|Mack was Blackfeet Indian. ( I
always thought it was Blackfoot, too). I never did understand the
systems logic in placing him under the juvenile justice system
rather then under child protection. Here is his story:
Youth Services was called when
Mack began missing school. When they went to his home, they found
him caring for his 7 year old brother. The mother had left more
then a week before and Mack was too ashamed to tell anyone. The
food had run out and the little brother was sick. The elderly
grandparents took the little one in, but had no room for Mack so he
was brought to me.
I had some pretty rough boys at the time and they were not
real receptive of this 13 year old, dark skinned, very long black
haired, 5 foot tall, 250 pounds child. I gave him a room of his
own. My heart really went out to this abandoned 'misfit'.
I spent alot of nights sitting on the edge of his bed
rocking him in my arms as he cried for his mother. The agency was
trying to get the father to take custody, but that was not looking
When he went to court for the truancy (which I think was a
real crock), the court ordered his hair cut (it was the agencies
idea). Mack felt very strongly about his heritage and beliefs. He
was told if he refused to get it cut, he would stay in detention
until he agreed. I had experienced a lot of crap from the agency,
but this was up there with the worst. He finally agreed because he
did not want to be taken away.
Mack had a 'lazy eye' which
gave him somewhat of a sinister appearance. He was as
gently as a bunny, but he looked so intimidating. He did not do
well in school because of the label 'JJ kid' (juvenile justice).
Most of the teachers and Vice Principal never gave him a chance.
He was of average intelligence but was behind in his classes.
One day I was at the psychiatrist with one of the other boys
when a case worker came in and let me know Mack had left school.
The circumstances were sketchy, but it was said he had hit a teacher
and thrown books at another. This proved to be an exaggeration.
Anyway, I left the other boy with the case worker and went to the
school. I found out what actually happened. Mack was having
trouble with a project in wood shop and got frustrated. Some kids
started making fun of him. He threw down a tool and walked out.
The teacher told him to come back and he refused. He went to his
locker to put up his books when a different teacher caught him for
being out of class. She man handled him (really dumb to grab a 200
pound kid who was mad) and he slung his books on the floor and
walked out of the school.
I was not sure where I would look for Mack, but instinct said
to go home. There he was asleep on the trampoline. I woke him
up. He looked so scared. I told him to get down and then I hugged
him. I said "Mack, I am so proud of you! You didn't hit anybody
and you came home". We talked for a long time about the school
and how I knew it was so hard for him. I told him I had no idea
what the school would do, but what he decided to do would be up to
After some private time to think, he came up and told me he
wanted to go back to school. He wanted to apologize and take what
ever punishment they said. We called and then went in. We asked
for Mr. Dobbs, the principal who is a fair and good person, but the
VP caught us. (She was a bitch then and was for the next 6 years
until they fired her). Anyway, she was really pushing all the
buttons, including mine. I took Mack and walked out. I insisted
on seeing Mr. Dobbs, no matter how long we had to wait. We talked
to him and provided all the information on the incident. He asked
Mack what he felt was appropriate under the circumstances. Mack was
allowed to return to school, he served some detention time and he
made all the necessary apologies.
There was no hard feelings with the shop teacher. He was a
fair and caring person. Mack was doing really well controlling his
anger. It was not easy because of the abuse he suffered on a daily
basis. About 2 weeks later the agency came and they put Mack in
detention for the incident. There was no reasoning with them.
They had it in for Mack from day one. Mack never got to come back
to my home. Then they refused to let me have any contact with him.
No visits, no letters. He didn't know. He was left to think I
Two years passed and he was finally reunited with his
mother. Twenty months of that time was spent locked up. He called
me. That was the first he learned that I had not abandoned him.
It was the agency that terminated my contact. After that he
"checked in" with me both to tell me the happy things as well as
unload his problems.
Last time I saw him, he was 17, 6'2 and still 200 pounds.
Guess he just had to 'grown into his weight.
God Bless you
Mack, where ever you are.