Beyond Youth Custody


Petey was seven when he realized his Dad was a drug user. This realization was quite a relief to him because it explained his Dad’s moodswings and helped Petey to feel that he wasn’t to blame for his Dad’s erratic behaviour. By the age of eight, Petey’s Dad was encouraging him to use amphetamine with him, finding it funny to see his little son ‘buzzing’. Petey liked to have something to do that he could share with his Dad.

Petey’s teachers had no idea what was happening at home, but were struggling to control his behaviour in class. He was becoming increasingly belligerent and aggressive – partly due to the sleep deprivation resulting from amphetamine use, but also because of the levels of aggression he was experiencing at home. His teachers tried their best to educate him, but were completely at a loss as to how to work with him.

Petey’s Dad served several prison sentences whilst he was growing up and on some of these occasions Petey’s Mum would decide that she couldn’t cope with him. She called Social Services in and had him taken into care on a temporary basis. Petey never understood what it was that he did to ‘deserve this’ or what he needed to do to stop it happening again. He became increasingly aggressive and violent towards care staff and often ran away from the homes he was sent to. He slept rough and fended for himself.

By the time he was 17 Petey had been in custody several times for violent offences. He had previously been prescribed anti-psychotics by a doctor, but was now homeless and not under the care of a GP. He had a son who he never saw and was convinced that he must be ‘a bad person’ to have deserved the life he had lived.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes