Prison School Tours

I’m in two minds about this, and am interested in your thoughts.

My lad (14 and in grade 7), “must” go on a school tour to Leeupoort Prison in the new term. The school has been having trouble with discipline for the last couple years, and have put some very odd measures in place attempting to curb the smut. The extent of the problem is rather big, plenty of bullying and the like going on - the problem also rearing its head due to the ages of some of the kids - at 15/16 you should not be in primary school anymore…

Since then, they have seperated the boys from the girls, staggered the break times by gender and age and also seperated the exit routes from school by gender and age. The only reason I kept my son there was because he only had around 18 months or so left before high school and that he didnt want to leave at that point.

My son’s of the more quiet type, he’ll state his case but would rather withdraw from conflict than incite it with undue arguments.

Now the school wants them (the boys only) to attend two days at the Leeupoort Prison where they’ll be exposd to “no punches held”, “in the face” reality of prison.

I disagree, on the one side, the majority 13/14 year olds are still just little kids. Their emotional maturity might not be up to “in the face” reality, they, after all, still lust after Hannah Montana and think Camp Rock is the ultimate movie EVER.

On the other hand, there are the handful problem children, whom this type of outing might benefit. But I dont know, I personally dont think kids that age really have enough life savvy to associate prison with bullying and/or typical boyish naughtiness, it might even appear glamorous to them.

I’m also not a parent that raised my kids with fear, and the newsletter just screams this to me - putting the fear of prison/god/hell/whatever it is into someone is objectionable to me, I dont believe in that type of control, logic and rationality has always worked for me as a form of discipline. I’ve never had to threaten either my sons with anything, I would simply point out to them what might go wrong or what DID go wrong and it worked wonders on their behaviour.

I think the idea might be viable for older kids - 17/18 year olds perhaps, which is generally also the age that things can go mightly wrong .

Opinions? Would you let your son of 14 go?

Faerie from what you have said on this forum about your sons before, I think they seem to be level-headed, clever boys who think critically and make their own decisions (and understand that they will be responsible for their decisions and the consequences associated therewith) I don’t think that a field trip to prison will be of particular educational value to your son (because I don’t think he needs to be ‘scared’ into behaving properly) On the other hand, I suppose a lot of kids that age might well benefit from such an experience. We are presented with a picture of serving a prison sentence as punishment for a crime from shows like ‘prison break’ and I think the general picture of prison that kids may have does appear glamorous. In reality, prisons are not happy spaces, and maybe kids should be shown the harsh reality (if only to teach them that there’s a difference between life and the movies, and expose them to a reality that your average law-abiding citizen knows nothing about) exposure, in my view, is always a good thing)
plus… field trips are fun :stuck_out_tongue:
Seriously though, I don’t think your son will be harmed by it, and I do think that those kids on their way to juvenile detention centres may benefit from it. So I don’t see the harm :-\

im not a parent, so i might not be the best person to ask, but i feel that a reality check for some kids are in order.
now obviously, a school cant exactly pick certain problem kids to go, coz the parents will have puppies, so the good kids have to go too.
i think that, by the time they reach 17/18, the impressionability is long gone, and they have allready got set ideas about what defines them, and if drugs/bullying/sex etc is what makes them cool, then a tour through the chookie isnt going to change that.
i think, that when they are just getting smart enough to make up their minds about stuff, but still impressionable enough to have the living bejesus scared out of them.
what im seeing and hearing, scares the living bejesus out of ME. how kids are acting, towards peers, parents, and authority figures. they need to have a taste of what ‘being cool’ entails. and the consequences of a dick.
but then, i think, everyone should go, girls and boys. and not just visit the prison. visit hospitals with people dying of Aids. visit rehabs where people are getting over meth and coke and heroin. see people emaciated by drug use. see people in wheelchairs from drunk driving. they need to be shown that the popular idea of being cool, isnt all that cool.
the school needs to get speakers in, that can attest to firsthand experience with drugs, booze, sexual promiscuity. they need to be shown what a junkie looks like. they need to hear from young people who ended up in jail because of shit.
cause kids think they are immortal. they think they are smarter than the system. that they will never get caught. just having them go for a walkabout in the chookie, isnt really going to impart the message the school is hoping to impart.

Hi Faerie, my son went on this field trip when he was still at school and it made a huge impression on him and I’m glad he saw first hand what happens to people if they break the law. He was also 14 at the time.

I don’t want to go into details, but we are indirectly related (by marriage)to someone who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It infuriated me that the boys in our family looked up to this gangster and thought he was “cool”. The trip to prison was an excellent wake up call for my son. He said he never ever wanted to end up in a jail, and it gave us an opportunity to talk to him about why this “relative” is not someone he should look up to.

I also like to think my son is also level headed and intelligent enough to know right from wrong, but like GCG says, kids think they’re immortal and when kids are young they only see the bling and the proceeds gained from the crimes, they don’t think about how these things were obtained.

I think you should let your son go, it will be an experience he won’t forget.


#Faerie: many years ago I was a Judge’s Registrar (Pta) and my judge and I were obliged to visit prisons on an ad hoc basis without warning and we did so to Cinderella (Benoni/Boksburg) Pietersburg etc. It was quite traumatic for me as a 20 year old but I don’t think that’s what the children will be exposed to; jails are however depressing places and to see youths locked up sometimes awaiting trial, and mostly quite tragic is a reality check as GCG says. As parent it’s obviously your call and it sounds as if he’s quite capable of coping: one reaction is that they take it seriously and learn; the other possibility is that they become dismissive and try to be cool; the third is that they could develop a misplaced feeling of guilt. I trust the teachers have prepared them properly ( a non threatening approach and psychologically mature…the teachers I mean?) Difficult to call.

There have been so many movies and TV dramas involving prisons, that I don’t think any 14 year old child will be much affected by a prison visit. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

The real thing is a bit different than in the movies, though. Its a really scary place in my experience. Still don’t think Faerie that you should worry about your kid - like I said, he will probably not be scared, because he does not sound like the type likely to end up in prison :wink:

Thanks for the input everybody, I’m feeling a tad better about it with the various feedback. He’ll be given the option to decide for himself (instead of his mother balking like a mule).

Sounds like the prison might be safer than the school.

in some schools, sounds like that could very well be the case.

You know, back when I was 12 years old we went on “veld school”, and I absolutely, positively, f****** hated it.

And yes I AM going to compare the two because that’s how it felt to me. Day 1, we were told to sit in perfect file on a piece of asphalt in the sun, and were then left there for a couple of hours, you know, just to take the spirit out of us. Meanwhile the teachers etc. went to have lunch. (oh and no food for lunch, and some vile crap they scraped out of hell for dinner). The rest of the 2 week experience I can’t recall without the taste of bile in my mouth, as there were many more incidents of utter shittyness that IMHO were completely uncalled for.

Now, this was supposed to be a great, character building experience. But I think somehow our afrikaans teachers completely missed the point. Other people (that I’ve met later in life), all recall their veldschool experiences with great fondness, so sometimes I think it must just’ve been me. Maybe I just have utter disrespect for authority or something.

So, yeah, if HE’s into it, I wouldn’t stop him from going. Aparently some kids can take the most appalling treatment and still enjoy it. If however he’s anything like me, and doesn’t want to go to begin with, I wouldn’t force him.

  • I am not a parent.

I work at schools so maybe I can do with a bit of forewarning. Can you name the school Faerie?

Yeah, I think you should let the kid decide for himself. If the school is as tough as it sounds he doesn’t need a reputation as a mommy’s boy.

The kids in the photo look rather bored so I don’t think you need to worry too much.

Not only do I think the lad should go and have a look at the prison, I also applaud the teacher who came up with the concept. Its so much better to expose our kids to reality under controlled conditions.

I am considering taking my four year old to one of the neighboring smallholdings so he can see where chicken comes from.


the school needs to get speakers in,
the last time my daughter's school had a speaker in, to talk HIV & sexuality, it included the information that homosexuality is wrong and needs prayer to put it right! My daughter (17) returned home fuming. The headmaster did apologize to me when I complained...

Alberview Primary School - Alberton

The last couple years saw it going from one of the best schools in the area to one of the most problematic. Some info (the school’s not very forthcoming) would really be interesting.

I’m relieved he’s only got a few weeks left there, the poor lad’s had a hell of a year there.

@ Boogie, I didnt allow either of my son’s at the veldschools - due to the experiences I had way back then. My s/o also have horror stories to tell about his veldschool. I’ve allowed them on the leadership camps (3 days/2 nights) but was extremely particular and visited the venues beforehand and ensured that the teachers etc KNOW who I am and that I’m watching, both those experiences turned out to be positive. My youngest will beginning next year attend a three day induction camp to the high school, but I’m not overly concerned about that one for two reasons - my eldest loved it and everything is on camera, and the parents are allowed to view it if they so wish, the kids also receive a dvd with their experiences - the camp takes place to replace the routine “ontgroening” and I prefer the manner that they deal with it. Its very controlled.

what was the final outcome Faerie? did your son go and what was his response?

I gave him the choice and he decided to go. He seemed utterly unimpressed with it, and upon prodding delivered his usual “'twas boring” - which I had to be satisfied with. The only thing he did complain about was that lunch was a hot dog and he doesnt eat meat.

A bit of an anticlimax really! :-\

I still think they’re too young for it, aside from my initial concerns, I now tend to think that it was probably a bit over their heads actually.

probably depends how it was presented to them to make it ‘not so boring’ like show them the torture chambers and solitude lock ups and let them sit there with no lights on! NO! i’m just joking…glad it was a damp squib though.

LOL, I told you! ;D