If you aren’t familiar with the popular A&E series, Beyond Scared Straight, it’s a series documenting the experience of juvenile delinquents going to jail for a day. I felt this would be a good subject to blog about since majority of my classmates are social work students and could give me some insight on this subject. I have been watching this show since its premiere in January 2011 and found it interesting how many of the juveniles participating in these types of programs revert back to their old behaviors after leaving the program.
Although I appreciate and commend the efforts of the officers and prisoners involved I still have to wonder, do you really think one jail visit is going to turn these kids around for the better? One common issue I take note of in every episode is the juveniles’ situations at home. From having an incarcerated or non-existent parent to being raised by an elderly grandmother who can barely take care of herself, the problem begins at home. When you understand the root of the problem, then you are able to assess it and develop solutions to improve these kids’ situations.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe every kid raised in these types of upbringings is at-risk. I do believe your childhood environment plays a large part in your future, which is why I feel there should be more mentoring programs available for children in environments such as theirs. In one episode, an ex-inmate talked to the juveniles about her experience and I thought having a mentor could be one of the many solutions to the juveniles’ problems, or at least help them cope with whatever they have been dealing with. (A clip of this episode is below.) According to Mentoring.org, 52% of students who meet with their mentors regularly are less likely to skip school. Mentees are more likely to have higher self-esteem and better social lives. I have had the pleasure of being a Big Sister and the experience was very fulfilling. I take value in being able to impact someone’s life with just a moment of my time. Now if I feel this great about being a mentor, imaging how the child I’m mentoring may feel.
In closing, I think A&E has done a great job with this series; however, one experience is not enough to completely turn the juveniles around. There must be some additional resources available to help them STAY on the right track.
Are you interested in becoming a mentor? Click here!