Inside Out Writers: An Introduction

I was 15 and already convicted. Shepherded by probation officers up and down the halls at Central prior to any official sentencing, I was guilty before proven innocent — until the IOW program came along.

A Message to Queer Youth in the Wake of Orlando

For some, the ubiquity and high frequency of mass shootings in the United States is nothing less than shocking. But many teens feel less disgusted and awed and more downright apathetic toward these tragedies. And it is hardly our fault.

Legalized Torture: A Solitary Confinement Experience

"After just 24 hours, I testify that solitary confinement is hell on earth. Solitary confinement is legalized torture," says Anyssa Williams, a Georgia State University student who spent 24 hours in an 8 by 8 cell replica for a school assignment.

No Job, No Home, No Green Card: Crashing Into 21

“Do you know you’re an illegal immigrant?”

I was 19 when my social worker asked me this question. Shocked and confused, I said, “What do you mean?” Throughout my life, I had heard about undocumented immigrants from TV and from friends and family. I didn’t realize I was one of them.

Preventive Services Saved My Family

I was pregnant when I aged out of foster care. My boyfriend and I wanted to have the baby, but I worried I'd always be a target for Child Protective Services (CPS) because I grew up in foster care and was mentally ill. But CPS and the mental health system ended up providing a great support system.

Who Will I Be As an Adult?

In all those years I was bounced around, I didn’t know where I belonged or what would happen when I aged out of care. I never had a mature role model, so I’m not sure what sort of adult I want to be.

What Do We Owe Each Other?

A teenage girl on the road to high school graduation struggles to stay connected to her birth parents while coping with their inconsistent and often abusive behavior.

I Choose Foster Care

I have been in foster care before, but this is the first time I chose to be. Before, I was ashamed to be in care because other people might think I didn’t have a mother. Now I realize it wasn’t my fault my mom abused her kids. It’s not my fault I ended up in foster care. Signing myself back into care is the best thing I can do for myself, and I’m not ashamed anymore.

Learning What Family Is at Age 16

It’s no Disney show, but after more than 16 placements, Selena reflects on how stability and safety in a foster home help her overcome anger and aggression. “Now, two years later, it’s even better. Jenny, or Ma, as I call her now, is patient and caring. I have misbehaved and acted out, but she stands by me.”