I am surrounded by a lot of talk of jail recently. I don’t know why, but it seems to be trending pretty seriously over the last few weeks.
Sometimes, it’s a teacher giving the “what do you want your life to be?” lecture, which ends up involving a “wouldn’t this be terrible?” piece about life in prison. In other conversations, it’s parents trying to get their kids to wake up, describing how hard it would be for the kid to live there and how hard it would be for Mom to see her kid that way. This inevitably involves a vivid description of the nearby juvenile detention facility and frequent use of its affectionate local nickname.
That the juvenile detention facility is an easy walk from our school and even has an affectionate local nickname should be concerning enough.
What’s even more concerning is the messaging kids must get when they hear this all the time. I know these people mean well, but I’m actually really uncomfortable with threatening kids in such a way. When I was growing up, not a single person ever even suggested the possibility that I might end up in jail. It was never on my radar, and hence was pretty solidly out of the question. I get nervous that having these conversations puts a depressing idea into kids’ minds.
At my old school, people used “working at McDonald’s” as the threat, and I’m not sure how it’s escalated so severely since then. It has to be hard to be a kid when we talk college when they’re doing well and jail as soon as they mess up. I thought we decided Scared Straight was ineffective?