Don’t forget the little ones series: no longer blind

gifts-of-kindness

DON’T FORGET THE LITTLE ONES SERIES

HOW IT ALL STARTED

don't forget the little ones

 

No longer blind

Up to a few years ago, I walked blind. I was content inside my little world of happiness at home and the beauty of art.  Life was good. The world had problems but those seemed a reality far removed from me and my family.

Not-blind-anymore

I truly didn’t know I was blinded and somehow managed not to trip on the truth until a work project open my eyes.

My work involved researching juvenile detention centers as well as halfway houses for teens. I always presumed these teens had been trouble makers involved with drugs and gangs. And that was it. With a hardened heart I had judged these teens to deserve to be where they were: incarcerated. They were probably a menace to society anyways, right?

Who Are These Forgotten Children?

However, the more I read, the more my heart started to turn. I realized that although some had committed serious crimes, these were children (yes children, not a faceless menace to society or heartless gang member but a child).  Children that had no one to care for them, no one to turn to.

Most of them, according to statistics, grew up in fatherless homes and mom had to work two or more jobs to try and make ends meet in a drug infested neighborhood. If they made it to school, they came home to an empty house. Not all of them of course. Some were just so abused at home that they preferred the streets over a roof over their heads. The abuser in most cases was mom’s boyfriend. Sometimes it was dad.

Statistics say that the majority of trouble youths come from families that have generational dysfunction.  The unhealthy, broken, abusive, violent environment and mind sets that surround them enlist them toward violent criminal behavior.

A sad stark reality came to light for me. These children had not known love, security or joy. The hardness in my heart crumbled. I knew I could no longer stand in judgment against them. I had never walked in their shoes.

Early on these little ones had to fend for themselves. There was no one to help them or love them. They could trust no one. The authority figures that were supposed to protect them were either absent or hurting them.

A grim future

Sadly, the statistics, predict the future  of troubled children to be grim. If they reach adulthood (if not killed in a gang fight or while sleeping on the streets) they will most likely end up back in jail as adults.

“Once in the system, always in the system” goes the saying in the prison circles. Prison is more of a revolving door than a solution.

juveniles

 

According to Mark Smith, from Children’s Home and Aid, more than 50 percent of youth offenders who are released from a juvenile detention center end up coming back.

Incredibly, their worst fate is not ending up in jail. Nope. Something worse than jail? Yeap!
I thought there could be nothing worse than jail until I read that a very high percentage end up being trafficked for life. From jail to slavery! What a terrible fate!

IS THERE HOPE?

What can I do? What can we do?
When we read statistics as sad as these it can seem hopeless and overwhelming.

However, there is much we can do to help kids and prevent them from running away or ending up in jail.  It could be the kids right next door that need our help!

be-a-kid

 

Be Part Of The Solution:

DON’T FORGET THE LITTLE ONES

First, we need to be willing to open our eyes and be informed.  There are excellent resources available online to learn what puts youth at risk. Here is a start to learn more – check out the following organizations websites:

Children’s Home and Aid, a child and family services organization.

STANDUP FOR KIDS makes numerous presentations throughout the year, educating the general public, civic organizations, schools and church groups to the plight of homeless, street kids and at-risk youth.  http://www.standupforkids.org/

Second, lets be a part of the solution. Kids at risk need trustworthy, caring and  safe mentorship from an adult.  They need someone to guide them, teach them and encourage them.

  • Volunteer, give, and write about organizations that provide mentoring to kids.
  • Share with friends and encourage them to do the same.

volunteer

 

RESOURCES

Some excellent reading material on how to help youth at risk:
Run, Baby, Run by Nicky Cruz, a former savage street gang leader tranformed – A true story.

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. Also a true story leading gang members to change.

Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today’s Youth (The Family and Public Policy) Describes the extraordinary potential in mentoring relationships.

At Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Teens

Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future

Volunteer Opportunities

For volunteer opportunities or to find more information, look for the following types of organizations in your city:


 

Share Your Thoughts

Next time, we’ll be sharing what puts any child at risk and practical tips on how to help.

Please let us know organizations that you have worked with or your experience with children at risk.

We love your comments!

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26 Responses to “Don’t forget the little ones series: no longer blind”

  1. Yes, all children deserve a chance to become productive individual once they become adults. Thank you for posting!

  2. This was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it. Gladly passing this along.

  3. I too am guilty of being judgmental. I often write off certain children as bringing it upon themselves. However that is so not true. Many of these children didn’t have a chance at a “normal”, productive life. Its easy for me to say what I would do if I were given certain circumstances, but the truth is, until I have walked in their shoes I really don’t know how I would react. You are so right, these children need love, and people who care about them, just like anyone else. Thanks for sharing! #shinebloghop

  4. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Totally Terrific Tuesday! I hope we see you again this week. Party starts tonight at 10pm!

  5. I’m next to you at Barbie’s this week. Your post is all too true. Thanks for the helpful resource.


  6. Mary Geisen says:

    Great post! Thank you for advocating for children. I am a public school teacher and understand the importance of mentoring children. Teachers truly try their best to make a difference but there needs to be intervention and mentoring that happens outside of the school day too. I appreciate you bringing attention to this and for linking up to The Weekend Brew.

  7. This is great I absolutely agree that we need to get the word out and give children a better childhood. thanks for sharing I will share this as well.

  8. Every kid DOES deserve to be a kid! Thank you for sharing at the (mis)Adventures Monday Blog Hop.

  9. We all live in our own bubbles and don’t see the reality of some people’s (children’s, teens’) lives. We need to be involved and make a difference in someone’s life. I’m glad you took notice.

  10. Thank-you for linking up to Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned this to our board!

  11. Great post – thanks for sharing! Yes, these children need to be children. They need adults around to help them learn and grow. It’s heartbreaking to hear their stories. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I spent some time myself as a scout leader and it was always very clear the kids that were in most need of more of my time and effort. Thanks for sharing this! I am your neighbor at Fellowship Fridays.

  13. Hi there, I wanted to stop by and thank you for visiting and sharing your post, I have pinned it to my Friday Feature Board and invite you to follow please.

    Have a great weekend, Karren

  14. This is awesome. One of the greatest gifts to give is time.

  15. A child is a child, and every one deserves a fighting chance. Thank you for this post!

  16. Wow, great post. I am so thankful for the childhood I had. I was a kid who really got to enjoy being a kid.

  17. Such a powerful and sad post thanks for sharing @ #mum-bomonday

  18. Thank you for making me more aware of children at risk. This is so very sad.

  19. Thank you for sharing this thought provoking and challenging post at Good Morning Mondays. Thank you for opening our eyes to what is going on in our society and communities. Blessings

  20. My husband is a corrections officer in a state prison. Though not the same idea. These are adults of course but many of the inmates have spent years in jail, came from homes where the father and/or mother wasn’t present. Never really had a role model growing up. Not all of them of course but a good number of them. There are a large number that end up back in prison. But in reading your post, it would be assumed that some of these prisoners were like the teens you’re talking about

  21. this is a great post! Thank you so much for sharing! I was blessed enough to grow up in a wonderful home. My parents began fostering when I was 5 years old. I’ve met my share of children who had a bad rap but were great kids who just needed to catch a break and to know that someone cares.

  22. No matter age, race, color, etc. etc. etc., every child deserves the best and a path. Hopefully each child can find someone to lead their way and guide them to be the best!

  23. This is great information! I am definitely sharing..thanks :)

  24. I was oblivious to this topic until I became friends with a woman that was a social worker and worked in some halfway houses. Her stories were eye opening and made me more aware of the world around me. It changed my perspective.

    Thanks for sharing at Inspire Me Mondays!

  25. That is so true! I am having the same dilemma about kids that are causing trouble at my kids’ schools. On the one hand it is really unfair for my kids not to get the education they deserve because so much time is spent dealing with these kids, but on the other hand, how much worse will they all end up if they are kicked out of school? #manicMondays

  26. Thank you so much for posting this. I received my degree in behavioral forensics with plans to work in the juvenile corrections system, however mommyhood changed those plans a bit 😉 We are now starting the process to become foster parents, and your words spoke so true to my heart as I’ve begun doubting our decision and thinking it may be too much a risk. All children deserve a chance, plain and simple. I am so glad I found you on Meetup Monday, this post was truly thought-provoking. Thank you!

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