When kids go to juvenile detention-or “juvie” as it is more commonly known-it is nearly always universally bad for them. While the intention of sending them there is usually described as a method to “straighten them out” or get them onto the right path, what normally happens is the exact opposite.

So your kid, who may have just gone a little off the rails or mixed with the wrong company, suddenly finds himself or herself thrown in the deep end and surrounded by sharks. The only way to survive in this environment for the average new fish in the pool is to also become a shark.

If you look at the background of some of the most notorious criminals in American history-Charles Manson, William Heirens, Robert Bardo, Robert Alton Harris, Scott Erskine, and many more-you will find they spent time in juvenile detention, and perhaps if they hadn’t then their lives would have followed a different path.

If the juvenile justice system is truly about justice, what happened in the case of Martin Lee Anderson? His family certainly could never have imagined that he would be dead within one day of commencing his sentence. His crimes? Stealing his grandmother’s car and trespassing. He was 14 years old, and the medical examiner concluded that the cause of his death was suffocation due to the guards covering his mouth and forcing him to inhale ammonia fumes. This is not justice by any definition.

Juvenile deaths in custody are rare. The same can’t be said for rapes and beatings, however. These awful experiences are often the catalyst that fuels the rage for the crime sprees that emerge later in life.

Oceanside juvenile delinquency lawyers Fischer & Van Thiel suggest that any parents who have kids facing a stretch in juvie should be prepared to do whatever they legally can to prevent it. With a good lawyer on your side, your kids at least have a fighting chance of getting a reduced punishment.

Don’t be deceived into believing that a spell of juvenile detention will help straighten your child out, or that “a bit of discipline will do them good”. Juvenile detention is a horrible environment for any child to be placed into, and it’s hardly any wonder that so many go on to a life of more serious crimes.

An important 2003 lawsuit, Farrell v Cate, prompted a review of the juvenile justice system in California. Some of the allegations made would outrage even the most hardline justice advocate. Besides that, studies have revealed other disturbing statistics, including that at least 10% of children sent to juvenile detention are sexually assaulted, and brutal beatings are a regular occurrence. If anything, the figures are under-reported due to the shame and fear these incidences instill in the victims.

If you’d like to see more compelling evidence of just why you should fight so hard to keep your kids out of the juvenile justice system, you could download a 2015 report by Richard A Mendel prepared for the Casey Foundation, titled Maltreatment of Youth in US Juvenile Corrections Facilities.