[What follows continues the posts from the past two days.]
Here's John's list of life issues that compose a large part of his reality.
Education. Amazingly,John does fairly well in school in spite of the fact that no adult in his world seems to be involved or pays much attention. he is bright and good. Bemoaning a lack of parental involvement in the public schools in a city like Dallas wastes energy, time and breath. The adults in John's world cannot be counted on to lift test scores, attend the school's PTA meetings, provide encouragement or demand better educational options, strategies or administration. Others will need to fill that gap for John. But without a supre-charged educational experience the likelihood of John escaping his extremely limted world is slim indeed.
A clear understanding of the world John navigates daily should provide our community more than enough motivaton to act boldly, radically, and creatively to make sure he experiences only the very best in education. Our public schools must step up to the challenge of standing with John. Simply put, my little friend John deserves the very best we have to offer.
Criminal Justice and Addiction. John watches out for himself because the adults in his world, almost every one of them, are crack cocaine addicts. Given the manner in which our criminal justice system deals with addicts, objectivity would push me to say John's world is filled with adults who are, for the most part, "hopeless" addicts.
On numerous occasions John and his young cousin, another one of my players, have witnessed the arrest of several of the adults (including their closest family members) who use and sell drugs off of their front porch. City, county and state criminal justice authorities investigate, raid, arrest and incarcerate; but they seldom treat addicts. The system that periodically takes the most significant adults out of John's life to jail or to prison, never returns them to him in any better condition psychologically or spiritually.
The idea of placing these adults back in his world with new skills that might lead to gainful employment outside the "drug industry" never seems to cocur to anyone involved. Apparently very few consider treatment for addiction either. The criminal justice system's answer to durg addition boils down to containment and incarceration.
Children like John receive little or no assistance from Child Protective Services. Operating with severely limited resources (including far too few foster families), under-staffed and over-worked, an over-burdened CPS system cannot respond adequately or effectively to the thousands of children in Dallas County who live in places and with adults like John. He deserves better from all of us.
[For the final post on John and the challenges of his life drop in tomorrow.]