When eight boys recently graduated from the Florida’s STAR program — the replacement for the controversial juvenile boot camp — no parents were present for two of them, says the Orlando Sentinel. Staffers say the lack of parental involvement is a chronic problem. Many parents don’t attend weekly family counseling sessions at STAR — short for Sheriff’s Training and Respect. Some won’t pick up their sons for weekend home visits. At graduation, when the cadets need to return home, some boys lack a safe place to go.
The nonprofit Phoenix Hope Foundation plans to start a home where young people who graduate from STAR can live. Some boys have been in gangs and would be threatened by gang members when they don’t want to be involved anymore. Other boys may be forced to sell drugs to help their parents pay rent, officials say.” A lot of these kids that are in our STAR program have never had parental involvement other than negative parental involvement. All they’ve learned is to steal, use dope, be irresponsible, not to take responsibility for their actions,” said Sheriff Grady Judd, whose agency operates STAR. “The odds against them are so overwhelming. If they don’t get the support at home, they turn to the streets. When the streets raise you, they raise you the tough way, the hard way and the criminal way.”