Hi, my name is Weldon Shaw. I was raised with old-fashioned philosophies by my Mother, who was a single parent. Society today appears to be overloaded with too many distractions and I do not like the path our children are going down. I have worked with troubled youth for 25 years as a Gang Investigator and Debriefer in the California Department of Corrections.
The one thing that has really bothered me and I am tired of seeing is youthful people wasting their lives behind bars. This has led to writing of The Rise And Fall Of Our Youth. This is a common sense approach to help parents to see the obstacles that may impact your children while growing up.
A Debriefer in the California Department of Corrections is a person who interviews and writes biographies of high-profile gang members who desire to drop out of their respective gangs.
Over the years I have interviewed hundreds of gang members and I always tried to take my interviews much further than they needed to go. With each opportunity I had to interview a criminal, I always made sure I asked the question of what made them go down the criminal path in life.
As an adult, I have tried to step back and take an outside view of people who I come into contact with on a daily basis. While observing people conducting their daily routines, I find myself analyzing their behavior, trying to determine what makes them act in the manner they do.
My wife will tell you I have a nasty habit of analyzing those around me. The first few minutes I spend
with a person will determine whether I will like them or not. It is a sense I was born with, an inner sense that was nurtured during my upbringing. It is an inner feeling I trust very much. It tells me if I have a good, moral person in my presence or a troubled individual.
With that being said, I want you to understand one thing. No matter what a person’s upbringing is, the path a person takes in life is solely determined by them. Yes, a bad upbringing makes the road of life harder, but ultimately the individual themselves decides what direction they are heading in life.
Let me tell you a little about my upbringing as a child To assure you, I had plenty of opportunities to go down the wrong road of life, just as many other people did. I was born in 1962 in Los Angeles, California, during the peace, love, sex, drugs and rock and roll era. I was raised by a single mom, not unlike so many kids are today, and I had three older brothers.
As a kid growing up, I do not remember much about my real father, because he was never around. When he did come around, he was like a stranger to me. My mother was a very loving woman. She worked herself into the ground, trying to make sure her kids had the things they needed while growing up. It was not unusual for her to work 16-hour shifts at the local tasty freeze just to keep the house running.
As a toddler my brothers were much older than me. The oldest being around 20, was serving his country in Vietnam. My mother worried about him day and night, like so many mothers did during the war. Many soldiers were coming back home in body bags and she feared for my brother’s safety.
The next oldest brother was around 18 and was a very fun loving person, who had adapted pretty well without a father figure being in his life. The brother next to me was around 17 and did not fair as well. He had a lot of frustration built up in him because of the divorce situation. In the end he stayed under the influence of narcotics most of the time to escape the real world.
As everyone knows the ‘60s were all about drugs, sex and rock and roll. The drugs flowed freely during this time. It was a time of experimenting for the youth culture. My brothers at home were not much different than most kids during this time period. They experimented with narcotics and alcohol.
My mother had to work day and night, resulting in her being away from home and worrying about what we were up to. Her nerves were shot from having to work 16-hour days, but when she did get home, she made it a point to sit down with us to find out what we had been up to all day. She suffered from nerve-induced migraines for a very long time, but she always kept moving forward never giving up on her job as a parent.
While she was at work the parties were rampant at our house, with sometimes 50 teenagers there. Being it was the ‘60s there was every imaginable drug present, uppers, downers, speed, LSD, cocaine, reds and so forth. The alcohol of choice for teenagers back then was Valley High wine, Ripple, Mad Dog 20/20, Thunderbird and beer.
I observed fights taking place, tattooing and tons of profanity. The reason I am telling you all of this is I want to get it across to you as parents that each individual child chooses his or her own path to go down in life. It is your job to show them the right path, while giving them the best family life possible, and the most important thing, a lot of love. It is your child’s job to take the right path that is shown to them.
While growing up in this type of environment I could have easily become consumed by drug use, like those who surrounded me. Instead I chose the right road in life and joined the military, and later I took on a career in law enforcement.
There have been many successful people raised in a bad family structure or environment. Yes, your environment can consume you, but it can also make you stronger and fuel you to want much more out of life.
When this type of person becomes an adult, it assists them in wanting more for their children.
I am not saying it is easy. However, the sky is the limit for each young adult. They just have to decide if they are going to be consumed by self pity and their environment or if they are going to fight and do something better for themselves.
I cannot give up on our kids. I cannot keep from thinking, if we as adults can get some of the old laws back in place, laws like those that give us the ability to raise our children and discipline them when needed, we might be able to save so many kids from the terrible existence of living within prison walls.
ABOUT THE BOOK
During the last 25 years I have worked for the California Department of Corrections. Twelve of those years were spent as a Gang Investigator inside the prison walls and on the streets.
During my career as an investigator, I had the opportunity to interview hundreds of troubled young adults, which led to me writing over 3,000 documents. The documents outlined the individual’s behavior, details about their upbringing, and safety issues inside the prison and on the streets. In the end the troubles they were facing came down to learned negative behavioral traits and bad decision making.
I also had special training in the area of being what they called a debriefer. As a debriefer, I wrote biographies of key gang members and their life histories. These individuals were seeking help to get out of the gang lifestyle.
I enjoyed having conversations with inmates from various cultural backgrounds. Inmates seemed to be very comfortable around me, and I had the ability to get them to open up to me and drop their war-beaten shield for a few moments of conversation.
I took full advantage of every moment I spent talking to these young adults, hoping to make an impact on their lives as well as gain valuable information in regards to what made them go wrong
I ensured our conversations would lead to me getting into their heads for a few moments while their shield was down, leaving them with something to think about as they walked away.
This is not unlike raising your own children, make sure every conversation has a lesson to be learned, even if it is a small lesson. I walked those prison yards for 25 years and saw so many young adults whose lives were wasting away within those walls. Not unlike a family structure at home, there were times when I caught individuals doing wrong, and had to put a stop to what they were doing.
Most of them were starving for conversation and attention from what they saw as a role model type person. To them, a role model stood for the opposite of everything they did wrong in life. If you were the type of person who would talk to them about the world outside of prison, they would bend your ear all day long.
Once they gained confidence in me, they would eventually open up, talking to me about the bad things they experienced in life. If you gave them a little support and hope they could still turn their lives around. You could actually see their minds thinking about it, with a glimpse of hope in their eyes. In their environment, hope and a chance in life are not things they hear much about, and when they come around they usually fail to recognize them.
Now I just used the words confidence, hope and support. These are three basic things, you as a parent are supposed to be instilling into your own kids as you raise them. The confidence that
you will always love them and be there for them when they need you most. The hope that they can be anything they want to be in life, and reassurance that destiny is right at their fingertips. The confidence that you will be there to support their decisions and guide them in the right direction when needed.
I have worked in some of the toughest environments imaginable, especially at Corcoran State Prison Security Housing Unit. This has been deemed by the media as one of the toughest prisons in the nation.
The personalities of inmates I met along the way ranged from the kid next door demeanor, to a psychotic personality, who was constantly trying to figure out how to get their hands around your throat to kill you. I have observed every imaginable bad behavior trait that has been written about by doctors. I have personally observed almost every mental disorder society has to offer from the serial killer, rapist, and child molester to the self mutilator.
Over the years while taking a wide view of society and watching other people in action, I have come up with a few areas of interest that I feel have impacted our youth in a negative manner. These areas of interest have had a very strong negative impact on society as a whole. I will go as far as to say they have even affected the manner you raise your children, resulting in a negative environment, altering a child’s personality, mind and in some instances makes them mentally unstable.
I want to say this book is not a book about how best to raise your children, but rather a book
to open your mind up and get you thinking. It should be considered a tool to be referred to. I do not feel there is a book written that I would put my full trust in to raise a child by. Raising a child is a personal tailored experience, in which you will instill part of yourself into your child.
All the subjects covered in this book could easily have a book dedicated to them alone. So in the end, I guess you can call this an overview of some of the most controversial issues that will impact your children’s lives. I know as a person you will agree with some of the things I say and disagree with others, and that is OK. The biggest thing I want to accomplish is giving you something to think about and hopefully a foundation to start raising your child by.
It seems society has gradually fallen apart due to one bad decision after another made by politicians, local officials and lobby groups who have an agenda for personal gains. These bad decisions are politically motivated, religiously motivated, and financially motivated, and support is motivated by a particular theory or idea.
The bad decisions made over the years have left our country and states individually in massive debt, leaving our youth with the burden to pay it off later. The negative influence of media such as TV and video games over the years have led to the disintegration of our youth’s morals. It has also painted a bleak future for our kids and has given them a sense of being lost.
A lot of this book is based on my own personal thoughts and observations; my personal feeling about how society has let our youth down resulting in incarceration and a sense that they have
no future. It also talks about how corrupt our political system and legal system are, which has let all of us down so other individuals can receive personal gains.
Each of these areas of interest will become the headings for my chapters in this book. Like I said earlier, I am just an old-fashioned guy who is sharing his thoughts with you; the same thoughts a lot of you have had in the past. I want you to have the feeling we are just two people sitting at the kitchen table having a conversation about what is wrong with society.
As a parent I will say there is no such thing as a perfect family. No matter what your stature is in life, from being a doctor, politician, lawyer or just a common person, none of us are immune to the tragedies of life. We all have family issues and children that give us trouble. Some parenting issues are worse than those experienced by others.
The bottom line is, it all comes back to the home environment and the time you as a parent put into your children. You can live in the ghetto and produce great young adults, with a strong sense of right and wrong and ambition to do better for themselves.
You can be wealthy, giving your child everything money can buy, but fail to give them the one thing money cannot buy, and that is love and proper morals. The lack of a proper home environment can result in an uncontrollable young adult, whose parents are having to pay tons of money to keep them out of prison.
Read my thoughts I have taken the time to put down on paper. Understand that there is no
perfect solution to raising a child. A lot of life is trial and error, but there are a few basics you need to instill in your children as they grow, such as values, morals and ethics. You need to understand there are other things that will become obstacles while you are trying to raise your children, such as laws, environment and outside distractions.