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The Kids No One Can Tame

Kids Behind Bars poster

Written by : published Saturday 30th July 2011

Watch Kids Behind Bars: Crying Cos I Can't Hit No One

Kids Behind Bars is a series following troubled youngsters who have been locked up in Vinney Green, a secure accommodation unit, following criminal activities or troubled lives.  With over 200 cameras in the unit and it taking on average five members of staff to restrain two girls the program asks the question, ‘are we locking them up because we fear them, or because we are taming them?’ 

This episode follows the lives of three of the girls on phase two in the secure unit. Mouthy Jess has a history of drugs and violence and wants to keep her status as top dog on phase two.  Ruby has been allowed to run wild all her childhood and refuses to follow any of the rules in Vinney Green. Steph is new to the secure institution and was admitted by social services after running away from foster placements and self-harming. 

The unit tries to prepare the kids for life on the outside and tries to give them opportunities that will stop them re-offending and coming back.  The girls have to attend school within the unit everyday, as education is something that all the kids in the unit lack. Jess’ Inclusion Officer, Lyn, sees the potential Jess has and puts her forward for her maths and english GCSEs. 

With something to look to the future for Jess now has something to tune her anger into, something she struggled with in the past. After getting into drugs Jess started being violent towards everyone and got suspended from school for a brutal attack on her maths teacher.  Controlling anger is something which most of the kids in the unit have a problem with, but this is not the only thing that the unit has to deal with. 

Steph was admitted to the unit not because of a criminal activity but because she finds it difficult to deal with her problems, and turns to running away and self-harming instead. Locked up in the unit Steph has no where to run to and with the staff stripping her room bare she has nothing to harm herself with, forcing her to deal with her problems head on. She feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere but after a few months at Vinney Green she settles in well, and even looks at the people in the secure unit like family.

When the unit receives a letter from social services saying that Steph no longer fits the criteria to stay at Vinney Green, they have to break the bad news to her. Shortly afterwards Steph’s disabled brother dies, leaving her at her most vulnerable. The Staff don’t want to send her to a new children’s home in this state but they have no choice and Steph leaves the institute kicking and screaming and all the staff fear that she will return back to Vinney Green.

Re-offenders are something that the secure unit sees a lot of. Ruby is a traveller who has run riot all her life, and has been getting into trouble from an early age.  Shop lifting, fighting and criminal damage are amongst her portfolio of crime. Her first few months at Vinney Green she refuses to follow any rules and basic day-to-day life with her is difficult.  She soon learns that not following the rules gets her nowhere and after a month of behaving applies for early release.

Ruby’s early release is granted with the condition that she does not get into any fights. While the other girls try to provoke Ruby into fighting so she won’t get out of the unit early, she resists and eventually gets out. While there was a slight change in Ruby you can see she still hasn’t matured enough or had anything to look to the future for her to stay out of trouble, and sure enough the end of the program see Ruby’s return to a secure accommodation unit.

The program shows an interesting insight into a secure accommodation unit, and how they deal with kids that have problems. Sometimes punishment is not enough, you have to look beyond what a child has done and see why they are doing it, and then focus their attention on what they are capable of.  By following the three girls it allows us to see what life behind bars, as an emotional teenager is really like.




About the author jenni666


Journalist studying at the University of Huddersfield.

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