COMMENTARY 916.3: Changing Lives Through Love

by Michael Josephson on January 27, 2015

in Caring, Compassion, Commentaries

Imagine being put in charge of a residential camp for delinquent teenage girls confined because they are considered dangerous. Many have serious mental health issues, impulse control problems, and an awful lot of anger.

One of the last terms you’d apply to any of these girls is lovable.

So when Pauline Starks and her colleague Gerry Davis (both with more than 25 years of experience at the Los Angeles Probation Department) spoke to the Josephson Institute’s Board of Governors about the importance of giving these girls love, it was pretty impressive. They refused to write these girls off as if they were social rubbish to be thrown or locked away. Instead, they saw young, damaged girls who needed and deserved to be loved.

They came to talk about how the CHARACTER COUNTS! program helped them change the lives of juveniles confined to Camps Scott and Scudder in Lancaster, California, and there wasn’t a person in the room who was not inspired.

It’s been said that kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Pauline and Gerry told stories and cited statistics to prove the effectiveness of liberally applied caring and respect. You might expect that nearly three decades of working with criminals would harden them, yet they spoke of the girls with such tenderness, and described little successes with such pride, that it was evident that their natural compassion and empathy shielded them from cynicism.

What a joy it was to spend an evening with these mortal angels who have found meaning and purpose in changing lives through love.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Reminds me of Fr. Greg Boyle author of ‘Tatoos of the Heart” and his lifeworks at ‘Homeboy Industries’ with ex felons,gang members, parolees in Los Angeles Barrios.

Reply

R. Johnson March 4, 2011 at 5:46 am

I am familiar with other similar cases that have astounded professionals who considered certain children hopeless cases. It is not surprising when we realize, “God is love.”

Reply

Anne Marie Whittaker March 4, 2011 at 6:45 am

I’ve been a educational student tour guide for nearly thirty years and have come across many students with behavioral or attitude issues.
Most of the teachers and parents have given up on the students and have termed them, ‘bad kids’ or high maintenance. They don’t understand that these students may be suffering from physiological or deep, underlying psychological issues such as ADHD, RAD (Reactive Detachment Disorder)), or bi-polarism.
Such students are doomed to become criminals because they cannot function properly and have no sense of boundaries or social skills.
I was brought up that all people are worthwhile and need to be approached with respect and love. That is what I have been commissioned to do.
Whenever I am faced with someone who is disruptive, I work harder to be more loving, understanding,and considerate. Occasionally, I suggest to the teacher traveling with the group that this student displays symptoms of the aforementioned conditions and should be examined.
As a result, I have had the reputation of having the best behaved groups in DC! Incredibly, I conduct the same sort of students as everyone else, but I approach each group with love rather than an agenda of simply herding them from one place to another.
We need to catch these students before they break laws or harm themselves, others. or property. We need to teach them to value themselves as well as present boundaries, cause and effect, ethics, respect for others, and instill self discipline, rather than blind obedience.
But love and respect is the true key.
Anne Marie
For more information about RAD: Broken Spirits, Lost Souls by Jane Ryan as well as her novel (soon to be a motion picture) The Boarder.

Reply

Mohammad Yacoob March 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Michael, Thank you for this inspiring commentary about the talk by Pauline & Gary. They told the stories. Would you please, relate in brief, those stories and share them with us. Thank you.
Mohammad Yacoob

Reply

Marty January 30, 2014 at 8:30 am

Kudos to Los Angeles County’s Probation team for their dedication to our children. I had the privilege of witnessing their handiwork too. They are truly professionals of the heart and often unsung heroes that help many children and families get back on track. God bless you all! And Michael thank you for the fresh eyes!

Reply

Larry January 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm

I’m blessed to be a volunteer chaplain at a maximum security prison. Death Row is in this specific location where I serve. The majority of the time I spend there (4 days a week) is on Death Row. You couldn’t have hit the mark any better when you pointed out that ‘People don’t care how much you know; until they know how much you care.’ This is especially the case with inmates.

In a lot ways, like with terminal cancer victims, ‘understanding’ sometimes comes from looking death square in the eye. This is certainly the case with about 90% of the guys on Death Row. These guys know what they’ve done; and that they’ll pay soon enough for their mistakes. My situation, however, with these guys is different. To be honest, I’m not a victim (or family) of any of the crimes they’ve committed. They are also at a point where they’re as close to being ‘square with the house’ as you can get. By this I mean, that at any moment, the authorities can walk up to their individual cell and tell them that all of their appeals have been exhausted; and that their execution date has been set. Within four weeks, it’s finished and they’re executed. It’s just the way it is.

They understood when I told them that because of this… I will not and cannot judge them. My place in their lives is to be a non-judgmental friend who will walk with them through whatever happens. Our discussions have been some of the deepest and most intense conversations imaginable. There’s a sort-of ‘urgency’; and little time for any thing that doesn’t deal with what really matters. On the other hand, some of the best laughs I’ve ever had in my life have come in conversations with theses guys.

It’s always been a privilege to serve these people. Nothing is incapable of being redeemed. With that in mind, the sage maxim hold true… ‘Do as you would be done by’. I’m as big fan as they come, Michael.

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glojapt101 January 29, 2015 at 10:26 am

What Will Matter | COMMENTARY 916.3: Changing Lives Through Love UNSUBSCRIBE

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Louise.Rose February 4, 2015 at 9:18 am

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What
Will Matter
COMMENTARY 916.3: Changing Lives Through
Love Imagine being put in charge of a residential camp for delinquent
teenage girls confined because they are considered dserious mental health issues, impulse control problems, and an awful lot
of anger.
One of the last terms you’d apply to any of these girls is lovable.
So when Pauline Starks and her colleague Gerry Davis (both with more
than 25 years of experience at the Los Angeles Probation Department)
spoke to the Josephson Institute’s Board of Governors about the
importance of giving these girls love, it was pretty impressive. They
refused to write these girls off as if they were social rubbish to be
thrown or locked away. Instead, they saw young, damaged girls who needed
and deserved to be loved.
They came to talk about how the CHARACTER COUNTS! program helped them
change the lives of juveniles confined to Camps Scott and Scudder in
Lancaster, California, and there wasn’t a person in the room who was not
inspired.
It’s been said that kids don’t care what you know until they know that
you care. Pauline and Gerry told stories and cited statistics to prove
the effectiveness of liberally applied caring and respect. You might
expect that nearly three decades of working with criminals would harden
them, yet they spoke of the girls with such tenderness, and described
little successes with such pride, that it was evident that their natural
compassion and empathy shielded them from cynicism.
What a joy it was to spend an evening with these mortal angels who have
found meaning and purpose in changing lives through love.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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glojapt101 February 4, 2015 at 11:57 am

What Will Matter | New reply to “COMMENTARY 916.3: Changing Lives Through Love”UNSUBSCRIBE

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