Friday, April 16, 2010

Kiddie Gulags

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

One of the purposes of Pa Rock's Ramble is to serve as a repository for all of the things that I have written over the years. The collected works include, opinion (lots and lots of opinion!), fiction, really bad poetry, newspaper columns and magazine articles, and some old academic papers. By storing all of those things here, I don't have to tear through the house looking for something that I wrote fifteen years ago, I just have to search the index of The Ramble.

A decade ago I was attending graduate school at the University of Missouri studying social work. I have archived several academic papers that I wrote during that period within this blog. Of those, one in particular has stirred quite a bit of interest. Juvenile Boot Camps was posted on 13 December 2008. That piece of unfinished research draws more visitors than almost anything else saved on The Ramble.

I subscribe to a service that tracks visitors to Pa Rock's Ramble. It tells me where the visitor is from (usually), the search engine that they used to find the site, and the terms that they employed that brought them to one of my pages. Unfortunately, many of the visitors to Juvenile Boot Camps aren't there out of academic curiosity or research, but appear to be parents looking for places to warehouse their problem kids.

Yesterday someone from an undisclosed location went to and posted a search for "all boot camps in Florida that will take a nine-year-old." That search by itself is ugly enough, but when it is combined with a news story out of Florida today, the ugliness expands exponentially.

Today's news story said that the Feds have decided not to file charges of civil rights violations against employees at the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp over the death of a fourteen-year-old African-American youth named Martin Lee Anderson. Anderson was abused by employees at the camp on his first day there and subsequently died. The boy could not keep up during a mandatory run, and camp video tapes showed that employees responded to his suspected "faking" by shoving smelling salts up his nose and punching him. An attorney for one of the salaried camp thugs stated that it was a question of intent, and there was never any intent "other than to straighten this young man out." That same attorney labeled the whole sordid affair as "a tragic accident that's messed up a lot of lives."

Martin Lee Anderson is not the only child to have been murdered through callous treatment or neglect in one of these barbaric facilities. Several more are named in my posting of 13 December 2008, along with the specific tough love processes (aka tortures and sadistic practices) that led to their premature demise. Read it and weep.

Children do not need boot camps. They need love and attention, constant attention for twenty years or more. Successful parenting isn't easy - it takes lots and lots of hard work. And any adult who gives up on a child by the age of nine needs to be looking for a boot camp for himself - not for his kid!

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