Culture, Nature & Freedom: Treating Juvenile Offenders.
W. Civ. 205
In Kansas, Juvenile offenders are sent to Youth Centers. These are merely
Child prisons, lockdown facilities for kids. This style of treatment goes
against every idea of growth put forward in this class. In this paper I will try
to justify the use of residential treatment schemes through the ideas found in
several of this semesters authors; including T.Huxtley, Rousseau, DuBois, Freud,
A.Huxtley, and Mill. The Ideals set forth by these intellectuals should be the
basis for all treatment, to better the individuals and society.
First, We can look to DuBois. He believes that people can change their own
consciousness. He shows this through his Immersion narrative. This can’t work
in a youth center. The only cultural ideal here is the Master/slave dialectic
between staff and youth. The sides work apart. The two can’t join because one
does not experience the other. There is no way to be above the veil of their
status. In a residential treatment modality, Relationship building is key to
success. The youth need to feel the veil has been lifted. It allows them to
explore safely and see the world in a greater view. The view as other is removed
and a true balance displaces the master / slave one.
Next, we can look at Mills Ideas on culture. He would like to elevate the
morals of the human mind. To do this, we must continually test the standard. New
ideas must be able to circulate freely. We must weigh how all actions effect
others.This can not be done in these Youth centers as well. They have very
specific codes and any questioning is reprimanded. Cultural influx is at a
standstill and Censor ship is at it’s highest possible level. A residential
treatment modality gives all ideas a free shot. Self Government, A system used
by the youth assures a safe environment to share all feedback and new ideas
openly, to non judgmental ears. it looks at how one’s action are related to
others and provides a safe place’ for all expression. Allowing ideas to stay
fresh and moral stability and growth to flourish.
This leads us directly to the dehumanization described by T.H. Huxtley. First,
we have the effects of Social-Darwinism. We are using our own projections of
nature for a model. These children are being culturally pushed aside for
progress, stuck in mini prisons. Where, rather than fix problems, we push them
into suffering so that we may achieve gains. Then there is the idea of the
gospel of wealth. Why help these kids? My money is a product of an evolutionary
force, so is there placement. Helping would only interrupt their punishment.
These Youth Centers also rob them of their ability to meet the goals of our
society’s Protestant work ethic. They have no contribution! These three things
let us dehumanize these children and put their responsibility off on others.
Residential treatment, on the other hand, removes the gospel of wealth
mentality; earn as much as you want, monetary forces are not evolutionary.
Intervention is key to Residential Treatment, no punishment of lower classes.
This system makes everyone equal. This flows into the work ethic removal as well,
everyone contributes and the group benefits. No individual benefit is given out.
If one is good, then all are good. Finally, it erases the mask of Social-
Darwinism. The youth work to meet goals for each other. No one wants to be above
the rest. A strong whole help everyone individually as well. A week whole causes
resentment and jealousy.
A look at Wiesel gives us insight to the effect of the political institution on
these Centers. Are these kids a product of our culture? If so how do we keep
this from occurring? The answer is not to lock them up. What family bonds were
available? Instead of locking the kids up, we need to find our mistake!
Rationality has an opportunity to fail here. Residential treatment lets
everyone be separate and define their own meanings of life, between being and
life itself. This helps each youth find meaning in life virtue of their own
From here we can move to A. Huxtley. His views show what would happen if culture
completely displaced nature in society. This translates to the society of a
youth Center. Youth Centers are completely denaturalized, almost to the point of
being sterile. The futures of these youth should not be predestined, and mapped
out as in a youth center. Here progress is mapped. In a residential style
treatment setup the social control is through self government and peer
interactions, not a cultural controlling body. Also the myth of progress is
dismantles. Residential treatment looks for change not progress. These ongoing
changes allow for humanness. There is an availability of true human values, not
just the pop culture presented in the prison center.
Finally, we can look at Freud. His ideas link the behaviors exhibited to inner
problems with family and society. He brings into question the moral and
cultural values instilled by other institutions such as church and school. He
trys to place things in several different categories. First, The Eros and
Thantos Dialectic. Agressivity hang in the balance here. Our family structure
should let us put the primary agressivity we have in check. Regardless, Freud
looks to the person and the cultural venue for answers. A youth center is only a
storage facility. There is no therapeutic gain achieved in these Child Prisons.
They merely use reactive measures to stop behaviors, instead of looking for
antecedents proactively. Once again residential treatment has an edge. Through
the self government, relationship building process, and cultural challenges, the
youth in these settings work on the exterior antecedents that may be effecting
their behaviors . This ,in addition to clearing the distorted cultural view,
also provides a venue for problem solving and rational discussions of ideas. It
provides a vehicle for the youth to begin the self searching required to look
into some of these ideas and find a better reality. Growth and gain for all is
the key. For Freud, this is achieved by keeping drives in check between the
pleasure principle, our moral super ego, and the authoritative I in the ego.
Again, this is only done in residential settings. Youth Centers only house
children, hampering all these abilities spoken about above.
I believe that the question of how to rehabilitate Juvenile Offenders is simple.
We must Fix kids instead of locking them up. The Ideas presented here are the
most sound way to do that. These theories allow for mental growth, equality,
change and freedom from censorship to new ideas. This is exactly what these
youth need. Their culture has limited them and placed a veil over them in
society. Residential treatment is the only way to remedy this. The safety of
idea exchange and the freedom of growth allow for each youth to develop the
personality needed to question the right things and put the cultural puzzle
together. Youth centers only let them sit, and ponder the only culture they know.
This makes the group Fester and fall further down the rungs of the societal
ladder. This setup only hardens the veil of separation between the troubled
youth and society. As you can see residential treatment is the only alternative
to give these youth a chance to gain the skills needed for life today.