Stunning Choreography Tells The Story Of A Heartbreak Too Many American Families Experience

"At the end of the day, a kid is still a kid, and they don’t need to be jailed. They need to be educated. They need to be loved."

America is the most imprisoned country in the world, and while there are many different factors that have contributed to that unfortunate distinction, the incarceration of children is likely the most troubling. According to a new video from SoulPancake — a media company that aims to open hearts and minds through smart and hopeful content — there are more than 47,000 children incarcerated in the United States on any given night. However, as the video movingly shows, many children who end up in the prison system are there because they have been conditioned to spend time behind bars. 

The video, which you can see below, was produced in partnership with Emmy-nominated So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Christopher Scott, and created in conjunction with the SoulPancake series GATEWAYS — a docu-series about changing the way we view incarcerated youth and spotlighting the circumstances that put these kids in the position to be incarcerated.



"Raised for Incarceration," as the video is called, depicts a day in the life of a young boy (played by 11-year-old JT Church) who's being raised and groomed for time behind bars. Viewers see how the boy idolizes those who are imprisoned, and though that notion may sound ridiculous, the video makes the compelling case that children who grow up in neighborhoods with high rates of violence and incarceration and/or with relatives in prison frequently end up eventually being incarcerated themselves because of their environments.

Though a 2014 Rutgers University study found that there's a misconception that children of incarcerated parents are more likely to be incarcerated than their peers, "Raised for Incarceration" serves an an important reminder us that behavior is learned, and that it's our job as a society to teach kids (especially those who may be at risk for incarceration) something different.

"A lot of kids just need somebody to believe in them, and I think that was the problem with myself. I didn't have anything to believe in," said a formerly incarcerated youth at the conclusion of the video. "At the end of the day, a kid is still a kid, and they don't need to be jailed. They need to be educated. They need to be loved. They need to be given opportunities, and they need to be given second chances."

While it's disheartening to know thousands of children are incarcerated in America on a given day, there are organizations fighting to give at-risk youth the education, love, and correct guidance discussed above. For example, the The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation aims to underscore the fundamental importance of education by showing students how certain choices have the power to negatively impact their lives forever. By using a school bus that has been re-designed to look like a prison, children see firsthand how getting an education is much more beneficial than making decisions that could result in trouble with the law.

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