|Mack was Blackfeet Indian. ( I always thought it was
Blackfoot, too). I never did understand the systems logic in placing him under the
juvenile justice system rather then under child protection. Here is his story:
Youth Services was called
when Mack began missing school. When they went to his home, they found him
caring for his 7 year old brother. The mother had left more then a week before and
Mack was too ashamed to tell anyone. The food had run out and the little brother was
sick. The elderly grandparents took the little one in, but had no room for
Mack so he was brought to me.
I had some pretty rough boys at the time and they
were not real receptive of this 13 year old, dark skinned, very long black haired, 5 foot
tall, 250 pounds child. I gave him a room of his own. My heart really
went out to this abandoned 'misfit'.
I spent alot of nights sitting on the edge of
his bed rocking him in my arms as he cried for his mother. The agency was trying to
get the father to take custody, but that was not looking good.
When he went to court for the truancy (which I
think was a real crock), the court ordered his hair cut (it was the agencies idea).
Mack felt very strongly about his heritage and beliefs. He was told if he
refused to get it cut, he would stay in detention until he agreed. I had
experienced a lot of crap from the agency, but this was up there with the worst.
He finally agreed because he did not want to be taken away.
Mack had a
'lazy eye' which gave him somewhat of a sinister appearance. He was as sentative and
gently as a bunny, but he looked so intimidating. He did not do well in school
because of the label 'JJ kid' (juvenile justice). Most of the teachers and Vice Principal
never gave him a chance. He was of average intellegence but was behind
in his classes.
One day I was at the psychiatrist with one of the
other boys when a case workes came in and let me know Mack had left school. The
circumstances were sketchy, but it was said he had hit a teacher and thrown books at
another. This proved to be an exageration. Anyway, I left the other boy with
the case worker and went to the school. I found out what actually happened.
Mack was having trouble with a project in wood shop and got frustrated. Some
kids started making fun of him. He threw down a tool and walked out. The
teacher told him to come back and he refused. He went to his locker to put up his
books when a different teacher caught him for being out of class. She man handled
him (really dumb to grab a 200 pound kid who was mad) and he slung his books on the floor
and walked out of the school.
I was not sure where I would look for Mack, but
instinct said to go home. There he was asleep on the trampoline. I woke
him up. He looked so scared. I told him to get down and then I hugged him.
I said "Mack, I am so proud of you! You didn't hit anybody and you
came home". We talked for a long time about the school and how I
knew it was so hard for him. I told him I had no idea what the school would do, but
what he decided to do would be up to him.
After some private time to think, he came up and told
me he wanted to go back to school. He wanted to apologize and take what ever
punishment they said. We called and then went in. We asked for Mr. Dobbs, the
principal who is a fair and good person, but the VP caught us. (She was a
bitch then and was for the next 6 years until they fired her). Anyway, she was
really pushing all the buttons, including mine. I took Mack and walked out.
I insisted on seeing Mr. Dobbs, no matter how long we had to wait. We
talked to him and provided all the information on the incident. He asked Mack what
he felt was appropriate under the circumstances. Mack was allowed to return to
school, he served some detention time and he made all the necessary apologies.
There was no hard feelings with the shop teacher.
He was a fair and caring person. Mack was doing really well controling his
anger. It was not easy because of the abuse he suffered on a daily basis.
About 2 weeks later the agency came and they put Mack in detention for the
incident. There was no reasoning with them. They had it in for Mack from
day one. Mack never got to come back to my home. Then they refused to let me
have any contact with him. No visits, no letters. He didn't know.
He was left to think I didn't care.
Two years passed and he was finally reunited with his
mother. Twenty months of that time was spent locked up. He called me.
That was the first he learned that I had not abandoned him. It was the agency
that terminated my contact. After that he "checked in" with me both to
tell me the happy things as well as unload his problems.
Last time I saw him, he was 17, 6'2 and still 200
pounds. Guess he just had to 'grown into his weight.
God Bless you Mack, where ever