Do you recall Scared Straight? Well that was the scenario I was hoping to create but apparently it does not exist. Last night, I received an email from my son's principal citing some behaviors that are not tolerated in my house. I immediately sent the email to my husband and said let him handle it.
I sat on the couch and as my heart raced I knew, there was no way I would just sit by. I marched to his room and asked “what happened in school today”. His response “Oh nothing”. I pressed further and learned about the games they played and what was discussed in science class. I thought to myself surely I have lost my mind.
As I stood there, the mothers of the Steubenville Ohio boys came to mind. I wondered if they had asked them what had occurred at the numerous parties/events that they had allegedly assaulted this girl. Please note that my son has not sexually assaulted anyone but he had broken one too many rules for my liking. I explained to him that people who broke the rules ended up in jail.
I am certain he went to sleep thinking that by morning, I would have forgotten. NOPE! I reminded him on the drive to school, that I had instructed the principal to call the police. I even alerted his substitute teacher that he would be having recess with me hence no client meetings for me.
3:30 PM arrived and as I waited for him in the carpool line, I replayed the conversation that I would have with the police once we arrived. As we pulled into the building, he immediately thought we were going to the library since it is housed in the same building. Imagine his surprise when the detective emerged and called us to the back. As we entered the interrogation room and the door slammed behind us, my son was really worried when he saw that this was no joke. I said a silent prayer that the detective would deliver him a powerful message. I waited and waited!
After fifteen minutes, I reminded the detective of the reason that we were there. He gave my son some great advice but it was not until I let him know that it was either my house or the jail-house did things get real. He began to tell him about the juvenile center that housed thousands of kids who chose not to succeed at school and follow the rules. He spoke of kids without ipods, cell phones, lebron sneakers, stylish clothes and privacy- just a few of the things that my son loves.
I spoke to the detective privately prior to leaving and he actually thought I was being too harsh on my son. I reminded him that prisons are built off of the test scores of 3rd and 4th grade boys along with the statistics and societal expectations of African American boys. He was shocked by my candidness but shook my hand and told me to keep up the great work.
Many of you will wonder what he did that warranted a visit to the police station. The fact that he has repeatedly broke the rules should be enough. I realize that at the age of 9 many would overlook this but at 19 you would be blaming me.
Does anyone know if Scared Straight still airs?
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There is a version of scared strait that comes on. I don’t know the name but I think it comes on the A & E channel. It shows juvenile delinquent boys and girls visiting a real adult prison and being treated as inmates for a day. It seems to work for some but not others.
You know your son better than anyone. Keep doing whatever you feel you have to to keep him on the right path.
I’m not sure where you live, but we have a group of offenders who do community service. I asked the person supervising if my children could talk to the guys and we were allowed to speak to them. The younger guys thought it a joke, but the older more hardened men told both kids to listen to me, do well in school, take a good look at them. It was like scared straight, but without the bars. Try that.
Beyond Scared Straight comes on A&E. Check the onDemand schedule and Netflix.
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