Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TaLkIn TuEsDaY

Not in my neighborhood! I bring up a really sensitive issue today....for those of you that don't know my husband runs/owns a residential treatment facility for Juvenile Sex offenders ages 13-18. These are the offenders not the offended. My reason for talking about this today is because there has been alot going on (controversy) with a facility that they want to open up in PG and they have already purchased the house and property for it. It was on the news and everything last night because all of the neighbors and the community surrounding the home is freaking out, of course as anybody would! So I have to ask some questions as we all should, but first let me give you some background knowledge from some one that knows a tiny bit about it, second hand. First of all let me preface that when I first met Devin and found out what he did I couldn't believe it, I was like "how can you work with "people" like that"? I am human and to me ANY sexual predator just plain grose me out.Again I was ignorant to all facts about it, not that I was wrong for thinking or feeling the way I do but I had a little bit of a better understanding.Some of these boys statistically have either been sexually abused themselves, may come from broken homes, poverty stricken homes and so needless to say all of these circumstances don't always put them in the best predicaments. Not to justify it though because of this but some of us can't help the situations we are brought up in and unfortunately some of them don't know any better. There are more things that go into this but A. I probably shouldn't talk about it on the internet and B. it's plain just not any of my business and I am not a psychiatrist! So when Devin gets most of these boys in his home they are scared and just want to change and get help.It's not like they are the type of offenders that will run away and break into someone's house and rape and pillage. The group home for some of them is a better place and situation where some of them have come from and they would rather be there then home anyway! They are just as vulnerable as anyone else. The first week they come, they have to wear a jump suit (like they have in jail) they have to have very short or buzzed heads, they get absolutely no privileges at all at first, as should be, they are not allowed to speak unless spoken too. They are under 24 hr. supervision and care the whole time they are there at the group home. The program is atleast a 12 month program if not longer for some boys.They have to sign a log outside the bathroom door when they go in and out of the bathroom, there are bed checks every 15 minutes from the staff while they sleep at night, and there is an alarm on all the windows and doors. They all receive anywhere from one to three hours of therapy each day with a clinical therapist. They have a group session with each other and then their own. These boys attend an alternative school and they live in this house like any other house with chores and other responsibilities just like any other "normal" teenager would be doing at home.They have three meals a day and do homework and other appropriate activities during the week. During the time they are there, there is 6 phases/levels that they have to go through and pass. Depending at what phase or level they are on they get more and more privileges and also responsibilities. Although the whole time they are there, there are some things and activities that they can't do at all or some have to be earned, such as drinking soda or eating candy. Something as simple as that doesn't always happen either no matter what phase they are on, little things like that have to be earned. So needless to say nothing is taken for granted while they are there. They are there to receive treatment and help so that they will change, grow and have a better understanding of who they are!When I have been there before I honestly can say I don't feel uncomfortable (but thats just me) these boys at first won't even look you in the eye, they act like a puppy that has been beaten. I got to know some of them and when you are around them it is almost like you have forgotten why they are there. First impression of some of these boys was not what I expected the first time meeting them. I guess what the media portrays as sexual offenders you think evil looking, tattoos,piercings everywhere, cocky and condescending attitudes. These are just mostly average every day teenagers some I would even say nerdy looking (the Steve Urkel type)even. Not boys you would expect I guess to be in any kind of group home let alone for sexual offenses! So to sum the understanding part all up, after their 12 month course or longer depending on each situation. These boys graduate can go on to live somewhat normal (whatever normal is right??) lives with statistically 70% never offending again (if it can be tracked, that is kind of a rough estimate give or take a little). Yes its not 100% but they are working on it. So now back to the questions. Should we as communities allow these boys to receive treatments in our neighborhoods with vulnerable children around? People always ask Devin or say "I think it's great what your doing but can't you just take them and work with them out in some desert somewhere". Well if you think about it you have to have employees and other people willing to come to"work" to help these boys and its not realistic for it to be out in the middle of nowhere and these "boys" also have to go to some sort of school. What they are trying to do is help these boys get help and make an easy transition back in to the community and society. How can that happen if they are isolated? Also shouldn't they just be locked up because what they have done should obviously not be tolerated at all? If they are locked up they wouldn't receive the help and counseling they need and it would just be a band-aid for awhile is all! So don't you think if they were locked up and received no treatment they wouldn't get help and it may or for sure will happen again. How does that help us. We are always so concerned about what we hear that goes on around us but what about what we don't hear? It's not like these boys have to register as "Sex offenders" unless they are 18. So we could have at any given moment have some sort of sex offender living by us and many of us do and don't even know it, some registered some not. Wouldn't and don't you want to be more aware and cautious of that? I think most of us moms are anyway with anything because for our kids we would stop at nothing to protect them!! Now I can honestly say that I wouldn't want a sex offender home right next door to me but it's not like they put these homes just in any neighborhood they are commercially zoned areas. So as communities should we reject and be completely against the help they are receiving or should we just be more aware? Now by any means I am not trying to make you tolerate any of this or accept it in any way I am just trying to help us all understand it and ask questions because this is a difficult topic as it is and especially for me to talk or write about for that matter! I agree to the fact that it is the victim that I feel the worse for in this situation but the offenders need help too as well as the victims so this isn't some viscous cycle. I would rather be aware of where they are getting help and just more cautious of that. I would also have them get help so society can maybe possibly get better and are communities can be safer because it is our kids that have to grow up in them and I know we all want our kids to live in the "safe neighborhood". So sometimes I wonder what we can do better as society to reach out more and help. I think it is great what my husband and his associates are doing because if you think about this from the other end as if your child had become the offender wouldn't you want him/her to get the help they need to overcome such a horrible thing and get help from people that care and want to be there. There is already so much we have to worry about as parents lets not be ignorant or uneducated as to what is going on around us and hopefully we can all teach and raise our children the same. So just know that I am not in any way justifying what these boys have done and my heart goes out ALWAYS to the victims but I just am trying to understand all of this like anybody else. I would rather know that these boys are getting help now before it's too late and again where they are receiving this help, I am just trying to be more aware. I guess I have a better understanding and knowledge of it all because of what my husband does. I am thankful for people like him that our willing to do it so my kids can grow up in a safer place. As for these boys I just always hope that they are willing to make a change because it can be done if they will go on living what they have learned and been taught. Last but not least and us as a society to be more forgiving, understanding and aware. That as soon as we hear something we are not running out with our pitchforks and torches. I have heard Devin often say: I am here to help these boys not just in the fact for what they have done but help them find out who they are in a time in their life (teenage hood) when it is hard enough as it is for any teenager. To help them find themselves, gain a self esteem,some sort of self worth and a better understanding of the world around them. He says that he hopes to be a good enough role model and example to them so that they will/want to change and know that it can be done. Also so they know that not everyone in the world is against them that there are people out there that love and want to help them!

Sorry this one was so long and congrats to those that made it through but I think that it was something that couldn't have been short. Thanks again for listing to Talkin Tuesday and I promise they won't all be so serious in the future but hey I am just here to talk about what is on my mind so you see I can be serious sometimes......

14 comments:

C.U.T.R. "Clean Up the Registry" Ohio said...

I will be back to read more of your blog.
For now, I address Ohio in cleaning up its registry.
Please visit.
Thank you for allowing me to comment.

Shelly said...

I admire Devin for the job that he does. It would not be easy and I wish people could be more sensitive. We all have temptations and trials. These boys need help and how else and where else are they going to get it. If they don't get the help while they are young it may be too late. The boys are still young and impressionable.

Brand N' Kys said...

When I was in high school I had a psychology class and I interviewed Dev for a paper. I learned so much about his homes and this program. I feel for these boys! It was society who failed them in the first place by the neglect and abuse most of them received. So don’t you think society owes it to them to give them a chance? Right now these boys are not aggressive, they are able to learn and grow as you were saying. Why not be supportive of correcting a problem now that will become more of a problem in the future? People in this area drive me nuts sometimes. I want to say, pull your head out of the hole you put it in. I think people need to be just willing to give a little more understanding. If people were better educated on the situation I doubt they would put up so much of a fuss.

Jamie said...

First of all just like everyone else, I think that it says a lot about Devin for the profession he is in. I think he is very open minded and the perfect person to do what he does. I wish there were more people like him.
Second of all, I can see both sides to this. Yes, you don't want sex offenders living next door to you, but I would rather them living next door and getting help than running around abusing innocent victims. Take my neighbor for example. He's a registered sex offender and he's in his 60's. He was 39 when he last offended. So, I ask my self: Would I rather have teenage sex-offenders next door- or a man who offended in his adult years and probably never got the help he needed? I'd take the boys! Tell Devin good luck. Tough situation.
Good post. Interesting topic!

Sarah&Cam said...

AMY! This completely covers it all. I agree with you 100%. You worded it perfectly! I am so happy that Devin and Cam love to help these boys :)

Nichole said...

I am so frustrated for you! I just read the article on KSL and the comments and it made my blood boil! So many people are so ignorant. They are clueless as to the reality of these homes. Good luck to you guys. I hope it turns out well. I really they get it figured out!

@manda said...

I am sure you know why I am so passionate about this story! I would much rather know that these boys are getting help then letting them run around and offend again. It think it is sick that people look at these boys like vampires, like they are just going to sit around, wait til its dark and then find their next victim! I give props to your husband for being willing to deal with this day in and day out and how greatful I am for people like him that help these boys! Welcome to the bubble we call Utah County!

Amy Jensen said...

Amen to all of your comments I hope you all know though I am in no way shape or form supporting or justifying what these boys have done I just thought that maybe if I gave everyone a little bit of a better understanding of it all and then maybe people will have more of appreciation that there are people like Devin helping these boys so they can receive the proper care and treatment they need. Its just plain sad on every side of it and there unfortunately is no way around it. PS I thought I might add that I put 70% go on those that go on to not re offend and my husband let me know it is in fact 85%

Sierra said...

I totally agree. If people think they aren't already living next to several sex offenders, they are mistaken. At least those boys are supervised... Ty thinks that Devin put the Oingo Boingo song on your blog, but I told him that Devin doesn't write on your blog. So who added the song? Ty really likes it.

Amy Jensen said...

That's funny because I did....those that know me Know I love 80's music especially alternative 80's music. Oingo Boingo is included in that genre and I love that song and thought it appropriate to have it be the first song to play on my blog for Halloween!!

Sierra said...

There's a good deal this week that you might be interested in. Albertson's has Green Giant Steamers on sale for .99. THere is a coupon from sunday for $1.00 off, so they are free. If you go on ebay, you can buy 20 more of these coupons for $5. THat would make each bag .25 if you bought all 20. If albertson's is out when you go, you can ask for a raincheck, and you can get them at your leisure anytime for the next 30 days. This sale ends tuesday night, by the way, so you would want to order those coupons today.

Tiff said...

I agree it's crazy cause I live in p.g. and haven't heard anything about it!

Michelle Tolboe said...

Amy, what conviction you have! I admire you for speaking out on this tough subject. And I truly is sickened at the naivety of people! It sure is easy to criticize what you don't understand.

Ask the awesome PG people to look up the sex offenders in their area. Could they be a bigger threat to their children?

Trimbles said...

I just read the Deseret News article they did about it. What these people dont understand is that there is a bigger risk of someone loose and unknown on the outside offending against thier kids the one of the boys in the home. The home is secure and they are highly supervised. There's no way anything will happen to any neighbor. I wish Dev all the luck in the world and hope the home does get approved.