Learning from our mistakes

Mistakes Kids Make My fabulous Marketing & Corporate Relations intern, Kelly Zatlin’s internship may be over, but she still had one more blog post to share.

Mistakes Kids Make
By Kelly Zatlin

When I was a teenager, I was the definition of a “goody-too-shoes.” I never got in trouble, I never stayed out past curfew, and I always ate my vegetables (ok, that part is a lie…I slyly shoved them under my plate when my mom wasn’t looking). The point is, I never got into trouble beyond “do your homework!” or “make your bed!” I always wonder, though, if things could have turned out differently for me if I went to a different school or hung around a different group of kids. Maybe I wouldn’t have the same opportunities that I have today.

Though I maintained my mostly reputable behavior throughout my teenage years, I knew a few kids in high school and in college who did end up in the slammer, whether it was because they were truly “bad apples,” or because they were going through some tough times and transitions in life, or because they were teenagers making foolish mistakes because they feel “invincible.” Some of them now have trouble getting quality jobs, maintaining quality relationships with friends and family and living successful lives because of mistakes they made.

So what does this have to do with Easter Seals? Well, Easter Seals is all about early intervention for all kids, whether they have autism, developmental delays or need some intervention services. With these services, children are less likely to be held back a grade, less likely to need special education and more likely to graduate high school. It has been proven that these individuals are less involved in crime and delinquency as well. According to Easter Seals Facts and Figures, “Early care and education for vulnerable young children keeps kids in school and helps them find jobs; it keeps kids in communities out of jail.”

Easter Seals recently learned of a campaign that is trying to change the way kids are dealt with when they make mistakes. According to their website, MistakesKidsMake.org, many are thrown into jail for non-violent crimes, and they don’t necessarily get the intervention or the help that they need. Because of the mistakes they make when they are young, blind to their faults and narcissistic in nature, they end up with tarnished records that make it hard to live successful lives later on.

Mistakes Kids Make is trying to change the way teens are dealt with when they do things like shoplift, vandalize, consume alcohol underage, etc. Their website lists the stat that only 5 percent of kids who are arrested commit violent crimes, while the other 95 percent who don’t, get the same fate of a tarnished record.

While I personally believe kids should pay for the mistakes they make so that they can learn from them, different crimes should be dealt with in different ways. Kids who commit crimes deserve some sort of punishment, but they also deserve a chance to redeem themselves.

Mistakes Kids Make isn’t saying that kids shouldn’t be held responsible, but they want to go about it in a different way. They say on their website: “hold kids accountable? Yes. Teach kids responsibility? Absolutely. Help kids become their better selves? Let’s do it. But not at the cost of their chance for a good education, a good job, and a healthy, productive life as they grow.”

Mistakes Kids Make has the same goals as Easter Seals: to give all kids the chance to live greater lives filled with opportunities to reach their full potential. While Mistakes Kids Make deals with different issues than Easter Seals, they have the same end goal: to make life count for kids early on, so that they can live better lives in the future.


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