streets and classrooms as insitutions

earlier this week, i had a conversation with a young man who is preparing to graduate from his current court-appointed placement. one glitch: he has to be signed up at another program before the current program will grant his release. thinking that such support would be beneficial, especially as he has declared his intentions to pursue his education (GED, and beyond), i asked him why the prospect of another program had upset him. he responded by saying that he had experienced some unfavorable run-ins with some of the program staff and that he had, effectively, "checked out" a few weeks ago. he was ready, he said, to just have time to be; "not another program!"

what he said next was what has stayed with me over the last several days. when asked what he meant by staff run-ins, this young man responded by saying that the same interaction would never take place in the streets, and that no one at the program would talk to him the way they did - referring to being asked to remove his hat, pay attention, etc. implicitly, he was referring to the ways that institutions cloak adults' interactions with children and youth. i know - i, too, have masked myself behind that cloak from time to time.

today, i read about an egregious example of that institutional cloak. in short, a four year old preschooler was accused of sexually harrassing his teacher. yes, a four year old.
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