Supporting Detained Children
It’s little wonder that on ALSC’s listserv that the topic of supporting children caught up in a web of immigration policy came up. Frankly, it’s in the youth services librarian’s DNA. We do all we can every day for every child who walks through our library’s doors. And for those we encounter in our outreach efforts, we do that much more. It is not an unreasonable leap that librarians nationwide would want to get library materials and services to detained children.
Why Literacy Behind Bars is so Important
If children are being detained, whatever the circumstance, literacy is integral – key – to their chances for success.
Here’s your top-5 why’s and ALL of these are about kids right here:
- 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
- 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
- Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
- As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.
- Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
Need more? Here you go!
- 53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.
- 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
- Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.
- Reports show that the rate of low literacy in the United States directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year.
REFORMA’s Children in Crisis Project
Still wondering why or need to answer that nagging ‘why’ question to appease the naysayer?
Most prisons do not have sufficient numbers of books youngsters to read.
Reading helps children imagine themselves succeeding in the real world, which encourages them to increase their level of literacy.
Who Else is Making a Difference?
YOU! You are making a difference – I KNOW you are! Here’s one example of how you radical militant librarians are gettin’ it done!
Badass book clubs keeping children reading! Sign up for Banned Books Club.
What else are you doing? Here you go!
To the Future
We are living in an age of the refugee. How we react to those in need is a reflection of our humanity. While many are fleeing political oppression, war, and sheer economic desperation, most of the issues stem from environmental factors that have spun out of control – think, like, access to clean drinking water.
I am confident my fellow colleagues will rise to the occasion, reflect the best in all of us, and bring relief to many of those for whom hope is all they have left.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and V. Outreach and Advocacy.