Tabitha’s story is one that is repeated so often that it’s tempting to call it a cliché. But it’s happening, to real people, every single day:
“When I could no longer function in a regular school setting, I was pushed into the juvenile justice system and had to attend a school with boot camp drill instructors that yelled and cursed at us daily during physical training and during normal class settings. Because of the abuse I faced on every level growing up, in addition to my experiences with the juvenile justice system, I never felt safe.
When I was 17 years old and released from the system, I literally could not function in society. “
Behavioral issues in school, getting in trouble, and wham! Instead of mental health care, you’re a criminal case. We do it to adults all the time, why would we not see it the same way with kids? Especially kids without the family means to get private care and assistance?
This is what we do, and we need to figure out something else. The criminal justice system is not mental health care.