"She told me today that she’s pregnant." by richard ross

I live near the city college I live with my mom, two sisters, a newborn, and my stepdad. I have an older brother, but he’s out of the house. My stepdad’s a chef. And my mom works at a bakery. I was taken away by social workers. My mom told them that I hit her, but I really just ran away with my girlfriend. I wasn’t going to school. I was living in the street at friends’ houses with my girlfriend. I guess I was couch surfing. Yeah, I guess I was homeless. My mom came to see me today, with my girlfriend. She’s still with me. She told me today that she’s pregnant. I’m in 11th grade. I can barely take care of myself. I got a grand theft charge. The judge sent me to placement rehab. Mostly alcohol and weed and meth. My girlfriend would keep me on the right path. When I was on the outs, I wouldn't eat or sleep because of all the drugs. In here, I’m always sleeping to catch up on lost sleep and I’m always hungry. ‘Cause now that I’m not on drugs I’m hungry.

They have me for grand theft and possession of meth. I hope they give me probation. I think I’m going to go to a placement home. I was interviewed on Friday, and I’m just waiting for them to pick me up. I have to do nine months. If I go AWOL, I’ll be in bigger trouble. I’ve been here for two weeks for the same charge. The grand theft was I snatched a phone from an open car. They caught me sitting in the car and they tried to catch me for GTA. They tried to put those charges on me.

—K.O. age 17



"Kids were talking trash about my dad. . ." by richard ross

I’m in sixth grade but I’ve been held back. I was born in Fresno. I moved back here when I was 9. There’s a lot of gangbanging in Fresno. My auntie and cousins lived here and my mom decided to move here with my brother, sister and grandmother. My dad is deceased. He died of cancer when I was 5. I’m here because of a lot of suspensions and fighting. Kids were talking trash about my dad and telling me I’m a fat dumb ass. I’ve been here before for trespassing and VP (violation of probation). The original charge was GTA (grand theft auto). I thought my mom wasn’t coming to visit and I got mad and broke the sink off. My mom works as a teacher. This is my first time here. I thought I was going to get out tomorrow but I caught another charge with breaking the sink. My house is just me, Mom, two brothers, 18 and 15, and my sister. - N.I., Age 13



 I thought my mom wasn’t coming to visit

and I got mad and broke the sink off.

**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.