What do you do when the system fails a young, poor girl? Who is to blame? What is the remedy for the cycle of poverty? Meet Jordan. She is 15 years old and in the seventh grade. From the start of her life, Jordan was doomed. When Jordan’s mom was pregnant with her, she smoke and drank almost every day. In an interview, Jordan’s mom admitted to a daily consumption of 14 beers and at least one pack of cigarettes. Jordan was the sixth child born to her 31-year-old mother.
Jordan came from meager beginnings. Both her mother and father have criminal records and her two older brothers are in prison for murder. Jordan grew up in a one bedroom apartment with eight other people in a rough neighborhood in Washington, DC. As the only girl, she really had to fend for herself. She started getting into trouble in kindergarten where she was suspended several times for fighting. She had a hard time paying attention at school and grasping simple concepts so she lashed out as a way of coping. Perhaps the substances her mother consumed while she was in the womb coupled with the social environment she was being reared in contributed to this behavior? When she came home from school, no one was there to read to her, go over her colors, or teach her to count.
Jordan survived off of potato chips, cereal, and orange soda. When she went to middle school, she was held back- twice. She fought any and every one because that’s all she was good at. When she was 13 years old, she took money out of her teacher’s purse because her mom never gave her money for bus fare. But she got caught and was arrested and so began her life of crime. Her older brother accompanied her to court and told her what to say to her public defender. And even though this was her first offense, she received three months’ probation. She had to comply with the conditions such as staying out of trouble, going to school, getting good grades, and meeting with her probation officer but she did none of that because she was accountable to no one and no one was accountable to her.
So, here we have Jordan. She was forced to grow up too soon. She hangs out with the guys in the neighborhood during school hours because they take care of her. Besides, she doesn’t have time for school because soon Jordan is going to be a mother.
L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213
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Note: names changed to protect identity of subjects.