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Juveniles For Justice members reveal abuses they've endured in Philadelphia's juvenile justice system. LBW Photo
Juveniles For Justice members reveal abuses they've endured in Philadelphia's juvenile justice system. LBW Photo

Cruelty against children costs all dearly

It’s heartbreaking to hear children provide first hand accounts about this despicable brutality from adults that scars bodies, minds and souls.

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It’s hard hearing about children systematically subjected to sexual abuse, solitary confinement, strip searches, restraints plus physical abuse that include punches kicks and burns.

It’s heartbreaking to hear children provide first hand accounts about this despicable brutality from adults that scars bodies, minds and souls.

Compounding this heartbreak is the fact that these young victims of vicious misconduct live in Philadelphia, not some nation that U.S. officials constantly castigate like Cuba or Iran.

Recently some young Philadelphians used the City Hall courtyard as a venue to expose abuses they’ve endured while held inside the city’s juvenile justice system. 

Their chilling accounts came during an event that also exhibited artwork created by those youth that contained poignant pleas about their dreams for better lives.

Members of Juveniles For Justice gave testimonies about practices that should be unacceptable in a self-professed civilized society like America…practices like solitary confinement where incarcerated youth are alone for days sometimes weeks at a time only seeing another person when they are given meals. 

One Juveniles For Justice member recounted placement in solitary for yelling at a staff member who had burned their skin.

Experts acknowledge that solitary confinement causes serious psychiatric damage in adults. That mental debilitation is doubly so for persons under the age of 20.

Juveniles for Justice is a decade old initiative of Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center designed to help create improvements in both the juvenile justice system and the youth that become entangled in that system. The artwork displayed at that City Hall event came from current and former incarcerated youth working with artist Mark Strandquist.

Currently, there are less than 1,000 Philadelphia youth in institutional and residential juvenile justice system-related placements. 

While that figure is far less than the 202,000+ students enrolled in the School District of Philadelphia there is a staggering financial cost attached to incarcerating youth. 

The average per year cost for youth institutional placement is $70,000 compared to the SDP’s per pupil cost of around $12,500.

Efforts to increase awareness about the ugly undersides of youth incarceration like that recent City Hall event and testimony from youth during a City Council hearing weeks before that event come at a time when the Trump Administration is snatching children from asylum seekers arriving at the southern border and stuffing those children (some mere toddlers) into prison-like facilities.

The Trump Administration’s cruel family separation practice (allegedly) to deter immigration exposes another gross hypocrisy of that wrecking crew that incessantly extols its conservative creed of pro-life/pro-family.

Another damning indictment of Trump’s not-so-Great Again ameriKKKa came from a recently released United Nations report that assailed the “shockingly high number of children living in poverty” in the United States.

Poverty is a proven predictor of an array of problems for children, inclusive of paths that lead to crime that leads to incarceration where abuses occur.

Amazingly, law-&-order proponents persistently ignore that reality that abusing incarcerated youth is exactly the wrong lesson to teach if the goal is engendering respect for the law.

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