Home | Teen Suicide | Abuse
Teen Prison, Abuse, Laws, Education
Just start writing. Put whatever down until something
useful comes out.
That is what I am telling myself right now.
It is about what I witnessed last night.
Her sister on the phone saying she wanted to leave.
Talking to the police, them saying she cant legally
leave until she is 21.
The average age of the American soldiers killed in the
Vietnam war was 19.
Yet Ceci cant leave until she is 21.
It is okay for a country to send you to another part of
the world and have you killed, but it is not okay to
leave a home where you are being hit and imprisoned.
Maybe that is all I will say this morning.
I dont know if I can write more or not. I am
physically tired and feel pretty powerless.
But am I?
Who among us is really powerless?
Can one person change the world?
Can one person get laws changed?
Can I make a difference in Argentina?
Can it really be true that an 18, 19 or 20 year old can
not simply walk out of a building called a home and not
be forced by the police to go back?
I know that in the USA a 17 year old like Ocean can not just walk out of the
building called her home and go stay with a friend with
whom she feels safe. But is it really true that even a 20
year old can not do this in Argentina?
Maybe I will go to Chile to see what the laws are there,
or I will start a survey of South American countries.
Or I will find out what the laws are in Spain, the
country that enslaved virtually all of South American a
while back, leaving behind the slave/owner mentality.
We all know a slave can not leave the place where the
owner lives. Are there still slaves in the world, we
might ask? Yes, Id say so.
When one person is told to do something that another
person wants them to do and does it only out of fear, and
they cant just walk away from the person giving
them the orders, then I would call them a slave.
This may be a new definition of a slave. But if you agree
with this definition then it means that there are now
millions more slaves in the world than we might like to
admit to ourselves. We might like to think that when one
person orders another to do something and that second
person does it, they do it because it is
do they do it? Why does anyone do something someone else
tells them to do?
Why would a 20 year old stay inside a building called her
home when someone called her parents tell her to, yet she
desperately wants to leave and be with the person she
Is it because the 20 year old respects the people called
Or is it because she is afraid of them?
Maybe she is not afraid of them hitting her. Maybe she is
afraid of other things. Such as them refusing to pay for
her education if she disobeys them.
Let stop for just a moment and think about this.
Do we want a society where someone can deny someone else
an education simply because the person wanting to be
educated was disobedient?
Do we want a society where a 20 year old can not move to
another city and study the profession of her choice
simply because she disobeyed her parents?
This is the situation in Cecilias case. Or almost.
She is 18, yet if she were 20 it would be the same. And
actually if she were 21 or 22 it would be the same. If
Cecilia does not have her own money, how will she be able
to move to Buenos Aires and study to become an air
traffic controller, as she wants to?
Right now her parents could pay for her trip to Buenos
Aires. They could pay for her room and food there. But
they can legally use the financial power they have to not
pay for any of this if she commits the unforgivable sin
In South America it is common for females to live under
their parents roof and rules until they are married.
Argentina is a bit more developed and quite a bit more
wealthy than other countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia and
Peru, but still females here often dont have
something we call financial freedom. And if you
dont have financial freedom, you probably
dont have freedom freedom.
Lets get back to why Cecilia doesnt walk out
the door when her parents tell her she is grounded. You
might think it sounds odd to talk about grounding an 18
year old. Yet that is exactly what is happening as I
Ceci was told she is grounded. She cant
even leave to use the Internet in a cyber café around
the corner from her parents house. Neither can she go see
her boyfriend, even to say goodbye to him and to explain
what her parents are doing to him.
In case you have forgotten Cecis age, she is 18.
And her parents will evidently have this same control
over her until she is 21, and possibly longer if she has
no source of financial independence by then.
Yet please dont think that this is shocking just
because Ceci is 18. What about a 17 year old in the USA?
And what about a 15 year old in Canada, England and
Australia where females are allowed to live where they
want at 16?
Why did anyone come up with a law in the first place
which says a person of any age cant leave a
situation they dont want to be in?
Why did the people who thought up and passed such laws
think they know more what a young person needs than that
young person does?
Do they also know when a young person is hungry and
thirsty or has to go to the bathroom?
Just the other day I heard from a teenager who told me
that her father got angry at her for refusing to go to
bed when he ordered her to. She is almost 16. At 16 the
laws in her country will give her the legal freedom to
leave her father's home and live in a place where she
decides when she wants to go to bed.
Yet it is highly unlikely this teen will exercise her
legal power and move out. First there is the financial
issue. Second, there is a psychological issue of not
wanting to hurt her parents. No matter that they have
hurt her over and over. She has been trained to believe
they do everything because they love her and it is for
her own good as Alice Miller writes about.
So back to why Ceci didnt just leave when I had the
taxi waiting downstairs and her 22 year old sister was
helping her pack her things.
She didnt leave because her 19 year old brother
came home. And he was told by the parents to make sure
Ceci didnt leave. So Ceci was afraid to leave.
I asked Patricia, the older sister, if she thought her
brother would physically stop them from leaving. She
said, He wouldnt stop me but he probably
would stop her.
He apparently approves of his parents hitting his 18 year
old sister in order to discipline her and
keep her from getting pregnant.
The keeping girls from getting pregnant is a bit ironic
here in South America, to say the least. Here in South
America I have never seen so many teenagers controlled by
their parents, all supposedly under the comforting
sounding name of protecting the little
children. Yet for some strange reason South America also
has what may be the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the
world, as well as the highest rate of teen fathers who
completely abandon the mother and child.
So something suggest to me that something is not working
very well. And it suggest we might call the South
American culture a bit dysfunctional.
So last night I learned that I cant just talk about
teen prison anymore. I
now have to include twenty year olds.
I still find it hard to believe a 20 year old in this
country can not decide where she sleeps. Yet is that
really anymore shocking than thinking of a 15 year old
who is legally prevented from the same decision? Why do
we accept such laws? Why do so many people underestimate
teenagers and their innate intelligence?
To me this relates to emotional intelligence because the
laws prevent a person from using their own feelings to
make healthy decisions.
It is very obviously not physically or psychologically
safe for Ceci to live under her parents' control. Yet the
laws keep her a prisoner there.
In South America one is able to see societys
problems a bit more clearly. Things are not as hidden and
glossed over here. In Peru for example, parents would
directly tell children If you dont obey me I
will hit you.
It is the norm, not the exception to be hit in Peru.
Here in Argentina not many people will be surprised when
I say that Cecis mother hit her the other night.
They might not even be surprised when I say that her
mother is a school director.
Yes, you read that right.
A school director.
Or so they say.
Can someone really be an educator, yet hit their own 18
year old daughter?
This reminds me of an arch I heard about. It was said
that no Jewish person could walk under that arch, or
something like that. The explanation was that if a Jewish
person did walk under it, he or she would no longer be
considered a Jew when they passed through to the other
So could we say that anyone who hits a young person can
no longer be considered an educator?
Could we strip this woman of her title as school
director because she has hit her 18 year old
What if she passively watched while her husband hit her
17 year old daughter, or her 13 or fourteen year old
I have told Patricia, the 22 year old sister, that it is
unlikely the parents will continue to hit Ceci if
Patricia and Ceci go to the womens shelter or the
police and file a report against the parents. I have said
that in my experience school directors are very worried
about their image, more so than they are worried about
their children at home or the students in their schools.
So it is my guess that the hitting would stop once it
became public. That is one reason I am writing this,
using their actual first names and all other actual
Perhaps Patricia and or Cecilia will ask me to take this
down, and I will if they ask me to. But for now it is
going up just as it is.
How sad that two people are so afraid of the truth. So
afraid of speaking out against two abusive people called
Yet that is the situation in so many families. If it
isnt the fear of being hit it is the fear of being
disapproved of, rejected, punished in a thousand ways.
So many young people live in fear. Inside the homes in
which society wants to think are safe places. But
lets stop lying about abuse. Every time a sensitive
teenager is even invalidated it is abuse. Yet invalidation is perfectly legal.
At the very least, lets teach young people what
invalidation is, and lets teach them to listen to
their own feelings a little more instead of their
parents. Lets put more value on a child and a
teens feelings and stop passing laws which suppose
that such feelings matter not.
If a young person falls in love with someone else,
dont his or her feelings matter in this legalistic
If a young person can not be with the person they love
because two other people known as parents can
stop them from leaving a building, talking on the phone,
chatting on the Internet etc. then how much value does
love really have in society?
And if love itself has little value, then how much value
do feelings in general have?
I will try to get the laws changed here in Argentina.
Please try to get the laws changed wherever you live.
And please try to bring the things I write about on this
website into the schools wherever you are reading this.
At the very least, lets educate people like
Patricia and her sister so they will know what is being
done to them. That way they might have a chance to lead
healthy lives once they are free of their parents
And they might do a better job of being parents
themselves one day in the future.
January 20, 2007
Teenagers and Abuse
School rules and punishment
Intelligence | Empathy
Emotional Abuse | Understanding
Literacy | Feeling Words
Respect | Parenting | Caring
Listening | Invalidation | Hugs
Search EQI.org | Support
Online Consulting, Counseling Coaching from