Aside from sexually-related conversation, which is discouraged in the classroom, food is probably the number one topic of interest among juvenile inmates. After assignments are collected and they are conversing in the few minutes of free time before an officer comes to escort them out, these juveniles endlessly talk about what will be their first meal after they get released from jail. Needless to say, they’re not too thrilled with the bland institutional food they get. Burritos, burgers, cakes, cookies, and candy are among the delectable delicacies that they can’t wait to sink their teeth into. Imagine what things will be like in a post-collapse world, with gangs of hungry, vicious teenaged and adult criminals roaming the highways and byways in search of not only their dream meal but any meal. They will mercilessly attack and sometimes even kill anyone who gets in their way. It is all the more reason to be extra cautious about anyone you let into your close circle of survival friends.
Dealing with assaults
Assaults are a common occurrence in juvenile hall. Fights have broken out between juvenile inmates, and teachers have been assaulted. I got a call to sub in a classroom not too long ago, where a nearly 18-year-old inmate threw a heavy textbook at the teacher, opening up a gash in his forehead that required stitches.
I heard about another assault recently when two juveniles teamed up to “jump” another teen during lunch time. What this means is that if there is a teen or other person in your bug-out group who has this type of criminal mindset, don’t be surprised if he or she assaults someone else with absolutely no warning. If you find someone like this in your midst, you will need to be extra vigilant, even to the point of establishing a boundary area that is strictly forbidden to be crossed, a nighttime boundary, or as mentioned earlier, expulsion from the group.
Another important factor that strongly influences teenagers is peer pressure. With a normal group of teens, it may be pressure or a dare to jump off the high dive at the public pool. With teen criminals, the pressure and dares become much more dangerous.
If you have a group of teens at your bug-in or bug-out location, be prepared for the strong possibility that peer pressure could creep in. If those in your leadership are wise, they will re-direct this peer pressure in a positive direction. Maybe they can have the teens compete in the areas of “best lookout”, “best gardener”, or best in some other survival area. However, be wary of the tell-tale signs of someone being bullied: introverted, withdrawn behavior, anger, or frequently in girls they will also cut themselves.
Teens and weapons
Under no circumstances should teens be allowed to handle weapons, unless they have a safe history of doing so and have shown responsible behavior in the past. In fact, this also goes for any adults. Anyone using weapons has to first show they are responsible and trusted and also be properly trained. Also, be on the lookout for any unauthorized person who is in the habit of using any object as a weapon, even if they claim it is for “defending” himself or herself. I mentioned earlier how teen criminals routinely sharpen various objects to use as a “shank”. If you notice a teen with a shank or any object that could be used as a weapon, it will probably need to be confiscated. If they object, this is further indication they may have plans to use it in a violent manner, perhaps against you or other trusted members of your group. On the other hand, if a teen wit,h a violent past has shown true repentance and change over a period of time, you may need to arm him or her to defend the property from any outside threats. However, this is a judgment call and needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Dealing with conflict
I mentioned earlier that fights and assaults are a common occurrence in juvenile hall. In a post-collapse world, people will react in different ways. Some will sober up and endure hardship, grateful to have a meal and protection given to them by you and others in your group. Others will act the same as before, and many teens who will be forced to do work they highly dislike may react with hostility towards each other and towards those in charge.
A lot of fights break out simply because one teen continues to badger or bully another, calling them derogatory names or mocking the way he or she looks or acts. The bully may accuse the other teen of kissing up to the leadership, or accuse him or her of getting special favors. As a leader of your group, you need to be aware of these and other red flags, and deal with them swiftly and severely. I mentioned earlier boundary lines.
If a bully has been warned and continued to bother or threaten others, there could be a series of punishments, ranging from exclusion from the rest of the group for a limited time, assignment of extra weeding or other tasks, a designated boundary not to be crossed, or, in extreme examples, banishment from the group. Does this sound extreme? No, this is roughly similar to what we do in our pre-collapse society. A bully or other troubled teen could even be assigned a type of probation officer, who will meet with the teen weekly or maybe even daily to establish goals to be reached and to encourage positive behavior.
Many troubled teens can and do respond well to positive reinforcement, in spite of their background. It is up to you to be a positive role model and influence in their lives, while at the same time being on your guard. When these young people know that someone actually cares for them, many of them do have a change of heart. Unfortunately, many of them don’t. However, at the very least, we can do our part to help them to become the young men and women God designed them to be, to fulfill their potential, and become a productive member of your group.
Finally, no discussion of troubled teens would be complete without mentioning the spiritual benefit to be derived from attending daily devotions, Bible studies, and church services. Many teens and adults have truly turned their lives around through the power of God, helping them to overcome their various behavioral issues. After all, our goal is not to lose anyone but to give everyone a real chance to transform themselves and become a productive, trusted member of your group, and, on the spiritual side, to receive eternal life in heaven. We need to be firm, but we also need to be fair. I really do think that we have the awesome opportunity to help so many of our young people make a change for the better in the midst of an otherwise frightening and dangerous post-collapse world, and to help others to do so. In so doing, we will undoubtedly participate in the great revival referred to by the prophet Joel, to happen in these last days:
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” (Joel 2:28)