No Salvation for Male Teens

December 2, 2014

So apparently a homeless family of five sought shelter from the cold weather with the Salvation Army. Four of them were welcome, namely both parents, their 16-year-old daughter, and their 5-year-old son. The fifth, their 15-year-old son, was not welcome.

According to the guy’s father:

“They said he’s too old to stay on the women’s side, because of the women running around in their pajamas and they said he’s too young to stay on the men’s side in case some pervert wants to do whatever,” Lejeune said.

So he’s too dangerous to be with the women, while the men are too dangerous to him for him to be with them. Oh, God, it’s like wolf-sheep-watermelon riddle!

But seriously… what?! The Reason article calls it pedophile panic, but it’s quite a bit more than that. It’s yet another manifestation of the idea that teens equal trouble, both for themselves and for others. They are a danger to everyone, and everything is a danger to them. The curious ageist paradox that always seems to yield fewer rights for teens, who are never allowed a word in edgewise.

And it’s more ephebiphobic paranoia. “Help! It’s a teen! Is it a child? Is it an adult? Oh, Lord, I just don’t know. Let’s just shove it out of sight and not have to worry our heads with this freaky age-hybrid.”

The result? A young guy, whose only crime was existing and happening to be part of a family that fell on hard times, is forced to stay out in the cold, as is his family.

Oh, it goes on…

And after that, the Salvation Army did take the family in—minus the teen boy.

He’s not sleeping on the streets. He’s now in a mental health facility. He had a breakdown, his dad says, because he thought it was his fault the family was turned away from shelter.

No, young man, it is not your fault. The Salvation Army is just following orders. Check out this bit from the news article the Reason article is referencing:

Salvation Army Captain Michael Cox says the organization has a longtime policy that prohibits boys ages 12 to 16 from staying at the shelter. According to Cox, the policy is in place for safety reasons; ultimately to protect children.

Cox says space limitations at the shelter do not allow the building to house maturing boys.

You say “maturing boys” in the same way one might say “hungry rabid pit bulls”. Which, contrary to very popular belief, is not what pubescent boys are. They are… human beings, undergoing physical maturity. Which in and of itself is nothing terrible, as there are plenty of times of life we go through physical and other changes. The problem is that our culture has picked out this particular life change as an excuse to say “unfit for society”. As the Salvation Army is doing here, as countless other entities do all the time, in word and deed. They say this is a time when teen boys might be enraged with hormones or some other anti-youth slurs, without a thought that maybe, just maybe, a big if not sole contributor to any pubescent issues might be the fact that everyone else treats them like they need to be kept at a distance lest they Destroy the World. How the hell would YOU feel if most people treated you that way all the goddamn time? And unless you have yet to reach puberty, you have experienced it but probably forgot.

The guy is homeless, freezing, and now got denied shelter from a place that claims to be welcome and helpful to all just because he’s the wrong age and sex… of fucking course he had a mental breakdown!

This isn’t “protecting children”. What kind of bullshit is that? You can’t just do any old thing and say you’re protecting children and expect that to be a catch-all cover story. You just don’t know what to do with him. You can’t be bothered to protect the people in your care, so you just kick out the ones you can’t neatly categorize. Seriously, just why would you be allowing any harm to come to him if he’s with the rest of the men? On the off-chance one of the older men does try something bad with him, then kick THAT man out!

And I assume this is only an issue on the men’s side, that there’s no concern about the older women being with the female teens and children, because All Men Are Rapists, right?

Yes, it is the Salvation Army, who are notoriously anti-LGBT among other serious issues, so it’s not like one can expect them to have much sense on these things. But this whole “teens are so dangerous and in danger, eek!” is a far too common sentiment. Let’s call this what it is. Fear of teens. Ignorance of teens. Dehumanization of teens. Not young enough to be cherished. Not old enough to be respected. Just to be ignored and swept out of sight until they’re old enough for “mature” adults to feel they are suitable for human inclusion. You know, to protect the children. 🙄

But huge props to the police and others mentioned in both articles who came to the family’s aid and provided them another shelter! 🙂