When Is It Okay to Lock Children Up for Noncriminal Offenses? My immediate answer is NEVER EVER! Let me be frank- this article Is it ever OK to lock up runaway kids? Public officials weigh inenrages me. David Edwards makes it sound like summer camp. He has the nerve to say, “Every child has his or her own room, we have an on-site school, and the children are kept safe by a highly dedicated, well-trained staff of detention officers.” What bullshit. To add to this, he goes on to say “Many juveniles are ordered into drug treatment or mental health counseling. If they repeatedly refuse treatment, they are placed in the detention facility for up to seven days to compel compliance.” Please don’t get me wrong, yes, a child should receive help, but what happens after the seven days? What happens when the child goes back into the environment? How is a child supposed to maintain the skills they learned to stay clean?
It pisses me off that this article focuses on “Where do we send them?”, when it should be asking, “Where is the leadership?” “What is the plan to restore children to their families?” “How do we rehabilitate these families as a whole or find another family if their own remains abusive?”. I am also curious why the system is so hell bent on creating status offenders? “A status offender is — a child who has stopped attending school or has run away from home or foster care — appears before the court, inquiries are made to assess whether that child is living safely. If the child is living in a dangerous situation, the system attempts to identify a readily available safe placement. If there is not a safe placement, the child is placed in a detention facility.” This leads me to wonder why we are not enforcing the Becca Law “The Becca Law was intended to help parents intervene in the lives of children who chronically run away. When the Becca Law brought teenagers to court for these reasons, there was hope that the court process would connect youth to services and support families in resolving conflict. But time has shown that courts lack the resources and tools to effectively address the underlying needs of youth and their families. Therefore, instead of glorifying detention centers like Edwards, we need to be focusing on viable resources and effective approaches for addressing these underlying issues.