Culture Nature

Culture, Nature & Freedom: Treating Juvenile Offenders. Essay, Research Paper

Culture, Nature & Freedom: Treating Juvenile Offenders.


Argiro, T.

W. Civ. 205

December 12,1996

In Kansas, Juvenile offenders are sent to ?Youth Centers?. These are merely

Child prisons, lockdown facilities for kids. This style of treatment goes

against every idea of growth put forward in this class. In this paper I will try

to justify the use of residential treatment schemes through the ideas found in

several of this semesters authors; including T.Huxtley, Rousseau, DuBois, Freud,

A.Huxtley, and Mill. The Ideals set forth by these intellectuals should be the

basis for all treatment, to better the individuals and society.

First, We can look to DuBois. He believes that people can change their own

consciousness. He shows this through his Immersion narrative. This can’t work

in a youth center. The only cultural ideal here is the Master/slave dialectic

between staff and youth. The sides work apart. The two can’t join because one

does not experience the other. There is no way to be ?above the veil? of their

status. In a residential treatment modality, Relationship building is key to

success. The youth need to feel the veil has been lifted. It allows them to

explore safely and see the world in a greater view. The view as other is removed

and a true balance displaces the master / slave one.

Next, we can look at Mills Ideas on culture. He would like to elevate the

morals of the human mind. To do this, we must continually test the standard. New

ideas must be able to circulate freely. We must weigh how all actions effect

others. This can not be done in these Youth centers as well. They have very

specific codes and any questioning is reprimanded. Cultural influx is at a

standstill and Censor ship is at it’s highest possible level. A residential

treatment modality gives all ideas a free shot. Self Government, A system used

by the youth assures a safe environment to share all feedback and new ideas

openly, to non judgmental ears. it looks at how one’s action are related to

others and provides a ?safe place’ for all expression. Allowing ideas to stay

fresh and moral stability and growth to flourish.

This leads us directly to the dehumanization described by T.H. Huxtley. First,

we have the effects of Social-Darwinism. We are using our own projections of

nature for a model. These children are being culturally pushed aside for

progress, stuck in mini prisons. Where, rather than fix problems, we push them

into suffering so that we may achieve gains. Then there is the idea of the

gospel of wealth. Why help these kids? My money is a product of an evolutionary

force, so is there placement. Helping would only interrupt their punishment.

These Youth Centers also rob them of their ability to meet the goals of our

society’s Protestant work ethic. They have no contribution! These three things

let us dehumanize these children and put their responsibility off on others.

Residential treatment, on the other hand, removes the gospel of wealth

mentality; earn as much as you want, monetary forces are not evolutionary.

Intervention is key to Residential Treatment, no punishment of lower classes.

This system makes everyone equal. This flows into the work ethic removal as well,

everyone contributes and the group benefits. No individual benefit is given out.

If one is good, then all are good. Finally, it erases the mask of Social-

Darwinism. The youth work to meet goals for each other. No one wants to be above

the rest. A strong whole help everyone individually as well. A week whole causes

resentment and jealousy.

A look at Wiesel gives us insight to the effect of the political institution on

these Centers. Are these kids a product of our culture? If so how do we keep

this from occurring? The answer is not to lock them up. What family bonds were

available? Instead of locking the kids up, we need to find our mistake!

Rationality has an opportunity to fail here. Residential treatment lets

everyone be separate and define their own meanings of life, between being and

life itself. This helps each youth find meaning in life virtue of their own


From here we can move to A. Huxtley. His views show what would happen if culture

completely displaced nature in society. This translates to the society of a

youth Center. Youth Centers are completely denaturalized, almost to the point of

being sterile. The futures of these youth should not be predestined, and mapped

out as in a youth center. Here progress is mapped. In a residential style

treatment setup the social control is through self government and peer

interactions, not a cultural controlling body. Also the myth of progress is

dismantles. Residential treatment looks for change not progress. These ongoing

changes allow for humanness. There is an availability of true human values, not

just the pop culture presented in the prison center.

Finally, we can look at Freud. His ideas link the behaviors exhibited to inner

problems with family and society. He brings into question the moral and

cultural values instilled by other institutions such as church and school. He

trys to place things in several different categories. First, The Eros and

Thantos Dialectic. Agressivity hang in the balance here. Our family structure

should let us put the primary agressivity we have in check. Regardless, Freud

looks to the person and the cultural venue for answers. A youth center is only a

storage facility. There is no therapeutic gain achieved in these Child Prisons.

They merely use reactive measures to stop behaviors, instead of looking for

antecedents proactively. Once again residential treatment has an edge. Through

the self government, relationship building process, and cultural challenges, the

youth in these settings work on the exterior antecedents that may be effecting

their behaviors . This ,in addition to clearing the distorted cultural view,

also provides a venue for problem solving and rational discussions of ideas. It

provides a vehicle for the youth to begin the self searching required to look

into some of these ideas and find a better reality. Growth and gain for all is

the key. For Freud, this is achieved by keeping drives in check between the

pleasure principle, our moral super ego, and the authoritative ?I? in the ego.

Again, this is only done in residential settings. Youth Centers only house

children, hampering all these abilities spoken about above.

I believe that the question of how to rehabilitate Juvenile Offenders is simple.

We must Fix kids instead of locking them up. The Ideas presented here are the

most sound way to do that. These theories allow for mental growth, equality,

change and freedom from censorship to new ideas. This is exactly what these

youth need. Their culture has limited them and placed a veil over them in

society. Residential treatment is the only way to remedy this. The safety of

idea exchange and the freedom of growth allow for each youth to develop the

personality needed to question the right things and put the cultural puzzle

together. Youth centers only let them sit, and ponder the only culture they know.

This makes the group Fester and fall further down the rungs of the societal

ladder. This setup only hardens the veil of separation between the troubled

youth and society. As you can see residential treatment is the only alternative

to give these youth a chance to gain the skills needed for life today.


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