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Session Themes: What Youth Want You to Know

Listening Session Summary: What Youth Want You to Know About Them

This Session Themes section of the Summary presents the ideas and experiences shared by youth during the listening session with youth. It shares what the youth want policy makers, corrections, and youth-serving programs to know about them. All youth who participated in the listening session have reviewed this language and have agreed that this accurately represents their perspective.

  • We rely on our own inner strength
  • We often grow up too soon taking on responsibilities:
    • Taking care of younger siblings
    • Getting jobs to help with family finances
    • Negotiating care such as physical and mental health services
    • Navigating systems and avoiding negative attention from child welfare or human services who might take us or our siblings away

“The toughest thing [about my father’s incarceration] is seeing my mom struggle with money.”

  • We face difficulties with the absence of a parent:
    • Missing big events like holidays and graduation
    • Missing small activities like helping with homework and going to sporting events
    • Missing everyday opportunities like being a role model

“You become mentally incarcerated with your parent.”

  • We are misjudged by many and negatively judged because of our parent(s) or our parent’s actions
  • We are sometimes told we will turn out like our parent(s) and we are constantly fighting against and running from that judgment
  • We have different experiences than other youth whose parent is absent for another reason like divorce:
    • Not being able to pick up the phone and talk to our parent any time we want
    • Not being able to hug our parent during a visit
    • Judged differently

“It’s hard when you have no one to talk to.”

  • We have different experiences even from each other:
    • Living with our parent or not
    • Knowing or having a relationship with our incarcerated parent or not
    • Being told the truth about the incarceration or not
    • Being involved with child welfare or not
    • Being involved with juvenile justice or not
  • We are not different from other youth in that we are young people, too, with the same needs and wants:
    • To be loved
    • To have support
    • To be successful
    • To have friends
  • We do not have control over the situation which is difficult:
    • We don’t know what to expect with the incarceration process or when visiting our parent in a facility
    • We don’t know with any certainty when we will be able to talk to or see our parent again

“Not knowing how long your parent has until you see them again. Anything can happen in prison, you can get killed or hurt really bad. When you see your mom or dad, you look at them like it’s your last visit. That’s something I feel.”

» Return to the overview of the Listening Session Summary page.
» Return to Youth Perspectives page.

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