A look into the experience of juvenile offenders
If you’re looking for a call to action, here it is. “Prison Kids” will inspire you to work within your community to reduce the number of kids placed in juvenile-detention centers. The documentary “Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children” follows several young people who have been involved in the juvenile-justice system and explores how this has impacted them and their families.
The documentary brings to light the startling fact that the United States leads the world in the number of children incarcerated. Bear in mind, this includes many who are locked up for offenses such as skipping school. “Prison Kids” highlights the long-term effect of this type of legal intervention on our society. Kids lose precious time with their families, schools and neighborhoods. They lose the opportunity to gain skills necessary to be successful adults. These kids often face the uphill battle of not just getting out, but staying out of the system. The film touches on key factors that are involved in this crisis—social injustice, racial disparity, mental-health issues and poverty. Although these issues cannot be explored exhaustively in an hour-long documentary, the film does give the sense that we can and should do something to help.
The time is now
It’s time to raise awareness about these issues and pledge that we will make sure the story is told. Let’s not lock up our children and rob them of the very support they need most. We CAN do better when it comes to taking care of children in desperate need of love. They may call out in socially unacceptable ways, but we should answer them without handcuffs, without solitary confinement and with the clear understanding of their potential. Let’s provide them with evidenced-based treatment opportunities that address their needs with compassion and understanding, helping them become the citizens they were meant to be.
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