I’m a computer tech at a public middle school and I don’t mind admitting that 12-14-year-olds scare me a little. Not the girls so much, but the boys, my god the boys. It’s as if the brain of the average middle school boy is immersed in a skull full of gelatinous goo, free-floating and unconnected from the rest of their nervous system. They’re squeaky voiced hormone farms with circus-freak growth spurts and no spatial awareness whatsoever. I have PTSD from years of cafeteria duty. When they stampede down the halls, my only rational response is the fetal position. Fortunately for Johnston Middle School, my chief concern is for the computers. Computers make sense, they’re logical, and when they aren’t, I can beat them.
My good friend and co-worker, Mark Dostert, doesn’t have these hang-ups. He’s seen it all, trained in Chicago’s notorious Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, better known as the Audy Home. I can’t imagine there’s much our kids could do to shock or surprise him. His book, Up In Here: Jailing Kids on Chicago’s Other Side, is available now and you can read an interview on Houstonia Magazine’s website with him here.
I’m about halfway through the book and it’s well-written, tragic, and refreshingly honest. You can check it out at any of these locations: