Anthony was arrested during the Puerto Rican Pride Festival in early June, just a little before his seventeenth birthday. He and his two sisters had taken their father’s car without permission. Anthony’s older sister, Angela, had a license. But Anthony really liked to drive, and she let him that day, even though he didn’t have a license.
Angela had been waving a flag out the window, enjoying the day along with their fellow community members. When the officer pulled them over, the younger sister, Aracelis, got into a verbal altercation with the officer, claiming that he had stopped them because they were “young Latinos making too much noise.”
The police ended up charging both Anthony and Angela as minors with possession of a stolen vehicle and driving without a license. Since the car belonged to their father and he wasn’t pressing charges, the matter ended up with a social worker partnering with the Chicago Police Department. The social worker referred the family to CCR after their interview, citing a lack of communication and oversight between the children and parents.
During the mediation, the mediator asked about how things were at home before the arrest. The mother, Celia, expressed that what the social worker said was true, especially between herself and Anthony. Most of their communication was by texting or having other family members pass messages.
As a result of working two jobs, raising four teenage children, and caring for her mom who had Parkinson’s, Celia didn’t have much energy left over to fight battles or watch over her kids. She relied on Anthony to be a leader and make good decisions. She said that for the most part, he was a good kid, but that he often ended up getting influenced by other kids and making poor choices.
When asked how he felt about this, Anthony told the mediator that he felt isolated and unsupported. He hadn’t been going to school for the last few months because he had been hit by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting incident that one of his friends was involved in. He was still wearing a cast and he said that while he had been recovering, all his mom did was ask him to clean the house, get his younger siblings off to school, and run errands.
The mediator then checked in with Angela to get her perspective. She said that she was really frustrated that no one in their family seemed to talk much. She first blamed it on the fact that they were all busy and tired, but with some probing by the mediator, ended up talking about how no one ever expressed their affection for each other or asked to see how things were going.
Anthony and Celia agreed, and Celia said that’s just how she had been raised. She also disclosed that her relationship with their dad had suffered because of this pattern and that even though they were still married, things weren’t good between the two of them either.
Anthony expressed that he was hurt and concerned by this. When the mediator asked what each of their goals were for the future, Anthony talked about wanting to be a truck driver but that he was scared about how these kinds of incidents would affect his future. Celia echoed this fear right away, saying that she just wanted him to finish school and get this arrest expunged from his record.
At this point, the mediator gently asked each of them what they thought they could do to change any of this. Celia said that the past year had made her realize how much her family needs her to be present emotionally. She said that she would commit to asking each of her kids how they were doing at least once a week. Anthony said that he knew how much his mom needed support too, and promised that he would make better choices with who he chose to hang around.
They also agreed that Celia would take him to do his driving test so he could get his license, and Anthony would start looking for a part time job so he could earn money to pay for truck driving school.
In ending the session, the mediator asked if there was anything else they wanted to say. Anthony looked at his mom and said, “I love you. I’m proud of how much you do to keep our family together, even though you can’t always be a part of things day-to-day.”
Celia began to cry and said how proud she was of him too. And all the kids. All three of them hugged and said they loved each other. Then, through tears, they all started laughing about how this kind of thing had never happened before. They joked about how it felt a little awkward, but they liked it and hoped they could do it more in the future. Through mediation, Anthony, Angela and Celia were able, for the first time, to talk openly and plan for a future with improved communication and more fulfilling relationships.