Top Questions We’re Asking because of Fight Club Coverage

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In the wake of Miami Herald’s disturbing Fight Club expose, which sent shock waves throughout Florida, The Children’s Campaign has analyzed the news series and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) responses in depth (see links at end of this story).

The cases brought to light are egregious, but other harmful interactions occur between residential care staff (guards) and children. For example, taunting, which occurs until the victim acts out and gets punished, sometimes severely, for battery on a law enforcement officer. The guard’s instigation goes unnoticed and, therefore, unreported.

Expectations for solving these long-standing abuses range from “get it done soon” to “it should have happened yesterday.” While urgency is needed, The Children’s Campaign believes we also shouldn’t settle for easy answers. Fixing problems in Florida’s juvenile justice system is more complex than increasing guard pay by 10% or establishing an Office of Youth and Family Advocacy in DJJ (which we applaud).

Examining the bigger picture, shouldn’t the goal of these reform conversations be to discover how we could better rehabilitate youth, rather than how we can better confine them?

An unfortunate side effect of not asking enough questions, or the best questions, is poor policy-making based on opinion presented as research. One such example is a recent report on civil citation that The Children’s Campaign reviewed while this larger discussion of juvenile justice was taking place.

Here’s some of the top questions we’ve been asked, ones we have asked ourselves, and our thinking so far:

As always, we welcome your feedback on this article. We’ve received many calls, emails and texts over the past few weeks regarding this issue, and we’re grateful for your support and advocacy.

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This Top Story is brought to you by Roy Miller, Karen Bonsignori and Tiffany McGlinchey

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Top Questions We’re Asking because of Fight Club Coverage