What Happens When the Bargain of Civil Society is Breached?

“The child well-being framework firmly asserts the rights of all young people, regardless of their race and ethnicity, to be viewed as children who are experiencing a normal adolescent journey and to be treated with fairness and equity.”

James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice, Fairness and Equity, recently spoke with members of the Youth Transition Funders Group about why we must apply a child well-being framework to young men of color.

From the time our children are born, we aspire for them to grow up in a loving environment with opportunities for education and play that keep them happy and healthy. As a society, we have an obligation to provide nurturing and positive supports for children so that they are able to reach their maximum potential. The right to a childhood ought to exist for all young people regardless of their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, income, or ability.

Indeed, in many communities across this nation, children are expected to exhibit all of the characteristics of childhood—good and bad—as part of their normal adolescent development. However, in far too many communities of color, we have eliminated the space for children to exhibit age appropriate behavior by criminalizing their conduct through fear-based policies and practices.

It is time to reclaim childhood for youth of color.

It is time to challenge the pervasive perceptions that children of color, regardless of their age, are inherently more dangerous than White youth, thereby necessitating a firmer hand…

Download the full interview in PDF What Happens When the Bargain of Civil Society is Breached?