This is dedicated to Jewels, a young person wanting to help young people do better. Jewels told me of wanting to be a social worker and was hoping I had some ideas to help youngsters not to become repeat offenders. Some of what I answered Jewels is in this post. I think that the causes of juvenile delinquency must be addressed first in a serious enough manner to stop the pain and the anger before it manifest itself into juvenile delinquency. It is hard to turn a kid around in an hour a week session who is being abused and has been being abused since they were old enough to remember and are too embarrassed, or too afraid to tell anyone about the mental cruelty, beatings or daily sexual assaults. Unfortunately Jewels, by the time we end up in your office we already do not trust the system and have been labeled as bad eggs. Real work has to be done before we get arrested and enter the juvenile justice system.
I would like to say for those of you who have never read anything about me in my pages titled, “The Beginning Years/Recipe For Failure” that I consider myself some what of an expert in the juvenile justice system. I was not a social worker, child lawyer, judge, youth squad police officer, juvenile detention worker; I was the juvenile who got mentally abused by my teachers, physically abused by a disenchanted parent, sexually assaulted by a community center councilor and then thrown in a juvenile detention center for truancy to be educated in all manners of crimes by gang bangers, by all of the professionals above and all before I was 14 years old. The abuse started when I was in grade one and by the age of 14 I was a hardened gang banger and living in the street on my own; a for real deadly juvenile delinquent, societies worst nightmare. I would commit every offense, be in and out of a host of juvenile detention centers and end up doing prison time as a man as well.
I would say that not much has changed in the juvenile justice system since then, except that now we have little mini institutions instead of the visibly nasty embarrassing to the politician big prisons, but the lack of counseling, the abuse and the no rehabilitation method of dealing with juveniles is still the same. They are still being talked at, but not listened to. They are still being told to stop feeling sorry for themselves and that a lot of people have it a lot worse than they do when they complain of being abused. No matter what their crime they are still being thrown into the same places with no counseling, or schooling with hardened gang bangers. I ask you what was the point of my imprisonment? I did not benefit from it and neither did society.
When a mother for example tells the court that the father of the child abuses his children and the court sees the evidence that he abuses her as well and then gives custody to the father what does this say to the child about violence and abuse. Then we ask where does all the hostility and violence come from.
When a child complains of abuse at home and then the courts sends him back to live with the offending parent while things get sorted out what do you think happens to the child and their trust in the system.
When teachers, priests, ministers, social workers, juvenile detention workers and other trusted people continually abuse children and get away with it or get slaps on the wrists from judges, what messages are we sending to the children upon whose little bodies , hearts and minds these abuses are being played out on. This ladies and gentlemen are where the juvenile delinquent is born and raised.
They are the children who scream out in pain at all hours of the day and night, that everybody hears and no one comes to help until they do something wrong and end up before a judge. Incarcerated they will miss school while being told that an education is their only way off the vicious circle. They will never catch up and they will drop out and join a gang and then they will graduate with honors from the school of the streets and become hardened criminals, because they grew up in a system that does not care about children and children’s problems.
I think that one must get at why they are offending in the first place. Home life, abuse, incest, teacher cruelty, bullying, peer pressure and more all play a big role in why a child offends in the first place. I am not saying society does not need to be protected from juveniles once they start to commit crimes and when they act out negatively, but housing them in prisons where they learn how to be good at what they do, is not the solution. The real solution is to stop creating the environment that breeds them.
Some Ideas For Change:
Getting them interested in some form of alternative interest that will give them hope is the key to not re-offending for most young offenders.
We must regain the trust of children and stop putting them in harm’s way. The courts and the juvenile justice system must find a way to stop putting juveniles back in to the hands of the people who have abused them, or can not protect them.
The question is not what type of counselling, but that there be some kind of counselling and constructive training programs.
Stop sending these children back to parents who abuse them, can not control them, or could careless about them.
If we are going to take them into custody for their own protection and good, let us make damn sure that they are not just leaving one abusive situation for another. Let us stop putting the truant in with the drug selling gang banger.
We must learn to listen to what these children are saying and start believing them when they tell their stories of abuses so horrific that they seem too horrible to be true .
I was a truant because I found school boring. I hung out in gangs in the end because we were all getting abused and the gangs made us feel safe and gave us a way to get what we needed and wanted and allowed us at the same time to strike back at you the people who hurt us and you the people who let them do it to us.
I stole because I wanted more and everyone around me was getting things the easy way; the police taking off the crooks, the gangs from the honest people, our parents to give us what they could not afford.
If you want to help the youths of today not to re-offend you must find out why they offended and give them an alternative way to achieve that same goal. There is no easy way everyone does things for different reasons, but I have learned there is always an honest way and sometimes the offender just needs to be shown the honest way.
In my pages you will find the story of my life and how the system failed me and others in my life. I was who you wish to help today. Read about my childhood it may give you some insight as to what the young people you are trying to help, go through and why they do what they do. The story is in 2 parts and is called, ” The beginning Years/ A Recipe for Failure”, ” No Sitting On This Fence” and ” Juvenile Detention Taught Me A Lot And It Was Not Good”, are all about my young life in the juvenile system and how I came to be there.
I wish you well in you endeavors and don’t give up on the children. These children need your help and if it takes a while to get through to them hang in there; the rewards for saving a life are great and very gratifying. Thank you Jewels for caring enough to ask what I thought and how others might be helped.