The System



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Santa Cruz, CA

These are the reactions I received from service providers who joined girls at a free screening of the film in Santa Cruz. Lexi and Shangra attended and answered questions from the girls.

FROM SURVIVOR’S HEALING CENTER Thanks so very much for putting the film on! I have been talking about it ever since I saw it... I really enjoyed it, and I felt like I couldn't have spent my afternoon in any better way... The things that you are doing as a department are so fabulous, so I thank you! The tabling went very well, lots of people picking up information and asking questions :)

FROM COUNTY OFFICE OF ED TEACHER - HOMELESS SERVICES Thank you for your efforts and diligence in making this film screening happen. It was incredible! I am still thinking about it, and talking about it. I know it has touched so many lives in our community already.


FROM A FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER I just wanted to thank you for all your work with the Girls Task Force and the Girl Trouble screening. I thought the event was a smashing success. The youth, that attended with me, were all impressed by the film. And much important dialogue has been started because of issues raised in the film, for the girls and boys alike.

East Palo Alto, CA

I saw this film through my Sociology course and I absolutely loved it!! I hadn't heard about it, nonetheless seen it, but I am glad I got experience this.

There were many times in which I got teary because it hurts me to see how young women are not able to enjoy a safe life, something EVERYONE should have. It saddens me to see that there is only one place with which they could go seek help to, the Walden House. There should be A LOT more of these institutions that help young people overcome their hardships.

I wish it is aired a lot more, for a lot more people to see.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

This film was not only inspiring but it was very informative as well. This sheds a whole different light on female juvenile crime and the obstacles that are constantly faced. It shows the processes that these women go through and what it takes for them to break the vicious cycles that are created as a result.


I think that all these girls inrtrouble today just need some one to beleave in them and give them a fighting chance in life . Most of these girls in the system are from broken homes or from the foster system with no proper guidence andany sence of self worth . Thank you for this film it was very educational and real.

Anaheim, CA

To have less than 5% of funding going to long term recovery programs like Walden is unbelievable! These programs work because they are not quick fixes.

I must admit that I would have given up quickly on Sheila because my first impression was that she was a complete "lost cause" but I am so glad that the system gave her another chance! Thank you to everyone that stepped forward and made that chance possible.


Great job. I only regret I only caught the last half of this documentary. More programs should address the real struggle of girls like those that were featured. This should be shown to all girls facing the difficulties these young ladies faced. Please pass on to them that they all should be commeneded for their bravery. And to keep their heads up. Congrats to the lady, I think her name is Lateefa and to all that never gave up on them.

Thanks again for producing this.

Karen Greenwald
Metroit Detroit

Awesome documentary. Told the struggles these young women face(d) and the courage it takes to overcome their environmental odds. Great job!


Let's get more programs like Walden House. THe all-girl, accepting, positive, structured setting can reform women's view of themselves. And I believe women want to be strong and giving at base. These youngsters you featured show that.

I too had 3 babies by age 21. It was a long haul out of poverty and I was so fortunate to get a boost towards education at the time my children were in elementary school. I am so thankful. I'm 66 years old now, and your story makes me want to leave what I have to Walden House.

Thank you for a great art and a great service.


This is an exceptionally real, sometimes gritty, but hopeful film about a subject that does not get nearly the attention it should.

I too was moved by the girls' stories, and wish them all the best continued success in their lives.

The number of young women at risk in this state, and the country overall is surprising. The ridiculously low amount of funding for services for these young women is shocking.

May all of us (particularly those of us who have been young women at risk in our past) find a way to help - and stick with it.

Lynn Diener

This documentary was amazing and I feel fortunate to have seen it. Currently, I am in a mentoring program with women in a very similar situation to the women in this program and it just confirmed to me how important it is for those of us in our communities to reach out and be willing to walk with women like this on their journeys.

Ultimately, I feel programs like this are of utmost need and urgency and that they really do make remarkable differences in the lives of the women that participate in them. I have witnessed it and know it to be an effective tool for women who want to make a change in their lives when they otherwise can't see how to do it.

It's a pitiful shame that women have still not become important enough to invest our time and money in. I hope that this documentary and programs like the ones featured in it, begin to get the word out and that more people will see the tragedy in the wasted lives that are foolishly spent in our justice system, and that we will do something about it.


This film moved me on so many levels. I loved the way it was edited. I so much liked the way the manuscripts were just highlighted with a few words so the viewer could fill in the blanks. And the girls were so very moving. I was so caught up in their stories and the progress. It was a short film but totally immersed me in these young girls' lives.

I, too, was an unwed mother. I know how it feels to have no support and no where to turn. I think the success of these young women was amplified because someone was actually watching them, recording their lives, keeping up with them (the filmmakers) and their social worker had lived the life. She was very important to this story.(I also really hated the way that man-lawyer talked down to that girl. I nearly jumped thru the tube to get at him!!!)

Thanks for making this. I so look forward to seeing other films of yours.

Charlena White
Memphis, TN

I know recovery programs such as those featured on Girl Trouble is a big help for girls. If there was a program out there for me when I was coming up, I belive my life would be much different. Society does not look at young girls as they need that kind of help. When we go down the wrong path, it's an automatic reply that we are sassy, smart-mouth, hot in the pants, etc. However, we are only living the life we know; we make it however we feel we have to and if people stop, take a look, and realize that we are asking for help; maybe not verbally, but in our actions we want someone to help us then maybe we can be saved before we kill ourselves. We just want someone to care. I deeply want to open up an all girl facility because it is so deeply needed. I pray one day that I can offer the help to others that was not offered to me. It is very hard out here when you have to figure everything out yourself and you are still a minor. Though I am 26 now I still suffer from some of my past situations because I never had the chance and the help was never offered to me on how to handle life situations. However, though times were tough I can now look at my life and be grateful and thankful because I did make it, and I want other girls to know that they too can make it.

Mesa, AZ

I currently mentor 2 Native American, single moms. This film really hit home. Right now I wonder if I can get this two sweet gals and their kids in a healthier environment.

Is there a similar type of program in Phoenix, AZ area? How would I go about finding one if you know of none.

Fatimah Nash
Marietta, GA


I must say that I was overcome with emotion after just watching this film. I myself am a 24-year-old single mother of two that has survived poverty, neglect abuse: mentally, sexually, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. I have even come close to drug abuse, suicide and have had experience with the juvenile system. Although I do declare to be a victor of my past it is still a daily struggle to survive, work, and get a college education while trying to raise two kids all at one time. One of the things that is an inspiration and encouragement to me is to me is young women like the ones that I saw on this film. I was once were they were and I am on my way to something greater than what surrounds me. When I get there one of my life goals is to reach out behind that long traveled road and be the guide that shows other young women the way out. I agree with some of what Devyonne Davis of Richmond, VA had to say and I too will to one day open up a center for young women and teen moms. I was once part of a program for girls and it was one of the turning points in my life maybe even the turning point. I was emotional because helping female troubled youth is my passion and my calling in life. There were many people along my path that not only Blessed me but were there for me through out my struggle. The day will come when it will be my time to do the same for some other young women.

This Little Light of Mine......

Columbia, TN

I do think that recovery programs can help at-risk girls in the long run because like one of the girls said herself, "If I can be around 'clean'people (meaning drug free)I can get the hang of it. Many of them are sumersed in these lifestyles and probably want out of the traps but have no way out. Just like if I were in quicksand and would need something to grab onto to pull me out I think recovery programs give these young women something to hold onto and help them get out of the destructive lifestyles. The young lady that was featured as helping these young women was making a difference by leading them and showing them they could lead a different lifestyle. The way one starts in life is not how they have to end and what a better way to finish to go to school and be a help to society than living their lives out behind bars.

I think one cause of the gender bias is maybe male juveniles have more male counterparts who are looking to help them which means there are more services in place to help them. Maybe it is harder to reach young women because of some of the complex issues that surround them such as being pregnant or having children making it harder to have outreaches for them. I still don't feel these are valid reasons though not to help if there are almost 30% of young women who represent juvenile arrests. Maybe it is unawareness.

Yes, their stories did inspire me becuase in the end they seemed to be happy and they were hopeful of their futures where in the beginning they seemed to be lost in a system or caught in a trap.

Thank-you for your film!

Kel McNichol
Dallas, TX

This was amazing to watch these women "grow" through the cycles of what they encountered. I think these recovery programs would actually be a more beneficial step for reform, rather than jail in alot of circumstances. The programs support, educate, show how a focus on helping the individual can ultimately break a cycle.

I was proud to see these women take control of their lives and make a choice to accept help. Sometimes that is hard to do.

Glendale, WI

This program deeply affected me. After viewing this program, I would have to describe myself as a very lucky, spoiled girl from the suburbs. My biggest problems are what I'm going to wear tomorrow and my homework. This program has opened my eyes in two ways: my life is not as difficult as I once thought and there are many other lives within my community that could use my help. I was absolutely inspired by the stories of the girls in the program. Each one of them seemed trapped within a system. Lack of money, education, information were all holding them back. Drug use, violence, and bad family situations were all very real problems to them that impacted whether they lived or died. Their desire for a better life and the changed that they demonstrated in front of the camera was very powerful for me. I would like to thank the film makers and also Shangra, Stephanie, and Sheila for sharing their experience with me and with other viewers of public television.

Betsy Platia
Guilford, CT

I am a stay at home mom living in Guilford Ct, I volunteer with a program called Bright Beginnings at Yale New Haven Hospital which unfortunately was recently discontinued. This program, which had been in existence for 10 years, matched mentor volunteers with young pregnant women usually living in poverty. My experience as a mentor has enabled me to see into a world I have had no exposure too other than through the news and media. With the knowledge I have acquired through the Bright Beginnings program I can say that the program Girl Trouble is the closest to reality of anything I've ever seen in the Media. I do think the recovery program featured in Girl Trouble can help Girls at Risk in the long term. Obviously, with addiction there is a certain percentage which will relapse, but if Girls can be reached before they are "women" it has to increase their chances. As indicated in this documentary there are very few programs available to young women who are in these circumstances, something has got to be better than nothing. I can't address your second question as I am really not sure why.

Did the stories of Shangra, Stephanie and Sheila inspire me? Yes, most definetely, the relationship I have with the young mother I mentor has at times been extremely frustrating, but what has kept me involved was the fact that this young person is so vibrant and full of life and really does have tremendous potential, it was helpful to see that there are others out there who have seen it too.

Lisa Nelson
Pflugerville, Texas

I am very excited about this program!I have a 17 year old daughter, in the juvenile system, since age 12. And I just hope she turns her life around, of course I am willing to help her always. A week ago she was sentenced to nine months in TYC! I hope she will learn more about her anger, and boost her self esteem. I hope she can attend classes to help her be a productive person, and learn to survive out in the world. I am so proud of the girls in the spot light on the program tonight. I hope to see that they continue to suceed, I wish I could win the lottery I would help out these girls even more. Can you send literature so that I can send it to my daughter? Again I am so happy that the girls are doing so well It gives me some hope for my own daughter, I have a 18,12,10 year old girls and one 14 year old boy. My hands are full, I am a widow of violence, my husband was shot and killed by a 17 year old boy. I was a mother of 4, and a widow at age 23. I just hope a miracle for these youth. God Bless you all and the girls, I guess all of us. Thanks for the viewing of the program. I hope to see more good things.

nashville tn

I do believe that these programs do work but as a community we have to make these girls aware that someone does care and that help is available.

What I don't understand is why do we wait until they are in the juvinile system before we offer them a safe place to live and programs to educate? It seems to me that if we save our money from all the legal time and paperwork and get help sooner it would be more cost effective to educate and rehabilitate not repeatly go through the courts then hope these girls are accepted into a program. Feed them, educate them, and let them know they deserve a good life before the life of crime becomes their way of life !These girls may not realize it but they may save another young girls life.Keep bringing this to the public's attention and in our public schools because its more of a reality than we tend to admit. I would like to tell these girls and all the youth that have been placed in unfortunate situations that change their lives for the better- I am proud of you and even though you don't know me I cried at the thought that you were hurting and you deserve all the great things that come your way. Keep fighting for your happiness and the happiness of others that have been in your shoes. You are worth it !!!!

Devyonne Davis
Richmond, VA

I deeply feel that recovery programs are needed and can help at-risk girls in the long-term. This recovery program is greatly need in the Richmond area due to the high number of teen pregenancy and the very low number of resources or centers for females. I also feel that there is not enough attention given in this area for females due to the growing number of gangs, drugs, hanus crimes mostly committed by males. However, more and more females are being drawn into the gangs, drug screen and even being involved in the hanus crimes. The story did inspire me partly because I am currently a pre-teen Bible teacher constantly looking for ways reach out to the growing youth (something that was done for me)in order to make a difference and potentialy save or change lives. My hearts desire to to start a Community Center or a Center for Girls, any suggestions would be most helful.

A reformed teen mother:-)


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