Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review of Born, Not Raised

The population of kids who are currently being serviced by juvenile halls seems like an underrepresented population, at least in a positive light. All that the media seems to focus on is their horrible crimes. No one seems to pay much attention to the individuals and their fear, nor how to help them to prevent it all from happening again.

I was drawn to Born, Not Raised in part because my late father's job in his golden years was working at the local juvenile hall. While he couldn't discuss the details of any of the cases, he often had a random story about an exchange with one of the kids. When any of them died or otherwise slipped, he felt it personally. He really cared about his job.

Susan Madden Lankford earned herself access to the inside of these facilities, to bring about more awareness. Her black and white photography emphasizes the loneliness and the pain of being inside them. To make it even more emotional, she includes reactions and handwritten notes from the some of the incarcerated kids. Your heartstrings are tugged as you realize how confusing it is for them and how they struggle to find the right kind of help. She also includes interviews with some of the kids, as well as many of the professionals who work with them.

Many of these kids have great potential, which Lankford attempts to highlight as she includes their stories and essays written as sort of assignments. On the flipside, many of these kids are depressed and feel that they will never be able to change their lives. They have been conditioned to believe there is no hope. When they are released from Juvey, they often end up going right back to the place from which they came and those problems rear their ugly heads all over again. It becomes an endless cycle.

Lankford also spends some time discussing these children with other professionals, such as psychologists. They discuss the impacts of the family situations, based on current psychological research. It really is a sobering picture.

Questions are asked that demand answers. What those answers are, you will not not find in this book. Instead, this feels like a call to action for both the juvenile halls and society in general.

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