Jūratė Juškaitė. Shepherds of the Little Ones

Although I was avoiding it, taking a dog for a walk at night became unavoidable routine and gradually – a pleasant refreshment after a work day. Then I started to notice something moving in a playground. Teenagers came there to sit on swings or smoke illegal cigarettes. Ten years old and smaller children spent time there too.

It is pointless to ask them what are they doing there on such late hours. Taking into account how many drunk people there are passing by at eight in the morning, it becomes clear that children just don’t have where to go and what to do, while adults did not care that they are spending time outside. Probably even vice versa – they don’t disturb, don’t ask for attention, becoming silent figures at night, climbing on ladders, pretend to be tarzans or firefighters while they go down one and half metter long pipe. But they don’t do it in the same way as during the day, they do it silently, understanding that they are not supose to be here and taking responsibility for that.

When you make a connection with them, in the eyes of the child you become that one adult who should care about him. Then unexpectedly somebody knocks on your apartment door and asks to take your bike, that is your daily means of transport, for a ride. When you go home from the shop, you fee uncomfortable, think of what children where eating today.

Few years from now they will transform – their eyes with stop asking, instead they will look at you angrily, like any other adult, who did not manage to be their safe haven. In “gangs” they will crack sunflower seeds, play ear irritating music and occupy public space in other ways while with agressive body language send you on “three letters”.

Some of them will be sent to socialization centers, which de facto are the old juvenile detention centers with all “the best” inhereted punishment traditions and businesses, which turned up after Lithuania regained independence – inclusion into prostitution, human trafficking, sending youth to commit crimes abroad, drugs, etc.

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