GLEN MILLS, PA
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has issued an emergency removal of all boys remaining at the Glen Mills reform school. The Philadelphia Daily News (@philly.com), reported that a letter sent to the school’s board of managers said the conditions at the school
“constitute gross in competence, negligence, misconduct in operating a facility, including mistreatment and abuse of clients. likely to constitute immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the children in care.”
As I watched the news this morning, I shook my head as reporters from every network talked about this story with complete shock. I also watched in shock. Not the same shock news reporters had. Their shock is a naïve shock. A shock that comes from believing that the moment you hear about something is the moment that something began happening.
As a Philadelphia native growing up in Philly, Glen Mills was one of those places kids were sent to “serve their time” when convicted of a crime….hell, sometimes kids weren’t even sent there for committing a crime. Some were sent their just because they were bad in school or something. Kids from my neighborhood were sent to a bunch of different reform schools and juvenile prisons when I was growing up, BUT Glen Mills was always the one you heard horror stories about. Always. Listen, I’m going back to the 1980’s. The things the staff has been accused of doing to the kids today, sound exactly like the stories some of my homies and other kids in my neighborhood told when they came home from “The Mills” in the 1980’s. The staff was literally beating the shit out of the kids there. I was one of the lucky ones. I was never arrested (or even caught) committing crimes as a juvenile, but I never doubted that the stories my friends told were true. How hard is it to beat the hell out of a scared kid then threaten to do worse to them if they told someone? To take it a step further, what’s the chances that anyone would even believe this poor kid who staff believed no one cared about, even if they had told someone? Remember, some people were basically doing time there. You weren’t going home at night. You were basically doing a bid. You would rather have your time be easy than hard right? Snitching on the staff would’ve definitely made your time hard…er.
As I watched newscasters report on this story I was shocked. I was not shocked that this happened to kids. My shock came from the fact that someone finally investigated this school, these claims of abuse, and getting those kids out of that place. Oh yeah…. Glen Mills school has been around for a long time. A long, long time. The school opened in 1826. Just for kicks, I asked my father if he’d ever heard of Glen Mills School. (No I don’t think my father was alive in 1826 when the school opened, but I’m sure that his youth days were probably sometime in the 1950’s….or somewhere around there.) When I asked my dad about Glen Mills School you know what he told me? The exact same stories that I remember my homies from around the way telling me when I was a kid back in the 80’s.