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Heal Together

The system is broke, but it isn't one system, it is many systems interconnected that feed each other. When I worked in law enforcement, the broke system I learned was the criminal justice system. When I worked in foster care, I saw the brokenness of that system. When I worked in addiction, that system was broken as well. There are many bridges that connect each of these broken systems and fixing them all separately will do nothing to effect real and lasting change.

Follow me as I show you how:

At home, the child experiences some or all of the Advertise Childhood Experiences (ACE) listed in the photo above. The higher the score, the worse their home-life situation is. By the time they are 6 years old, they have learned their unhealthy coping skill they will rely upon all through their adulthood. They may take on the traits of the abuser (aggression, abuse, assault) or the abused (withdraw, avoid, placate). In both situations addiction begins at an early age.

This child then enters the public school system where they are lost in the masses and find they are one of many who also score high on the ACE test. They connect with "the wrong crowd" because they are always wrong. They get labeled by their teachers as "lazy, uncaring, acting out, or misbehaving." Administrators are discouraged by test scores and try to provide more of the same approaches to focus on raising their test scores. Everything is performance based, yet the kids never learned from their parents how to perform anything. They only learned how to survive, and school is an escape from the insanity of home. They are not there to learn; they are there to find safety. An education is the furthest thing from their minds. They are not thinking about the incomplete homework assignment. They are thinking about their mother's black eye or the punch in the gut they received just before they left for school.

If they are "lucky" enough to have Child Protective Services called and they are removed from the home, it doesn't get better for them, it gets worse. When I worked in the foster care system at two different locations, the laws governing their businesses. The focus became one that forced the children to be reunited with family as rapidly as possible. The priority became less focused on improving the situation and mental health of the child, and more about saving money. Consequently, most foster kids are forced back into the same home situation where they were removed from. They must find another way to escape their circumstances, so they run away to school, suicide, or end up on the streets addicted to drugs and trafficked for sex.

When I work with the addiction community, I see that homelessness has become an acceptable way of living for free. The homeless addict gets paid by insurance headhunters to bounce in-and-out of treatment centers for a few days or weeks. There is no recovery because recovery is not the goal; money is the goal. The treatment centers get paid, the headhunters get paid, and the addict gets an all-expense paid vacation. They then return to their tents, drugs, and their community on the streets. Now, they even get their drugs for free and can shoot up at a government run drug overdose prevention center. So, they get free housing on some of the best properties in the world, free food through the food stamp program, and they get more and more free attention from caring non-profits who bring home made meals, clothing, and personal care products right to their [tent] doors. They don't have a care in the world and have no responsibility for their lives. Where is the incentive to change when everything is given to you?

  • The schools will never have the time or money enough to change a child's circumstances in the home.

  • Foster care only houses the children, gives them little to no skills to live on their own, and the children feel they are incarcerated for a crime they didn't commit. No wonder so many end up in jail; it feels like, "home."

  • Addiction isn't cured through programs that provide free drugs, free housing, or free education.

  • The problem starts in the home.

Generation after generation of throwing money at programs that don't work is a waste of time, frustrates those they try to help, and only increases everyone's sense of hopelessness.

If you want to see real change happen, make people earn the free things they are receiving now. Instead of unemployment incentives, give them incentives to return to work. Instead of free housing in apartments for 30-days, give them incentives to leave the beaches, streets, and allies of our cities. Instead of opening the doors to theft and decreasing the punishments for criminals, raise the bar for what is acceptable behavior. Instead of giving incentives to go into treatment, give them incentives to stay 90-days and complete the program.

When we stop rewarding the bad behaviors and start rewarding the good ones, we will have a better outcome. When people are given hope instead of supporting their hopelessness, they will want to change. When people feel you are supporting their efforts and not just supplying for their physical needs, they will feel encouraged to make a difference in the lives of their children. When we start helping parents learn life skills they never received as a child, they can pass these skills on to their next generation. When the family is strengthened, a community grows stronger, and a nation heals together.

When give in ways to incentivize personal responsibility

instead of dependence upon others,

those who can, will.


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