P.O. BOX 4475 PARKER, COLORADO 80134 (303) 646-0702
"Restoring Incarcerated Teens for Nearly Three Decades"
My father was a soldier in the Marines in World War II.
He is my hero and the example for the way that I live my life.
I often pondered on the sacrifice that he made during those years.
I asked him one time what his most poignant memory was in
the war. His response was about a young boy that was running
through the streets in a village in France. His parents had been
blown up in the bombing the night before. He was running through
the haze trying to find a place to hide. My father grabbed him and
took him to the next town to a family.
History is repeating itself today in a different way. Many of our students have found gangs, drugs and other places to hide from the devastation of their families. The impact of not having a foundational family has caused deep issues. Fatherlessness is the greatest social nightmare of our generation. It is a principal cause of deteriorating child behavior. It is also the source creating our worst social problems, from incarcerated teens and teen pregnancy to malfunctioning families.
There was a fatherless young man that came to my office seeking guidance on some important issues. He grew up in a family of witches and since the age of eight, he began writing little books on Wicca. He grew up in broken home and he was introduced to drugs that led him into Satanism. After this occurred, he confessed to his Wiccan girlfriend that he was turning Satanist. She responded by saying, “I’m relieved, I was afraid you were becoming a Christian or something.” This is the war that we are facing with this generation.
U.S. leads the world in fatherlessness.
85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.
Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households were the father has been absent.
Fatherless teens are thirty-two times more likely to be a runaway.
Fatherless teens are nine times more likely to drop out of school.
Fatherless teens are thirty-three times more likely to be abused.
Fatherless teens are seventy-three times more likely to die from violence.
Fatherless teens are significantly more likely to Engage in early sex, and experience conduct and mood disorders.
The absence of the father in a home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana.
Fatherless boys are more likely to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles, gender identity and have a confused identity.
Since 2003, we began church services at Ridge View with two rows of students. Recently, we had over two hundred boys in the main service and seventy students came forward to renounce their gangs. There has been a five hundred per cent increase in student activity in spiritual services.
We now have almost every student in the Orientation program attending our first service. This is building an awesome spiritual foundation for the future.
We also have the majority of girls attending the Sunday afternoon service at the Marler Center. They are learning to see life differently and begin to rebuild their future.
We have worked extremely hard to make the services very exciting, life changing and applicable to the culture and experience of at-risk teens today. We are overjoyed at the response of the students.
We are even more excited in the depth of change in the hearts of our teens. We have had six students headed for the ministry in the last few months.
Every Tuesday evening begins with an average of over thirty volunteers having dinner with the students at Ridge View. We have six teams that go to each living quarter and have an intimate time of study and sharing. This is having a tremendous impact on the lives of students and we have had a 400% increase in attendance.
We have seven five - member teams from various churches and universities that bring a variety of music and studies every week. There are seven meetings in each building on campus. There are teams built from various churches and universities that work to make mentoring relationships that lasting and full of hope.
The volunteers take sincere effort to make the studies life changing and applicable to the problems the students are facing.
There is music and a study that is contemporary and relative to the issues that the boys are facing.
We are excited at the response and the growth that is taking place in each study.
Most of our students at Ridge View come from broken homes with no father and a devastating heritage. They are repeating the history of their fathers. Sadly, a third of our boys already have a child at Ridge View. Many of the girls at the Marler Center already have a child at home.
Last year, I had a young man enter my Fatherhood class that was having his fourth child at the age of seventeen. He was an enraged young man that wouldn’t speak to me. He came to my counseling room and opened his heart. He then began a healing process that brought him to face his issues and make a commitment to his children.
Having a hot iron put on his back for discipline and being sexually assaulted for years had left him enraged and on a quest to verify his manhood. He hurled himself into gang life and a path of destroying himself and others around him. He is now healing and putting into practice what it are to be a man and a dad. He is the first young man to graduate from high school in his family. He also intends on going to college and entering the ministry. They are learning to be the father that t hey have always wanted.
Gang life for young men usually begins with their heritage and ends in desperation. I had a student in my office last month desperate to change his life. Several months ago, his brother put a revolver to his head and told him “this is the only way you’re leaving the gang, homie.”
We had seventy young men come down to the front at church one Sunday and renounce their gangs. They are beginning to realize the faulty foundation that they have built their lives upon.
We have several key young that have displayed the courage of their convictions and paved the way for others to follow. We have just begun to break the lethal mirage that gang life is the only life that they can have.
The gang population has grown to over 600,000 and populates every larger city in the nation
It is estimated that 47% of gang members are Hispanic, 31% are black, 13% are white and 7% are oriental.
Gang participants are very much more involved with drugs than are other students.
Youths who participate in gangs have much lower educational expectations than do other students.
I had a young man come to my office a while back and tell me that God could never forgive him. This is a young man that was raised from the age of eleven to be an assassin for one of the most brutal gangs in the country by his father. His father is now doing life in a prison here in Colorado. He was taught that rage and evil were the only way to power. He was left devastated by guilt and fear that he can never be whole.
We began a path of transformation through counseling to reconstruct his life and hope. After several months he was able to change the horrible issues that he faced in his young life. He learned that being tough was very different than being hard.
He has not only experienced the forgiveness of God, he is now in college preparing for the ministry. It was such a blessing to counsel him and to help him understand the deep wounds did not have to continue in his life. I have no doubt that he will have a great impact on others that are trapped in that lifestyle.
It is difficult but so rewarding to be able to daily help teens realize that their pain can go away and bring healing to others. It is one of the most important things that we do. We are now seeing dozens of kids turning from their gangs and learning to face life.
Most of our students have come from shattered backgrounds with devastating consequences. Many are repeating the history of their heritage with no understanding of how to get well. These classes give them the opportunity to come out from hiding and embrace the issues that have paralyzed them. They are then able to acquire the emotional and mental tools to change the future. They are able to overcome the disaster of residual anger and the past.
The goal of Anger Management is to reduce the emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger induces You can't get rid of, or avoid the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.
We take great effort in teaching our students how to not only maintain their reactions but find the roots of what has brought their anger level to a volatile point. This is an issue that touches the life of every student on the campus.
Anger, expressed or denied, examined under a microscope, always reveals the same thing: a layer of fear covering up a layer of pain. There is no emergency exit out of anger. The only way out of anger is confronting the deeper issue and embracing it.