When I began this job, I thought that I would have no problem earning the respect of the juvenile residents. I was wrong. Apparently, they do not believe respect is earned or called for simply because you are the one in charge. I'd always thought that my job would be pseudo-parenting. The Juvenile Justice System is supposedly all about rehabilitation, much more than the adult. I didn't think we'd be a warehouse for the county's wayward gang members, drug dealers, and thieves too slow to run from police. Yet, that's what we've become.
One time in court I heard a kid tell the judge that should he die during a gang fight, or during some other violent activity, he would at least die with his pride and respect.
"So," I thought. "That's how they view pride and respect." However, at the time, I still didn't know what truth, exactly, I'd stumbled upon. The best I can put it into words is this: juvenile delinquents, typically, only care what you have to say if you look like them, sound like them, come from the same socioeconomic status (or appear to), have roughly the same education, and could, potentially, beat the living shit right out of them. Unfortunately, this realization has jaded me to a great extent concerning my lifelong pursuit to save every kid from themselves and their surroundings. Though, I've most definitely not given up.
Respect does not get shown to their parents, but they cry when they hear their mother's voice. They cannot tell you the birthdays of their siblings or, sometimes, themselves, but they claim to fight tooth and nail to get home to their brothers and sisters. And, even though they don't realize how destructive to their as yet unlived lives this is, they beg for a reprieve in order to get home to their children. Yes, children. Not one group of kids coming through these doors has yet to be absent a young father or mother.
And I wonder why they don't listen to me when I ask for their respect. I am not one of them. For this, I consider myself lucky. However, I'm quickly realizing that saving today's youth might be an exercise in futility, as those of us educated in their salvation are getting further and further away from who these kids are, fundamentally.
Though, I still do not give up hope. My original path, maybe, but I will find a way to be useful to this world through helping tomorrow's generation.
Love and Lyte,