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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary-style reality show follows teens as they enter the juvenile justice system. Frank discussion of their crimes -- including auto theft, running away, drunk driving, assault with a knife, and more -- occurs. Some dramatizations include beer bottles, marijuana, and other elements of the teens' crimes. All situations are sad, and certain moments are particularly painful to watch -- like when a teen's mother rejects her daughter, forcing her into foster care.
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What's the story?
The MTV-produced documentary series JUVIES follows teens as they enter juvenile detention, appear before the judge, and either get released ... or stay behind bars. Filmed at the Lake County Juvenile Justice Complex in Indiana, the show offers a fascinating, thought-provoking glimpse into the lives of young people dealing with family troubles, drugs, and emotional problems. Inside the detention center, life is scary at first, but most of the profiled teens eventually find it bearable. For example, Cordell, 17, arrested for stealing a car, initially rejects his fellow inmates' friendly overtures, thinking they're all delinquents. But he ultimately realizes that his prejudice is unfounded when he hears others' stories and gains compassion for their situations. The teens' stories are often accompanied by dramatic reenactments of their alleged activities, complete with soundtracks (which feel out of place compared with the stark reality of the rest of the show).
Is it any good?
The show's harsh details are bound to make a lasting impression. For example, during the intake process, Cordell must strip down in front of a staffer and rub Lysol on his hair to kill any potential bugs that might be living on his body. To someone like him -- a good student who's active in extracurriculars and hopes to be a lawyer someday -- the process is terribly humiliating.
While part of Juvies' appeal is its voyeuristic payoff, teen viewers will probably empathize with the inmates enough to think twice about doing anything that could make them wind up in the TV teens' place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the teens on the show. What are the underlying reasons that they ended up in juvenile hall? Do they deserve to be locked up? What offenses should result in a teen going to prison? Can family members ever imagine being in prison? What would be the worst part of being locked up? What is this show trying to accomplish?