For children behind bars the holidays can be an extremely hard time, but the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center says just because they’re locked up doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate.
“Our youngest child that we have here is 13,” vice president of programs for Youth Opportunity Dallas Scott said. “We have some kids with assault, some battery, all the way up to murder in the first degree.”
Although the ages and charges vary inside the detention center the end goal is the same.
“We’re not in the business of punishing kids but we definitely want to provide treatment on a daily basis,” Scott said.
Scott says they have access to schooling, counseling and mental health services.
“I think the kids outside of here they lack structure and consistency, that’s what’s needed,” Scott said.
That includes continuing to celebrate the holidays.
This year each of the 31 children in the detention center will get a Christmas gift basket with snacks, games and writing materials.
“We encourage our youth to journal, kind of write out their thoughts,” Scott said. “You’ll see some stationary in the gift baskets as well, so the kids can journal and write home to their family during the holidays.”
They will also be served a special Christmas breakfast and dinner.
“We feel as an organization that our kids have been through a lot of challenges and the holidays are not any different,” Scott said.
Positive reinforcement that will hopefully help put them on a better path once released.
“We want the environment to be more conducive to treatment and so we treat them as youth,” Scott said.
The family members of the juveniles will also have a special visitation on Christmas day so they can spend the holidays together.