Parent of Juvenile Delinquent
This is Carla. Carla is currently living alone in the home she helped create for her family sixteen years ago. Her husband, Paul, recently left her after the family fell on hard times.
Carla’s oldest daughter, Chandra, doesn’t come home from college anymore since it happened. She barely even calls, attempting to distance herself from the troubles in the home town as much as possible. That trouble, of course, being Jeremy’s recent arrest.
Jeremy is the youngest of Carla’s two children. Jeremy, age sixteen, is facing felony charges for attempted murder. It was a robbery gone wrong, according to the detectives. Jeremy had agreed to help his friends steal some guns from the basement of one of their relatives’ home. When the relative returned home early and caught the boys, Jeremy instinctively fired. Fortunately, the man survived, but the boys have been arrested and are now awaiting trial.
Word spreads fast in a small town. Everyone seems to know what Jeremy did and most have formed opinions on the entire family as a result. Chandra chooses not to come home where everyone wants to ask questions about the event. Paul left shortly after the arrest, stating that he had always told Carla that she was raising Jeremy wrong and now she’d have to clean up the mess she made all by herself.
Carla never raised Jeremy to be a criminal, and she certainly didn’t raise him to be an attempted murderer. There was just always something a little off about Jeremy. He seemed to get in trouble more than other kids. He didn’t have a real firm grasp of his personal convictions, choosing instead to often be a follower. He could never manage to choose good people to follow, though, either.
Around town, rumors have been circulating that Carla and Paul, themselves, are involved in criminal activities. Absurd statements about their personal characters have become common. Until Jeremy got in trouble, though, Carla had a strong group of friends that believed the best about her. As soon as the trouble arrived, they all disappeared into the woodwork and now she is the most frequent topic of conversation around the coffee shop table when they get together.
Carla feels very alone because she is. All she has ever wanted was to raise Jeremy to see the good in himself, but now he will face a lifetime of reminders of the worst thing he ever did. The entire family has been ripped apart by one foolish choice made by a boy that Carla could never manage to reach, no matter how hard she tried. Yet, an entire community that failed him has decided to blame her solely for the actions that took place.
Is there a Carla in your town? What would you say to her now, having seen things from her perspective? How might we all work a little harder to improve the system that is currently in place to protect the Jeremys and Carlas of the world? Would you help?