But the airing of the ABC Four Corners investigation in to the treatment of children in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory has left me absolutely stunned.
There were several moments whilst watching where I found myself turning away, unable to process the emotions I was feeling in response to what I was seeing.
Images of boys as young as 12 being stripped, brutalised, beaten, gassed, held down by extreme force.
They were hooded and strapped to chairs, then left in solitary confinement, in tiny concrete cells for incomprehensible periods of time. All the while I kept thinking, this is just a small snippet of what these children experience on a daily basis.
There are those that may argue that these children are wild and need appropriate discipline. I am all for discipline but at no point, whilst watching this did I witness anything that was even remotely appropriate.
What I saw was a gross violation of human rights by the use of undignified and degrading acts of torture. I still feel sick at the thought of what I saw.
We owe it to these children, however, to not turn away. That’s what landed them in this situation in the first place; our capacity to impose punishment and turn the other cheek. The fact is that these children are already victims of the lives they came from before they have even entered these atrocious facilities. I am yet to read any studies that have shown that further victimisation of victims leads to a positive outcome.
In my line of work I have come across the toughest of the tough, so-called, hardened youth criminals. It has been my experience that if you treat these young people as people worthy of being met and not problem to be solved, they behave like people worthy of being met. Yes, this can take time but they all have a story and that story matters.
In response to issues facing young people I can usually separate out my Motherly instincts but the Four Corners investigation denied me this. Tears poured down my cheeks as I allowed myself to imagine my boys treated this way.
There were several Mothers in this country who would have had to bare witness to their babies being treated as animals. And last I checked, none of these kids had flown a plane in to the two towers or committed a mass murder. These were kids, guilty of petty crimes.
What I find most disturbing is that this treatment has been going on for years and still is. At no point last night was anyone held accountable!
If you were a parent who treated your child that way, your children would be removed and you would be up on serious child abuse charges.
These children are in the supposed care of the state, so who is going to be held responsible?
My suggestion; start with the guards who were laughing at the distress of these young boys and work your way up!
Dismantle every facet of this appalling chain of command. Only then can we begin to rebuild a system that may actually serve to rehabilitate young people in crisis.
- A “shocked and appalled” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that there will be a royal commission into the abuse of youths in the Northern Territory corrections system following the Four Corners program.