Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
You know the rest…
All the Kings horses and all the Kings men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
In a comment on my most recent post, a friend said, “Somethings broken remain broken.” Sadly, she is right. Sometimes there are broken things and broken people and no answers.
In the news right now is a very broken story of a group of teenagers that beat up a another teenager, a girl, while three “security” people stood by and watched the girl on the ground being kicked in the head and did nothing. Oh, they called for help on the radio, but then they just stood there. That is beyond my comprehension, and utterly broken.
Some may say, “but if the security guards had tried to get involved they may have gotten beat up too.” So. Is that an excuse to stand by and watch someone suffer? The security company trying to explain said that it is in their contract to “observe and report.” Broken.
One night at work, my very petite female co-worker placed herself between two teenage boys because she thought they were going to fight. Nevermind that they were both bigger than she is. She was trying to protect one of them. You can guess who would have been the most pummeled if a fight had broken out. But did my friend worry about her own safety? No, she didn’t. She thought only about the boys that were in her care. If my petite co-worker could have the courage to stand up to boys who were bigger than she was, could those security guards not have stood up to those teenagers? Couldn’t they have at least shouted, threatened, cajoled? Broken.
Here is something else that is broken…happily ever after. We are all familiar with fairy tales and “happily ever after” endings. As you know, I work with foster kids. Happily ever after seems almost unreachable for them. As I mentioned a while ago (here), the future is grim for kids who age out of the foster care system. They graduate from high school and, therefore, college at a much lower rate than other kids. Many of them become homeless and one in four will be encarcerated within two years after they turn 18 and leave the system.
Coming out of prison is not a foundation for a “happily ever after” either, whatever reason one ended up there. As you might imagine, going into prison is a tremendous culture shock. It is a whole different world in there. Likewise coming out can be a big culture shock. When I worked in prison, I talked to an inmate who had been in for 20 yrs, and was due to be released soon. I said he must be excited, and he responded, “No, I’m scared.” You can’t blame him. First, there is the culture shock. He told me about a time years before when he had been allowed to go on a weekend furlough. He had never seen the scanners that we use in retail stores today, so when he went to the grocery store and the cashier “just moved the food without ringing it up”, he assumed from prison culture that she was trying to cheat him somehow and started to lose his temper and yell at her. Fortunately, his sister stepped in and said, “I’ll explain it to you outside…” That was just one of the problems he ran into during that weekend. He said at the end of the weekend, he was ready to go back to prison! No wonder the recividism rate is nearly 70%. When you stop to consider that at least some of those inmates were foster kids, you just have to wonder where is their “happily ever after”?
Other foster kids end up homeless. On my way to work, there is a homeless woman who stands on a corner. She is there every night, in any sort of weather. I used to wonder how people became homeless, but after meeting one of the teenage boys at my job who has schizophrenia, I understand. Even with meds, his thinking very disjointed and unrealistic. I worry that he will end up homeless.
Sometimes we see homeless people and think, “Doesn’t he (or she) have a family? Where are they?” The foster kids that end up homeless don’t, but some homeless people do have families. Families that desperately want to help them. I was discussing this with a friend who told me she has a relative who is homeless. She explained to me how her family has struggled to try and get their loved one off the street, to no avail.
Unfortunately, there is no happy ending to this blog post either. I don’t know what the answers are, for all my ponderings, I simply find more questions and more broken Humpty’s. One thing I do know…like those King’s Men we have to keep trying. If we quit, we will be broken too, like those security guards standing in a pool of cowardice. So we grab some glue and some egg shells and we keep trying.
Because maybe, just maybe we can help create happy endings for some.