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Re: “Could limiting solitary for juveniles heal Spring Creek?

It is very encouraging that so much effort is being put into finding ways to interact with youth rather than isolate them. There is no one "right" way to interact with youth. However, putting youth in conditions of complete social isolation is unlikely affect their lives for the better.

One of my favorite West Wing episodes involves the wholehearted and sincere efforts of the character "C.J." to interact with a young man, "Anthony." The character of "Anthony" is completely at loose ends. He is a very good kid with a great heart who is rapidly heading down a road to some real trouble. "C.J." is understandably very concerned and empathizes with his situation and wants to spend time to help him.

Her efforts to tolerantly and patiently understand him and help him turn his life around are completely ineffective. She is very humane, has a great heart, and is making no head-way. The episode continues with the character of "Charlie" basically telling "Anthony" that his life is going down a really bad road and he's way out of line. Then "Charlie" basically says he is now willing to spend many hours of time he really doesn't have in order to support "Anthony" in turning his situation around. "Anthony" takes him up on this, and things improve.

As a person who is naturally a lot more like "C.J." in this kind of situation, I think it is worth pointing out that this approach did absolutely nothing to positively impact "Anthony's" life. In other cases, though, it might have worked wonderfully. The point is that everyone is different.

Having a humane perspective towards life doesn't mean that we all need to act in the same ways. It means that we need to recognize the humanity in our fellow human beings and try to help them as best we can. Neither "C.J." nor "Charlie" advocated locking "Anthony" in a closet and hoping for the best. That is not a humane solution.

Sometimes we need to try lots of different things to try to help people. If we are not succeeding we need to recognize this and let others try as well. We need to see the inherent dignity and worth of every single person. No one is a lost cause. No one grows from being locked in a closet. If something is not working, we should try something else.

A gentle attitude towards life does not mean that there is one way of doing things. It means that we see in each person the same wonderful humanness that we see in ourselves. It means that we truly want the best possible future for every single person. We want everyone to be all that they are capable of, feel cared about and be happy. We want everyone to be able to contribute something to the world. What this gentle attitude towards life looks like for each of us will be different, based on our own personalities. None is right or wrong as long as our way of being leads to healing, growth, and happiness for others, and doesn't tear people down and make them feel miserable.

Locking people in small spaces and hoping for the best is not a constructive way of relating to life. No one is to blame for this practice, as it has been going on for a long time likely without a great deal of discussion or opportunity for change. But it is good we are now thinking about.

Socially isolating people is a way of giving up on people for sometimes prolonged periods of time. It is not a gentle attitude towards life. This is why I am very glad that things are changing so that every person has the opportunity to live, and grow, and be happy.

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Posted by zoewyse on 05/10/2016 at 12:31 AM

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