Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Don't We See The Teenager in the Delinquent?

A diocesan priest in charge of a home for teenagers writes about the antagonism of neighbors toward this home for 'juvenile delinquents.'  A principal  of a nearby school  would like the home blocked from the view of the students; they would be a  bad influence on the student body, he said.  The real estate people also want us to leave. Everyone in the neighborhood, it seems, the priest said, is hostile to the teenagers; he wonders what effect this will have on them.
Before this assignment at the home, he expected to be dealing with rough and sometimes violent teenagers and wondered how he would deal with them.  But after meeting them, though not always liking what he saw, he found them to be like most teenagers who like to play around and want to be accepted and loved. 

When the home showed a film on ecology and the damming of a river, a teenager asked what happens to the fish that like to swim in the rapidly flowing water--the priest also had the same thought-- those fish have no place to go, the teenager said, and then, comparing himself and the others at the home to those fish, said, "We also have no place to go in this world."

This teenager wasn't  clear on what he was trying to express but the priest understood. The world is not very inviting to those who  do not go along with the standards that are set by the world. Like nature, many of these young men are vulnerable; nobody wants to listen to what they have to say. The young man was expressing his feelings and the pain he was experiencing in his troubled life.

The priest mentions the respect he has for St. John Bosco, who said that young people not only have to be loved but have to feel that love. All of us are the same, but in an order of priority the young people should be given preference. But no matter how much their troubled behaviors are calling out to others for help, few are listening, not even the Church. The Church, the priest reminds us, should not follow the ways of the world, in this matter of juvenile delinquency, but should, as in all matters that concern living a more just and holy life, be involved in changing the ways of the world.


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