Last week, The Washington Post published a perspective article on The American tradition of caging children, by Lalitha Vasudevan. The article traces the history of youth incarcerations dating back to the country’s first juvenile court in 1899 and draws comparisons in treatment between truant children caught in the juvenile justice system and those now being detained at the border.
While some Americans have been angered and terrified by the government’s actions at the border, and some have been moved to act to help the children, we have yet to see an enriched national conversation about how we punish children and how we decide what children are worthy of our empathy.
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Let the collective outrage extend into the ongoing conversation about criminal justice reform, another area that is vulnerable to draconian actions in the name of so-called positive change. The shelters in which the 12,000 migrant children are being held currently charge $750 per day per child. Consider how else those funds could be allocated to support the flourishing, rather than detention, of young people.