A Simple Gesture
It has been statistically proven that over 76% of active prostitutes have a history of being sexually assaulted as minors, and that there are roughly over 300 active youth prostitutes across Canada.
They say daily 3,450 youths from the ages of 12-17 will smoke their very first cigarette. Over 25% of high school students admit to trying cannabis (marijuana), they also say that the average age a youth tries cannabis is between 13-15 years of age.
There is a very popular statement that goes "everything happens for a reason". I feel this same statement can be associated with youths and people. I believe "people act a way for a certain reason", and until we try to figure out why a person is acting a certain way we will not be able to truly assist them.
Depression is a world wide illness, it is something that you cannot always see on the outside, its known as an internal demon. When someone is suffering from depression there are numerous ways to potentially realize there is an issue. Most often it is a personality change, an alter in sleep pattern, or any shift in general behavior.
There is a reason to why people act a certain way. No one strives to grow up and become a prostitution, a frequent drug user, a smoker, or an alcoholic. I guarantee you that you will never have a youth say "when I grow up I want to be a prostitute". I guarantee it.
Throughout ones life something occurs that sends an individual down this rough path. We all have a story, we all have events that have helped mold us into who we are, to how we think, and to how we act. We all have experienced different situations, we all have been dealt different hands, this is why we all can learn from each other. I guarantee you if you put 5 people into one room, and told them to tell stories from their childhood you would hear different stories.
We all have stories to tell. What the problem is now is that so many people do not get the time to tell their stories until it is too late. There is a reason to why he/she is working on the streets, a reason to why he/she is selling narcotics, or a reason to why he/she is an alcoholic. For this reason we all deserve the chance to tell our story. We all deserve the right to not be judged until we voice our story.
I tell you this for the simple fact I met someone while I was doing security at a shopping centre in the NE. She was a student within a school that was attached to the shopping centre. I will not state her name until i receive permission to do so. I first met this female when I was called to issue a property ban for theft.
She stole from a dollar store within the mall, and was apprehended by in store loss prevention. I remember I walked into the room and I observed her sitting in a chair, with legitimate tears coming down her face. Generally I was pretty numb to emotion while I was working, however, seeing this youth obviously hurting made me realize she might need some help.
Therefore, I identified myself as security, I explained to her why I was there. Literally as soon as I told her I was issuing her a 1 year ban she broke down. It was then I realized this female youth really needed help. Therefore, I asked her to explain to me what happened, and why.
I was surprised with how fast she began confiding in me, telling me she was homeless due to being kicked out by her parents, she was pregnant by a male who used and left her, and that she frequently used recreational drugs. I felt so bad for this female. I realized she obviously was hurting enough, therefore, I elected not to lecture her, judge her, or give her the useless "you should've known better" talk.
Instead I still had to give her the property ban, however, I took this as a chance to get to know her better. While I was filling out the ban paperwork I obtained her name, after that she went on and told me why she stole. She told me she stole cause she felt no one would care whether she was ok or needed help, that she felt no matter what she would always be useless and dumb.
She also went on to tell me how broken her home was, where her father always beat her mother, and there was always frequent alcohol abuse. She said she observed her parents steal from each other while growing up. I asked her "if someone were ever able to help, how would you want to be helped?". I cannot recall her exact words, however, she replied "Anyone who wants to help me, I will accept, I do not care how".
When she replied with that statement I had this internal feeling that if I did not try to help her I would feel responsible for something happening to her. Therefore I informed her I want to help her anyway I can. Upon me saying this, she then informed me she went to school in the mall. I then informed her that due to her commitment to her studies she is welcome to attend her courses, however, she had to leave as soon as class was over.
I gave her the property ban. No one knows this until now, I also gave her a $20 bill and told her to go and buy food from Wal-Mart. Why did I give a youth who was just arrested for theft $20? Simple. She needed help.
After this I told her that she will be ok, and that no matter what she needs to stay focused. Then I left. I honestly thought that would be the last I seen her, however, I was wrong. A couple weeks later I saw her leaving her class, she saw me and ran over to me and gave me a hug and said "thank you". We got to talking and she said she learned her lesson about never stealing again, and that she also learned that even in the worst case scenario, something good comes out of it.
She told me that the $20 I gave her she spent on groceries. She again said thank you. I then elected to walk her off property to see how things were going for her. She informed me her parents still wanted nothing to do with her, and the father of her child was still nowhere to be seen. However, she said she is doing great in school and has vowed to never do drugs again.
I was very proud of her, and told her if she ever needed anything to never hesitate to ask. She then left property and headed to, well, I had no idea where she was staying. This concerned and worried me. I then yelled and asked for her to come back.
When she came back I asked her if she was living near by, she then said that she currently did not know where she was going to stay, however, had an idea of a place to go. She said she had a friend near by she could stay with. I did not know what to say. She told me she would be ok, and she started to walk away.
I felt so bad for her, she was only 16. I couldn't imagine being 16 and having nowhere to go, I began wondering how scared she was, how lost she must have felt. I started to realize that everyone has a reason for how they act. I realized she stole cause she had to, she had no idea what else to do, with her parents kicking her out and her being pregnant she was lost. She was not being guided or helped, until this happens she would be lost. I vowed I would help her.
I made it a daily routine to patrol around the school more often, I even would enter the classroom more often. There was never a day I did not see her in the classroom, she was also doing very well. I was very proud of her.
I left my position with this shopping centre as a security supervisor to pursue another job. I was gone for about 3 months, and during the 3 months I was gone I wondered how she was doing. When I came back she was no longer in the school, becuase she graduated and received her High School Diploma. I was so ecstatic for her, however, I felt I would not see her again.
While I was dealing with a group of youths for smoking by an entrance the youths were yelling and swearing at me, until I heard in the background "Hey Dave!". I t was her. She came running up to the group of youths, and told them I was a quote "cool guy, and to respect me". She was friends with them.
After the other youths walked off and apologized she began telling me she graduated high school, gave birth to her child, and her parents allowed her back into their home. She also told me she was starting a job, and that everything was going very well for her, she then hugged me and said thank you. She said I was the one person who did the smallest gesture, however, the gesture had the most impact. Instead of me judging and belittling her, I gave her time to speak, time to explain her actions, and why she was acting the way she was.
She said that little gesture gave her the hope that there was help. We talked for quite sometime, and during the conversation she wouldn't stop smiling. She was so happy. She went from being the 16 year old in a holding area being charged, and having no positive statements with tears running down her face. To no being a high school graduate and a proud mother who was starting a job.
Even though someone may look weak, may look broken, does not mean they are not strong enough to do the right things, all they need is a small gesture. That gesture is communication, allowing a person to confide and explain why they are acting a certain way. It is such a small gesture, however, the results are monumental and very benefitting.
To this day I still see her, and she is doing very very well. Everytime we see eachother she says the same thing to me "thank you", and everytime I still get the exact same amount of satisfaction. It reminds me that there is more satisfaction in helping someone, as opposed to judging or belittling them. It leads me to a saying "don't judge what you have never lived or experienced, although learn from those who have."
What that means is through all of our personal lives and experiences we can help prevent the same for others, we can educate others on ways to avoid such experiences. We can teach others through our mistakes, the next time you want to judge someone for their actions or lifestyles, before you do......ask why. You will be amazed, I was.
I am very happy I asked a person in trouble, why?
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.