Prison School Tours

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Faerie (September 29, 2010, 09:41:23 AM):
I'm in two minds about this, and am interested in your thoughts.

My lad (14 and in grade 7), "must" go on a school tour to Leeupoort Prison in the new term. The school has been having trouble with discipline for the last couple years, and have put some very odd measures in place attempting to curb the smut. The extent of the problem is rather big, plenty of bullying and the like going on - the problem also rearing its head due to the ages of some of the kids - at 15/16 you should not be in primary school anymore...

Since then, they have seperated the boys from the girls, staggered the break times by gender and age and also seperated the exit routes from school by gender and age. The only reason I kept my son there was because he only had around 18 months or so left before high school and that he didnt want to leave at that point.

My son's of the more quiet type, he'll state his case but would rather withdraw from conflict than incite it with undue arguments.

Now the school wants them (the boys only) to attend two days at the Leeupoort Prison where they'll be exposd to "no punches held", "in the face" reality of prison.

I disagree, on the one side, the majority 13/14 year olds are still just little kids. Their emotional maturity might not be up to "in the face" reality, they, after all, still lust after Hannah Montana and think Camp Rock is the ultimate movie EVER.

On the other hand, there are the handful problem children, whom this type of outing might benefit. But I dont know, I personally dont think kids that age really have enough life savvy to associate prison with bullying and/or typical boyish naughtiness, it might even appear glamorous to them.

I'm also not a parent that raised my kids with fear, and the newsletter just screams this to me - putting the fear of prison/god/hell/whatever it is into someone is objectionable to me, I dont believe in that type of control, logic and rationality has always worked for me as a form of discipline. I've never had to threaten either my sons with anything, I would simply point out to them what might go wrong or what DID go wrong and it worked wonders on their behaviour.

I think the idea might be viable for older kids - 17/18 year olds perhaps, which is generally also the age that things can go mightly wrong .

Opinions? Would you let your son of 14 go?
Lilli (September 29, 2010, 10:00:17 AM):
Faerie from what you have said on this forum about your sons before, I think they seem to be level-headed, clever boys who think critically and make their own decisions (and understand that they will be responsible for their decisions and the consequences associated therewith) I don't think that a field trip to prison will be of particular educational value to your son (because I don't think he needs to be 'scared' into behaving properly) On the other hand, I suppose a lot of kids that age might well benefit from such an experience. We are presented with a picture of serving a prison sentence as punishment for a crime from shows like 'prison break' and I think the general picture of prison that kids may have does appear glamorous. In reality, prisons are not happy spaces, and maybe kids should be shown the harsh reality (if only to teach them that there's a difference between life and the movies, and expose them to a reality that your average law-abiding citizen knows nothing about) exposure, in my view, is always a good thing)
plus... field trips are fun :P
Seriously though, I don't think your son will be harmed by it, and I do think that those kids on their way to juvenile detention centres may benefit from it. So I don't see the harm :-\
GCG (September 29, 2010, 10:06:17 AM):
im not a parent, so i might not be the best person to ask, but i feel that a reality check for some kids are in order.
now obviously, a school cant exactly pick certain problem kids to go, coz the parents will have puppies, so the good kids have to go too.
i think that, by the time they reach 17/18, the impressionability is long gone, and they have allready got set ideas about what defines them, and if drugs/bullying/sex etc is what makes them cool, then a tour through the chookie isnt going to change that.
i think, that when they are just getting smart enough to make up their minds about stuff, but still impressionable enough to have the living bejesus scared out of them.
what im seeing and hearing, scares the living bejesus out of ME. how kids are acting, towards peers, parents, and authority figures. they need to have a taste of what 'being cool' entails. and the consequences of a dick.
but then, i think, everyone should go, girls and boys. and not just visit the prison. visit hospitals with people dying of Aids. visit rehabs where people are getting over meth and coke and heroin. see people emaciated by drug use. see people in wheelchairs from drunk driving. they need to be shown that the popular idea of being cool, isnt all that cool.
the school needs to get speakers in, that can attest to firsthand experience with drugs, booze, sexual promiscuity. they need to be shown what a junkie looks like. they need to hear from young people who ended up in jail because of shit.
cause kids think they are immortal. they think they are smarter than the system. that they will never get caught. just having them go for a walkabout in the chookie, isnt really going to impart the message the school is hoping to impart.
mdg (September 29, 2010, 11:27:59 AM):
Hi Faerie, my son went on this field trip when he was still at school and it made a huge impression on him and I'm glad he saw first hand what happens to people if they break the law. He was also 14 at the time.

I don't want to go into details, but we are indirectly related (by marriage)to someone who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It infuriated me that the boys in our family looked up to this gangster and thought he was "cool". The trip to prison was an excellent wake up call for my son. He said he never ever wanted to end up in a jail, and it gave us an opportunity to talk to him about why this "relative" is not someone he should look up to.

I also like to think my son is also level headed and intelligent enough to know right from wrong, but like GCG says, kids think they're immortal and when kids are young they only see the bling and the proceeds gained from the crimes, they don't think about how these things were obtained.

I think you should let your son go, it will be an experience he won't forget.


Brian (September 29, 2010, 14:48:01 PM):
#Faerie: many years ago I was a Judge's Registrar (Pta) and my judge and I were obliged to visit prisons on an ad hoc basis without warning and we did so to Cinderella (Benoni/Boksburg) Pietersburg etc. It was quite traumatic for me as a 20 year old but I don't think that's what the children will be exposed to; jails are however depressing places and to see youths locked up sometimes awaiting trial, and mostly quite tragic is a reality check as GCG says. As parent it's obviously your call and it sounds as if he's quite capable of coping: one reaction is that they take it seriously and learn; the other possibility is that they become dismissive and try to be cool; the third is that they could develop a misplaced feeling of guilt. I trust the teachers have prepared them properly ( a non threatening approach and psychologically mature...the teachers I mean?) Difficult to call.


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