I work with a friend doing slam poetry sessions with teenage lads who have been in trouble. I don't mean a little telling off at school. I mean kids who have been released fairly recently from juvenile detention.
I don't give a shit what people say about reoffending rates - the few kids that I come into contact with are GENUINELY REMORSEFUL. They know they've screwed up their educations and they know they've really messed up big time.
But you know what pisses me off? It's when people label these kids instantly. How on Earth can they clean up the mess if nobody will give them a dustpan and brush?
And although the courses that are available to these kids are improving, the public perception of them is pretty low and they know it too.
I want to share (with permission) something writtwn by Darren, who is 16 and has spent 9 months in juvenile detention.
You don't even know my name
I'm just an inmate number.
I done my crime
I done my time
But now that number's always mine.
I'm just a number to you
Just a hoodie wearing statistic.
But I'm armed with my clothes man
Not with no knife
So why you judge me
And why you judge my life.
You say all kinds of shit about me.
Single Mum's kid.
No Dad. Gets mad. Behaves bad.
Could be good at maths and stuff
But doesn't try hard enough.
Cries when you ask about his Dad.
And then gets mad.
Not in contact with his Mum
(Probably his own fault).
Foster parents gave up.
You make all these comments about me
And say all these things.
But you can't include my name.
I'm just a "him," or a reference number.
Hi I'm Darren and
Why can't you all just say
Darren has problems and we want to help him.
Darren made mistake and he wants to fix them.
Darren wants a job and a family one day.
Darren wants to work with computers.
Darren is trying really hard on his courses.
Darren is going to do his GCSEs this year.
Darren wants the past to stop hurting the future.
Darren is trying.
I'm not just a number man.
Give me my name back.