Spirituality – A New Component for Juvenile Detention Centers

First post of a two part series:

Several years ago an administrator working with the Juvenile Detention Centers in New York City shared her story with a group of volunteers of how prayer made a difference for the facilities.

She told them that for many years recidivism had escalated and there had been a drop in the average age of residents from 12 to 17 year olds to 7 to 15 year olds.  Many of these children were on medications; many were hardened by life in abusive or homeless circumstances.  Much money along with various programs had been poured into the facilities to reverse the trend.  But nothing had changed.  In desperation, she prayed a long time for solutions. 

Eventually it dawned on her that there was one component she hadn’t invested in for these children – spirituality.

Finally she said, “I just told God that if he wanted these children to have more faith, He was going to have to work it out…I just turned it over to Him.” 

Today with the vigorous help of a full-time chaplain who provides voluntary spiritual counseling, children can choose from over 50 faith-based groups that flood the evenings and weekends of the facilities with praise worship, hip-hop worship, poetry to God, traditional services and Bible workshops.  And some individual heart-rending transformations are being noted.

She concluded her remarks by saying, “…We certainly see that the need is huge, and yet we know that the Christ can lift these kids out of a downward spiral and show them their true worth.”

Next week:                                                                                          Across the U.S., Efforts to Replace Drug-Based Therapies

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