. Edward Palmer, who will be the main presenter at the training tomorrow, everyone shows implicit bias in a split second every day without even realizing it. Because of that, he feels it's important to teach everyone to be mindful of those unintentional biases.

Palmer currently serves as the vice-chair of the National Coalition for Juvenile Justice, is a certified diversity trainer through the Diversity Training University International in California and a certified Racial and Ethnic Disparities Capstone project trainer through Georgetown University.

Palmer explained in a phone interview that he decided to host the free training in Christian County as part of his capstone project with Georgetown University. However, he has done well over 200 similar training throughout the country, Palmer said.

"I picked Christian County as the community I wanted to utilize my program to affect," Palmer said. "So, we're being very strategic in identifying and addressing racial disparities right there in Christian County."

Implicit bias, according to Palmer, is a stereotypical reaction to another person based on their physical appearance. Palmer added physical appearances that affect implicit bias can be anything from race, gender and socioeconomic status and similar aspects.

"They're instinctive. They're reactive and they're instantaneous," Palmer said.

"We engage in bias reactions to people without even knowing it. So, what this training attempts to do is to clarify for people what implicit bias is and how they can engage in strategies to minimize the impact of bias on decision making."

The training will begin with opening remarks by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who will then present Palmer as the main speaker.

Palmer will begin the training by presenting data of racial disparity of young as they encounter the education, juvenile justice and child welfare systems. That data will present statistics of racial disparity in Christian County as well as surrounding counties and state data.

Palmer added that part of his decision to host the training in Christian County is because is one of four counties in Kentucky that have the worst statistics on racial disparity. In other words, Christian County has one of the four highest rates of racial disproportionality in the state. The other three counties are Fayette, Jefferson and Hardin.

Following Palmer presenting that data, he will begin having a "conversation" helping everyone understand what implicit bias is and how it affects decisions, responses and reactions to other people.

"When (the training) is done, we hope to have a model that we can not only duplicate here in Kentucky, but hopefully we'll have a model that nationally, we can duplicate across the country," Palmer said.

Palmer hopes the training will help affect how everyone approaches implicit bias and that it will positively impact the systems that all children are coming in contact with, whether that be through education, juvenile justice or child welfare systems.

"It's really important that we develop a response to juvenile delinquency that helps kids become productive citizens," Palmer said. "All the research tells us that just locking (children) up doesn't work. So, we've got to engage them on another level and build a capacity within their communities to be a part of the solution."

The training Thursday is expected to begin at 4 p.m. and end around 7 p.m. The event is open to all community members. However, space is limited. A light meal will also be provided at the event.

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or aseeger@kentuckynewera.com. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra.

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