Winning over young minds

SOS+ helps prevent young people from getting caught up negative lifestyles through dispelling myths and offering support, tools and strategies to stay crime-free. CJ and Junior delivered an SOS+ session on the realities of prison at an alternative provision academy school in London. This particular academy is for the most disadvantaged children who have been excluded from mainstream education for emotional issues and behavioural problems. The school represents a last stop for many of the kids. They were a challenging but important audience to engage with the session. Read about it here:

“We arrived for the fourth and last session on the ‘Realities of Prison’, and it was quite honestly mayhem: the young people were fighting, and shouting at each other in the hallway, and swearing profusely at the teachers present who were trying to corral the young people back to their classrooms. Myself and Junior were hurdled into the nearest meeting room, as they tried to get a control of the situation rapidly escalating in the hallway outside. This was the beginning of 45 minutes of similar episodes.

When we were finally brought to the classroom, the teachers set off to find those in year 10. The young people were hard to engage, and very disruptive, but we managed to hold their attention for the session and get them to participate. So much so that their teachers said that they never sit down for that long, that in normal classes they are able to leave whenever they want, and that they do get up and leave. Not one of the young people left our session. One particular young man with gentle coaxing came to the front and participated in all our activities, including acting out a role play to demonstrate the fact that every action and decision you take you’re 100% responsible for. The teachers noted that he’d never participated to this extent, and often falls asleep at the back of the class.

The session focuses on demystifying the myths of prison life and shattering the glamorisation of all that goes on inside. It centres on getting the young people to discuss the consequences and negativities of ending up in prison, whilst also reflecting on the victims of one’s crime and sentence (loved ones, the community, the victim and even oneself). The session ends by imparting real tools the young people can use to avoid and resolve conflicts, and arming them with coping strategies that will allow them to get out of serious situations they might currently by facing.”