This article is for the parents or guardians of an incorrigible boy that fits this description. He is between age 13 and 17, has not committed any serious crimes, is not heavily involved with drugs or alcohol, and lives in a middle-class neighborhood. I mention this because I only feel qualified to offer my advice to those whose story somewhat matches mine.
Message for the Incorrigible Boy
This article was also written for you. It is my intent that it helps you understand yourself and your situation better. It’s also my hope that it inspires you to use your energy to create positive things in your life and avoid the predicaments I got into.
Here’s my story. It’s pretty long, so if you don’t have the time to read it now, send yourself a link using one of the sharing buttons at the bottom of the page or bookmark it.
Here we go…
Heartbreak and terror instantly returned when I opened my eyes and realized where I was. I was locked up in a jail cell at police headquarters in my hometown.
It was hauntingly strange to be locked up in a cell. The thought of not being able to leave that space was hard to handle, but not as hard as how I got there.
The prior day I was laying on my bed at home when suddenly the door flew opened, two police officers rushed in, and one of them handcuffed me while the other held me in place. They escorted me out the front door of the house I’d lived in since birth in handcuffs, placed me into a police car, and took me to jail. I had just returned home after being gone (run away) for 7-14 days. I had returned home to “talk things over” with my mother and stepfather. I was to take a nap and get something to eat before we talked.
My parents had called the police and set a process into motion that made me a “ward of the court.” That act gave the court legal authority to decide where I’d live in the future. Knowing that my parents had put me in jail was the hardest part of being there. Let’s go back to the jail story.
I had learned the night before that I would go before a judge who would determine my fate on Tuesday morning. It was Sunday morning so I had to stay in that cell for at least two more days.
On Tuesday morning, police officers attached me and five other kids to a long chain with handcuffs attached. We were going to court, which was across the street. We got there using an underground walkway used exclusively to transport inmates.
Once we arrived at the courthouse, we were all put into a large holding cell. We were instructed to put on our “street” clothes, which were given to us just before we left the jail.
One guy was given a suit that someone had brought that day for his court appearance. As soon as the police officers left, he immediately removed the metal coat hanger from the suit and began fashioning it into what I later realized was a noose-like device. He attached it to a vent in the ceiling, stood on a bench, and started trying to jump into the noose. A black kid called out to him (a white kid), “Why do you want to do that? Don’t you love yourself, man.” I thought, “Not at the moment I don’t. But suicide is too permanent.”
After making several quick attempts that did not come close to being successful, he gave up. You could see that his chin got cut up pretty badly as he sat on the bench with a dazed look and just let the blood run down his neck and chest. We didn’t call for help right away because by the time we realized that the kid was seriously trying to kill himself it was over. A minute later, a police officer walked by, saw the bleeding kid, and took action to help him.
When I walked into the courtroom and saw the look on my mom, dad, and stepfather’s face, I knew that my fate had already been decided. I was being “sent up” as they say “inside.” I was being placed in a boys’ home or another similar facility like a military academy. There was one problem though — there were no openings at either of the two boys’ homes that my parents and court representative (probation officer I think) preferred. So I had to go to a juvenile hall until an opening became available.
The juvenile hall they sent me to was located in South Central Los Angeles. That’s gang territory. I would spend four months in juvenile hall, which was an usually long stay, before being moved to a boys’ home.
I was 15 years old. I had not broken any laws except leaving home before age 18. The common term is runaway. The legal term is incorrigible. Why did I run away? There were three reasons.
- My stepfather (died 2005) was extremely strict and hard on me. This was expressed with excessive whoopings, restrictions, and humiliating punishments. There was also emotional abuse, which I did not recognize as being such until years later.
- My mother (died 2012) and stepfather argued almost every day. Although both were equally guilty, part of the cause was my mother’s secretive buying binges that created severe financial hardship. The constant tensions left my two sisters and me with very little parental support. Our parents were too wrapped up in their own problems to see what may have been going on with us.
- The breaking point came when I got involved with a girl who became the first love of my life and my stepfather would not allow me to see her. He said he did this because he believed we were doing drugs, “messing around” (sexually), and her parents were a bad influence. I didn’t even know what “drugs” were nor did I know much about sex at that point. Both of her parents were well-respected “teachers” in the same school district and educational level (middle school) as we were. So the only way I could see her was to run away, which I did.
My mother was good to me. She often tried to manage my stepfather’s overly aggressive parenting style. The trouble began when I started defending myself with him. He was a very tough guy, so it wasn’t easy.
My mom felt bad about my incarceration. I never told her how much it hurt me. Instead, I told her about the good things that came out of it, and there were a few. My stepfather didn’t seem to be bothered by it at the time. He later apologized for his abusive treatment of me on his deathbed. Long before that time, however, he and I had developed a fairly good adult relationship.
I was very hesitate to include derogatory information about my parents in this article. I decided to include it for these reasons. (1.) I believe they would agree with it and would not object to having it in this article. (2) This information is an important part of the story. (3) The article’s ability to help others in a similar situation would be diminished without it.
15-foot walls surrounded the juvenile hall. Each kid was assigned a tiny room-like cell. The cells had cinder block walls, one outside window secured by a super heavy screen mesh, and a solid wooden door with a small window that was locked each night. The only time that I would relax was after that door was locked.
Fights were a regular occurrence. At my middle school back home, there might be a few fights a year. In juvenile hall, there were fights almost daily. Most of them were gang or racially motivated.
The majority of the inmates were non-white kids from poor neighbors were violence was a normal part of daily life. Many of them were gang members. Being a white blond-haired kid from an all-white middle-class neighborhood, it was quite a culture shock.
I began a serious exercise program for the first time in my life as soon as I arrived to bulk up so that I could protect myself. Each day I’d do push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks in my cell.
I experienced several incidents of racially motivated bullying. I didn’t understand it at first, but I soon learned to hold my own. It left me feeling bitter for a number of years, but I eventually overcame my prejudice feelings.
Overall though, I met and became friends with some great guys of many different races during my stay in juvenile hall and especially at the boys’ home. To this day, I easily make friends with people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. If there was one positive thing to come out this experience, it would be this.
The boys’ home was a pretty nice place. Although most of my memories of being there are fairly good, there was talk amongst the boys about jargon-like behavior by certain counselors. Nothing ever happened to me, but looking back there were some so-called pedophile “grooming” maneuvers by a couple staff members. To learn more read my article entitled, “How to Spot a Pedophile.”
Most of the counselors and staff were fine men. I had suspicions about certain individuals, but I was too inexperienced to know for sure. I found out rather recently via Internet searches, that several of the counselors that I knew had been exposed as being pedophiles by the legal system. It’s important that I point out that I have no personal knowledge of any illegal pedophile activity occurring at the boys’ home.
The person in charge of the boys’ home is and always has been a rock solid man with the utmost integrity. I had great respect for him just as every other kid and staff member did.
I would suspect by now with all of the recent pedophile convictions of trusted authority figures, that the counselors there today are extremely well screened and monitored. I’ve also noticed by visiting the boys’ home website that their program has gotten much more sophisticated.
I got into some trouble when I first arrived at the boys’ home, but I ended up being appointed to one of the most coveted positions. I also graduated with honors, which entitled me to access to a fund that paid for college tuition, books, and supplies on a case by case basis.
I really don’t have anything negative to say about the boys’ home. I would recommend it with this caveat. Only send your boy to a facility like this as a last resort. Here’s why.
Caution in Sending Him Away
By sending him away, he is removed from the social and educational progression with friends he may have known since elementary school. The act can also ostracize him from his peers. Most people look upon being in a boys’ home with suspicion, which is understandable.
When I returned to my hometown high school during my senior year after graduating from the boys’ home, I was completely out of the social loop. Friends who I had known since elementary school avoided me. I had trouble figuring out where I fit in.
When I started attending college a couple of years later, I had to spend an incredible amount of time in the learning assistance center to catch up on basic skills. I had to do this because of disruptions in my education and the schools at the boys’ home and especially at juvenile hall were substandard. All the time I spent in the learning assistance center paid off though. I graduated with honors. 🙂
I never felt that my rebellious behavior as a 15 year old boy warranted incarceration and placement in a boys’ home. I didn’t fit the mold or have a criminal record like most of the other inmates. I wasn’t a violent kid before or during my incarceration, but I got into fights with very little provocation after I got out. After one particularly absurd act of violence, I stopped fighting though.
This particular fight happened a few months after I enrolled at my hometown high school. I was playing softball in gym class. I hit a ball long and was running around the bases when a kid got in my way. I interpreted it, based on (ridiculous) “prison rules,” as an act of disrespect. So I beat him up very badly right there and then. When I saw his bruised and swollen face with a look of utter humiliation later on in the locker room, I knew that I would never do that to another person again. And I haven’t. I don’t even like to watch boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA) “cage” fighting on television.
My adjustment back into “normal” society was a challenge. It took me years to break completely free of the “prison rules” mentality. I dealt with my time in jail, juvenile hall, and the boys’ home by focusing on the positive things I gained. I secretly felt a sense of pride for having successfully lived through it. It did toughen me up, but not always in a good way. When I reached 18 and the choice of joining the military was presented to me, I didn’t feel it would provide any more benefit than I had gotten in the boys’ home.
Looking back, do I feel that my parents made a good choice in sending me away? I’ll put it this way. I do feel that putting me in jail and juvenile hall was a huge mistake. Being at the boys’ home, however, may have been a healthier environment during that stage of my life than living at home. Had my home been a place of harmony and support, I would have been better off there. Disruptions to my social and educational progression by being incarcerated took a toll.
There are no substitutes for a child that comes close to living in a peaceful home with both of their natural parents. Those who say that divorce is sometimes a better choice for children than living with fighting parents are offering a patch with holes in it, not a fix. The fix is preparation, maturity, and intelligent mate selection “before” marriage and especially before having children. I discuss this fix and present ideas on how to go about it in several articles at Solotopia.com.
Advice for Parents
Do not ever put your child in jail or juvenile hall unless he or she has committed a very serious crime. It messes up your head to be in such a place, and it’s twice as bad if your parents put you there.
Placement to a boys’ home may be a good idea if the home environment in which the boy is in is detrimental to his psychological and social development. In other words, if he’s living in a home environment that does not positively support his transition into manhood, then a boys’ home or another facility might be advisable.
An incorrigible boy needs a strong father figure in his life. But he needs one that provides equal measures of toughness, love, and independence. A father must give his teenage son the freedom to explore and learn things on his own. And he must do this even if he knows that his son will likely run into a wall. A father can lead and guide an incorrigible boy, but trying to control him forcibly is a mistake. If a father has “earned” his boy’s respect and has also given some back, forcible control and corporal punishment will never be needed.
I remember asking a friend who was a very motivated, smart, and well-behaved boy of 16 how his father disciplined him? I was expecting him to tell me that his dad whooped the tar out of him if he got out of line. He said, “My father disciplined me with a look. I respected and loved him so much that I never wanted to get ‘the’ look.” I was shocked! I couldn’t imagine it then. Now I can.
If a father gives more criticism and punishment than support and love, his son will reject him by being rebellious. True lasting respect isn’t gained through fear, it’s earned through love.
Thoughts for Incorrigible Boys
You’re a spirited and independent thinking boy who is in a transition to becoming a man. Once you do, you will be 100 percent responsible for your choices. Right now, you’re about 90 percent responsible. Why only 90 percent? Because your brain is not yet fully developed and you are still under the care and supervision of your parents.
Instead of wasting your energy on self-destructive activities, be smart and direct it toward self-improvement activities. Then you’ll get all the courage, confidence, respect, and money you want. And there’s a bonus too! You’ll attract the best women. 🙂
Your future will be determined by the choices you make today! Just do what your gut tells you to do.
Connect to the Law of Attraction
There an interesting part to this story that relates to the Law of Attraction. The LofA states that you bring into your life what you focus on most.
When I was a young kid about 11-14, I watched an academy award-winning movie called “Boys Town” starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. I thought it would be great to be in a place like that. From then on, I often imagined living at Boys Town. It was also during this time when I learned that one of my movie heroes, Steve McQueen, had been sent to a boys’ home at the insistence of his stepfather. I also identified with the main character in the early movie renditions of Mark Twain’s novels about Tom Sawyer. The books and movies describe Tom’s adventures after he ran away from home.
Some years after I left the boy’s home, I continually imagined being a corporate executive with a corner office with lush landscaping outside the window. Coming from where I did it seemed impossible, but I held on to the dream nevertheless. (Statistically, the chances of a boy becoming highly successful after being incarcerated in the places and to the duration that I was is very low.)
10 years later, I was working in a management position for a major well-known corporation. Several years afterward, I had a senior management position that placed me in an office exactly like the one I described.
When I first learned about the Law of Attraction, I immediately recalled these stories. So it was a concept that rang true for me and answered a lot of questions. That old saying, “Be careful of what you wish for.” is the central principle of the LofA!
It was a huge stretch for me to return to these memories, write about them, and then share them publicly. I did it with the intent that you; father, mother, or son (young man); might benefit.