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Juvenile Abuse: We Owe It To The Children To Not Turn Away

Juvenile Detention Abuse: We Owe It To The Children To Not Turn Away1

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.

Juvenile Detention Abuse: We Owe It To The Children To Not Turn Away2
The disturbing pictures of juvenile abuse have shocked the nation.

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.

Juvenile Detention Abuse: We Owe It To The Children To Not Turn Away2

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.

Written by Jules Allen

Jules Allen is a former MasterChef contestant and a single mother with four children who has been a foster mother to 29 children over the past 15 years.

Jules considers herself as an ‘earth mother’. With four kids: two sons, Jay and Ishy (16 and 17), daughters Elisha (21) and India (18). Her family is a blend of her own, adopted and foster children.

The importance of good food in healing damaged lives is paramount to Jules, and she does this by raising awareness through school talks around the country and encouraging the next generation to do what they can to make a difference.

Jules is an ambassador for Meals On Wheels - an organisation legendary across Australia for its work in providing nutritious meals on a daily basis to those in need.

Her contribution to foster care and child protection, her charity work for many organisations, including helping rebuild Women’s and Children’s refuge in the Soloman Islands, and her ambassador roles for National Adoption Awareness, Foster Care Australia, the Pjama Foundation and Brookfarm, were recently recognised by the ABC’s Australian Story, who featured an in- depth story on Jules’ dedication, commitment and contribution to many deserving charities.

She has just launched her Waccii Nurturing Tea company, with all profits supporting Waccii (Women’s and Children’s Care Initiative Incorporated).

Jules Allen is a contributing Parent expert for The Carousel.

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