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  • Prison Prevention

Just Listen

How do you keep a kid out of prison? Start by creating relationships. As Joe Smith often says, “Just love on them!”

Carolyn Drew holds the title of Prevention Specialist at PPM and one of her recent experiences working in the schools shows that we all have a simple gift to share with our youth. Recently, Carolyn was at Gateway spending time with the kids as she often does. The classroom was chaotic when she walked in the room. One of the girls she mentors was annoyed and becoming very agitated, so they sat together in a private area.

“While we were talking, she became emotional and began sharing how things were at home. She doesn't ever feel she can be ‘good enough,’” Carolyn says. “Her mom works two jobs, so she takes care of the household including a family member with severe health problems, and deals with the challenges of two siblings. No one acknowledges how much she does to keep the house running. Instead of noticing how hard she works to help, her mother seems only to focus on what she does wrong.

“As she became more emotional the rest of the story unfolded. Her dad is incarcerated, and she’s suffered traumatic experiences throughout her childhood. Once her dad abused her mother until she lost consciousness. That situation made her feel helpless.”

Eventually she admitted she doesn't feel like she matters to anyone. Carolyn put her hand on her arm, locked eyes with her and said, “You matter to me. You are the main reason I come to the school.”

The young teenage girl put her head on Carolyn’s shoulder and cried. Then she said, "No one ever takes the time to listen to how I feel."

Carolyn says, “That struck me so hard because I realized the problem with so many of the kids is that they feel that they aren't important enough for someone to just listen. They aren't looking for someone to fix their problems, they just want to know that someone cares enough to take time to simply listen.”

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