By Scotty T Reid – Neo-slavery simulations, do they help or harm troubled children? That is the question that people should be asking themselves. It is a question I am asking rhetorically because I know the answer is yes, they are harmed by the abuse they suffer at the hands of guards in detention facilities across the United States like the one in Dallas, Texas which is a story that escaped the attention of national media because perhaps Mr. Beto O’Rourke does not seem to have the same concern for US citizen’s children as he does for those children separated at the border from their families. For some reason, the family separations and abuse of children who are US citizens aren’t as big of a story that it warrants the attention of the national news networks who have devoted an untold number of hours towards reporting on immigrant children during the Trump administration.
Abuse in the form of physical assault, emotional trauma and sometimes, sexual assault is occurring to children in the United States regardless of their citizenship status and not enough people seem to care.
The once popular and profitable “Scared Straight”, an exploitive television show that featured inmates yelling abuses at children for the entertainment value of it lives on in various forms in various forms, in various states, in various counties and on various cable networks in the United States.
Reporters at the North Carolina based Charlotte Observer visited one such program that exists in South Carolina.
Project STORM, a Scared Straight jail program for at risk children & teens run by the Chester County sheriff in South Carolina, is abuse, some say. It has been on the A&E Network TV show Beyond Scared Straight.
There is so much to unpack here but I am glad the Observer’s report included a psychologist who spoke professionally about the harm that is being done to those children in Chester County, South Carolina.
Wouldn’t you like to also know how much these programs cost the taxpayer per child and would that same amount be better spent in a more constructive and less abusive manner? Should policy and resources be directed toward getting these children the mental health treatment they desperately need instead of causing trauma? What are some of the underlying issues in these children’s homes, schools, and communities causing them to act out in destructive or problematic ways? Do people with resources and insurance send their children to these neo-slave plantation simulations when they act out? Are the parents of the poor coerced into sending them there by the courts? How many of these children in these programs have been followed up on to see if they end up in prison or worse, dead from risky criminal behavior or suicide? Are we as a society asking the right questions?
This is not only child abuse we are looking at but for-profit child exploitation by cable networks like A&E. Legal dictionaries define child exploitation as “the act of using a minor child for profit, labor, sexual gratification, or some other personal or financial advantage“. The children in these television programs are the main characters in these entertainment reality tv shows. The only thing educational about them is that neo-slavery lives on in the United States long after the American Civil War and Jim Crow.
I would make the argument that the producers and network bosses over at A&E and any other network engaging in similar programming should be charged criminally along with the law enforcement and public officials who approve and participate in this exploitation. Just yesterday the issue of prisoner’s human rights was brought up by the United Nations with scant attention here in the United States.
Another issue that stands out to me as a Black man, is the skin color of the Sheriff and a majority of the child abusers giving these children a taste of what it will be like, and worse if they end up in prison slavery. The likely hood of these children ending up on a neo-slavery prison plantation increases depending on their skin color and/or social economic status.
When I’ve visited prisons in North Carolina, Black people were always well represented on the staff. Prisons and detention facilities depending on their location, certainly have no problems with diversity in their workforce. This is why I have tried my best with mixed results to influence the New Abolitionists Movement to stop looking at neo-slavery as a racial issue and instead, a human rights issue. We can discuss the disproportionate impact it has on the Black, Hispanic and American Indian communities but economic factors play into as well. Besides, who wants to end slavery just for one or two groups? Wouldn’t justice demand that we end neo-slavery for all since, in this era, non-white people are a part of the neo-slaver class and white people are among the victims?
Getting back to the children seen in the Charlotte Observers report, I want to call someone, I want to do something to help those children and all I could think of was to call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Tipline but since it is the Sherrif and county officials who are a party to the conspiracy to abuse and exploit these children and I know nothing will be done, my mind dwells on more militant methods such as was debated among the abolitionists of pre-1865 slavery in the United States.
Scotty T Reid is the founder of the non-profit media organization Black Talk Media Project which is in its 11th year. He is the host and producer of the BTR News podcast and New Abolitionists Radio which he has co-hosted for several years. He is a free-thinking Christian prison slavery abolitionist who can’t be put in a box politically, socially or otherwise and the creator of New Abolitionists Radio. He is the father of three and a US Army Veteran of the Gulf War. He has been producing news talk programming since 2007 and has interviewed hundreds of guests on various topics over the years. His favorite movie line is from Forrest Gump, “Are you stupid or something?”. Check out the podcast archives here and here.
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