Dear reader, I want you to know what it is like for those young teens that are entrapped in Juvenile detention and the ‘system’. I want you to have empathy not judgement and empathy only comes from actually Knowing how 95% of these kids come to behave ways society cannot condone.(For those not Australian the media has ‘suddenly’ discovered that abuse is happening in our juvenile detention centres.)
You see abuse in the juvenile detention centres does not happen upon an isolated island. Moreover, it is not new. It certainly has been going on my whole lifetime and I am 53. My point is, it happens because the ‘community’ does not give a shit! I am sorry. I cannot say it any nicer than that. General society see the current behaviour of these teens and think they deserve what they get. I have heard this so many times over both my teenage years and the last 31 years of my professional career so I assure you it is not hyperbole! And it is just plain wrong! I know for there was a time when I was there…
You have finally escaped your family and whatever that experience with them was, it was not nice or emotionally healthy because here you are a ward of the state or in juvie. You are hurt, bewildered, and feel it was entirely your fault. However, there is no way you are going to show this to the adults around you unless they prove to be very, very trustworthy. Unfortunately this withdrawal solidifies and gains strength as each week passes ‘in care’ or detention and you discover other adults are angry, needy, damaged and you experience more physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. It is easier to deal with than your parents abuse for you don’t love these people, however it hurts, and no matter how good your smartass mouth is, if you are under 18, you know you are powerless the abusers.
Then the ‘community’ see these damaged kid/teens and condemn them, scorn them and treat them harshly. Consequently, these teens get angrier and angrier, their flooding of hormones only strengthening this anger into rage…sometimes fury wherein the brain is incapable of rational thought. For some their rage implodes within, some without, and none of it is good. It is happening now, it happened then.
Let me share some true stories with changed names.
- Janet stuck drawing pins in her knees as we sat in class. We were nine. She would let no nun control her but all her violence was toward herself. The nuns thought her bad. We knew she was sad. However, she never let anyone in. She let me sit beside her sometimes on top of the orphanages roof away from the nuns. She was mostly silent but that was ok with me. Her story was beyond the scope of speech. Janet stopped living when she was 17.
- Two little brothers I shared a unit with had been locked in a cupboard for three days with a cup after their parents dumped them on their Uncle because they did not want them anymore. One of the boys had given himself an Acquired Brain Injury by bashing his head repeatedly into the toilet door. Hard. They were six and eight when I knew them. It had happened when they were younger. Now would you blame them for being angry teens?
- Russell climbed to the top of the building and tried to drop bricks on the nuns heads. Sometimes he’d even try to drop them on us but only when he was having a really bad day. He was eleven. His father had beaten him to an inch of his life in an alcoholic rage, not once but many times. Finally, someone outside the family took action. But so very much damage was already done.
- Annie was nine. She had epilepsy. Her parents hadn’t liked it so they abused her till it came to the hospital’s attention and she became a ward of the state. Unwanted, disabled with damage to her brain due to neglect and abuse.
- Sarah is now 54. She has lived for a long time now in an Australian prison. Her sexual abuse had been indescribable as a child. She was a heroin addict by the time she was 12 when I shared a dorm with her. She was abused all through the system particularly by priests, guards, doctors, other religious leaders and ‘good citizens’ who would involve themselves in kids in the orphanages. If you met her now and knew some of her behaviour, you may condemn her as so many do. Some have called her and her fellow-prisoners, all trapped by heroin a long, long time ago, “scum of the earth”. They are wrong. I re-met her when I worked in the women’s prison as a psychiatric nurse. She was…destroyed.
- Janine is also in prison. In and out in and out. An upper-class family of great social respectability adopted her as a baby. Then proceeded to use her as a sexual object for themselves and their ‘group sex parties’. She is a massive self-harmer as well as violent to those ‘in power’…hence ending up in prison regularly. Her history of abuse in the ‘system’ reads like a horror story. I hate horror stories.
- Rachel was shot up with heroin by her mother at the age of seven and used as a sexual thing for deals. Rach spends her life in and out of prison.
Remember dear reader I say with all surety that at least 95% of these teens have ended up in juvenile detention through no fault of their own. These stories are not unique. The rare story is the kid who had it all and was rotten.
Coming up in the next post…the adults you meet in ‘the system’.