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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
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KEEP EYE ON THE GIRLS , TOO

As we worry about boys in the Virgin Islands and brainstorm ways to shore them up with mentoring programs and sport activities, etc., let's not forget girls' needs.
As we read the newspaper articles about boys involved in violent crimes, let us not forget that our first juvenile murder, committed by a 15-year-old boy, occurred around 1978, and was considered an aberration. Back then those of us in the field of juvenile justice were shocked and never forecast that we would encounter the time when boys are annually charged with murder or attempted murder, many of them actually cold blooded acts of violence, unlike that first one.
We must pause in our everyday routine of life and take serious note that our first female juvenile has been now charged as an adult with the murder of her stepfather, allegedly over the use of a telephone. We should also note that, according to the same newspaper article, she is also a teen parent. If convicted, who will serve as the mother of this child; does she or he have an acknowledged father? Will he take an active part in her life? Will the grandmother assume custody? How old is the grandmother; is she also young and working and not ready to assume another child to raise and care for?
What type of rage filled this young mother that she could allegedly kill over the use of the telephone? We know that telephone use is a sore point for parents and teens, particularly girls. What made this outcome so different from the expected parent/child conflicts of the tumultuous teen years? Perhaps we will hear the answers to these questions at the trial, perhaps not. Perhaps it will always remain a question in our minds, where did this parent, or stepparent/child relationship go wrong?
Girls are changing in the Virgin Islands. Case in point is that while girls accounted for 10% or 23 of the 236 admissions last fiscal year at the Youth Rehabilitation Center (YRC) on St. Croix, there were no females placed there until 1992 when two were sent there. By FY-97, judges were using the facility more heavily for girls and the number of admissions increased to a high of 34. Originally the great majority of girls sent to YRC were for behavior issues like being out of control, truancy, curfew violations, unsavory "company", particularly boys/men. Over the years we have witnessed a growing trend that more and more girls are being sent to YRC for criminal cases. Now we have our first female juvenile for murder. Are there more to come? What can we do to prevent it?
Research tells us that strong risk factors that may result in violent crime include: poor school achievement, antisocial attitudes, association with antisocial peers (remember our mothers telling us that stuff about the company you keep?) and, among others, poor parent/child relationships. We know where we need to place our emphasis. Will we do it?
Some relevant national research about girls and women involved in violent crime that comes to mind includes:
1. One-fourth of the women arrested who were participants in a testing program run in 1995 by the National Institute of Justice tested positive for cocaine.
2. It is estimated that one-fourth of women now in prison were members of households where domestic violence was prevalent and/or were sexually abused before the age of 18. Growing up in an environment where violence is commonplace can lead to looking at violent means as the natural solution to problems.
3. Many girls and women do not see that they have choices. It is not wise for those of us who are strong to presume that everyone else feels or sees the choices that are available to them. Many people only see violence as the only way out.
4. The adult female prison population, on an average nationally, is growing twice as fast as that for males. Many more women are also involved in drug related crimes.
5. Having so many mothers in jail during their children's formative years is particularly harmful for our developing youngsters and our future.
6. Data shows that women of color, and the poor are disproportionately represented in prisons and jails. Furthermore, the majority were unemployed at their time of arrest and about a third are in prisons for killing a spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
Prevention, outreach and education are the keys to improving the lives of girls and women. A helpful resource is available for parents, counselors, etc. on the web site http://family.go.com/local. This Disney web site (yes, Disney), provides short, bright, well written innovative guidance to families on coping with the social and behavioral issues that crop up in families, including the teen years of girls and boys. Some articles of interest include: A Parent's Guide to First Love; Are Pagers Good for Kids?; Tips for Your Child: Seven Traits of a Successful Teen; Your Part and Their Part = The Relationship, etc., and there are lots more on families and parenting of children of all ages.
Of particular note at this web site, is an article on Strengthening Our Families by Jenny Andrun It highlights a book written by Mary Pipher called REVIVING OPHELIA: SAVING THE SELVES OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS, published by Grosset/Putnam in 1994. My daughter and I have been reading it; I also recommend that you and your daughter(s) read it and form your own little book club to discuss it. It is well worth the effort.
We need to pay heed to what is happening with our girls as we go about planning for bigger and better ways to "save" our young males. It is not as easy being a teen girl today as it was when many of us were growing up. Many of the daily choices or challenges they encounter were not even existent for those of us who are more than 40 or 50 years of age. The article that I mentioned, and several others on this web site, gives us a practical, and easy to read, approach on different ways to look at what our teens are saying and doing. Look them up, you will enjoy them
Editor's note: Catherine Lockhart-Mills of St. Thomas, a former Human Services Commissioner, holds a master's degree in social work. You can send comments to her on the articles she writes or topics you would like to see addressed by clicking here.

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As we worry about boys in the Virgin Islands and brainstorm ways to shore them up with mentoring programs and sport activities, etc., let's not forget girls' needs.
As we read the newspaper articles about boys involved in violent crimes, let us not forget that our first juvenile murder, committed by a 15-year-old boy, occurred around 1978, and was considered an aberration. Back then those of us in the field of juvenile justice were shocked and never forecast that we would encounter the time when boys are annually charged with murder or attempted murder, many of them actually cold blooded acts of violence, unlike that first one.
We must pause in our everyday routine of life and take serious note that our first female juvenile has been now charged as an adult with the murder of her stepfather, allegedly over the use of a telephone. We should also note that, according to the same newspaper article, she is also a teen parent. If convicted, who will serve as the mother of this child; does she or he have an acknowledged father? Will he take an active part in her life? Will the grandmother assume custody? How old is the grandmother; is she also young and working and not ready to assume another child to raise and care for?
What type of rage filled this young mother that she could allegedly kill over the use of the telephone? We know that telephone use is a sore point for parents and teens, particularly girls. What made this outcome so different from the expected parent/child conflicts of the tumultuous teen years? Perhaps we will hear the answers to these questions at the trial, perhaps not. Perhaps it will always remain a question in our minds, where did this parent, or stepparent/child relationship go wrong?
Girls are changing in the Virgin Islands. Case in point is that while girls accounted for 10% or 23 of the 236 admissions last fiscal year at the Youth Rehabilitation Center (YRC) on St. Croix, there were no females placed there until 1992 when two were sent there. By FY-97, judges were using the facility more heavily for girls and the number of admissions increased to a high of 34. Originally the great majority of girls sent to YRC were for behavior issues like being out of control, truancy, curfew violations, unsavory "company", particularly boys/men. Over the years we have witnessed a growing trend that more and more girls are being sent to YRC for criminal cases. Now we have our first female juvenile for murder. Are there more to come? What can we do to prevent it?
Research tells us that strong risk factors that may result in violent crime include: poor school achievement, antisocial attitudes, association with antisocial peers (remember our mothers telling us that stuff about the company you keep?) and, among others, poor parent/child relationships. We know where we need to place our emphasis. Will we do it?
Some relevant national research about girls and women involved in violent crime that comes to mind includes:
1. One-fourth of the women arrested who were participants in a testing program run in 1995 by the National Institute of Justice tested positive for cocaine.
2. It is estimated that one-fourth of women now in prison were members of households where domestic violence was prevalent and/or were sexually abused before the age of 18. Growing up in an environment where violence is commonplace can lead to looking at violent means as the natural solution to problems.
3. Many girls and women do not see that they have choices. It is not wise for those of us who are strong to presume that everyone else feels or sees the choices that are available to them. Many people only see violence as the only way out.
4. The adult female prison population, on an average nationally, is growing twice as fast as that for males. Many more women are also involved in drug related crimes.
5. Having so many mothers in jail during their children's formative years is particularly harmful for our developing youngsters and our future.
6. Data shows that women of color, and the poor are disproportionately represented in prisons and jails. Furthermore, the majority were unemployed at their time of arrest and about a third are in prisons for killing a spouse, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
Prevention, outreach and education are the keys to improving the lives of girls and women. A helpful resource is available for parents, counselors, etc. on the web site http://family.go.com/local. This Disney web site (yes, Disney), provides short, bright, well written innovative guidance to families on coping with the social and behavioral issues that crop up in families, including the teen years of girls and boys. Some articles of interest include: A Parent's Guide to First Love; Are Pagers Good for Kids?; Tips for Your Child: Seven Traits of a Successful Teen; Your Part and Their Part = The Relationship, etc., and there are lots more on families and parenting of children of all ages.
Of particular note at this web site, is an article on Strengthening Our Families by Jenny Andrun It highlights a book written by Mary Pipher called REVIVING OPHELIA: SAVING THE SELVES OF ADOLESCENT GIRLS, published by Grosset/Putnam in 1994. My daughter and I have been reading it; I also recommend that you and your daughter(s) read it and form your own little book club to discuss it. It is well worth the effort.
We need to pay heed to what is happening with our girls as we go about planning for bigger and better ways to "save" our young males. It is not as easy being a teen girl today as it was when many of us were growing up. Many of the daily choices or challenges they encounter were not even existent for those of us who are more than 40 or 50 years of age. The article that I mentioned, and several others on this web site, gives us a practical, and easy to read, approach on different ways to look at what our teens are saying and doing. Look them up, you will enjoy them
Editor's note: Catherine Lockhart-Mills of St. Thomas, a former Human Services Commissioner, holds a master's degree in social work. You can send comments to her on the articles she writes or topics you would like to see addressed by clicking here.