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MATT, 14
As told by his mother

Matt was diagnosed as ADHD during his kindergarten year and soon after that he was diagnosed as severely emotionally handicapped.  My parents are from Tennessee and have little education.  They didn't understand this, saying that Matt was spoiled and that I favored him over my other two kids, Christi and Bobby.  Matt's dad has been out of his life since Matt was 4 and has made it very clear that he doesn't want any of the kids in his life.
With my parents always saying this about Matt in front of the other kids, the other kids would beat him up daily, often to the point of bruises and cuts.  The more I tried to stop it, the worse it got.  I tried my hardest, but very immature to have kids when I did, I am sure I didn't handle things the right way.

As a result of Matt's home life, when he was a teenager, he would stay out until early in the mornings.  He had a very bad attitude so he didn't make friends very well.  He was always defensive and would say and do things just to fit in and to be accepted. I trusted the juvenile people at the court and at the detention center. They told me that the only way that I could get help for Matt was to report him for everything he did.
My daughter Christi was grown and had her own place. Matt liked a girl that lived downstairs from her, and she needed him to baby sit.  Christi would buy Matt cigarettes to baby sit.  Matt was 14.  Christi had tried to say that Matt had touched her daughter Jordyn before, and she had tried to call children's services but they didn't find any evidence of Matt touching her.  Well Christi had been in a fight with her then boyfriend and when she came home from work she said that Matt had touched Jordyn again.  She called me and when I asked her not to yell it in front of the man I was dating, she called the police.  She said that I just wanted to protect Tom and my angel Matt.  Another family member very close to Matt had touched Matt and has touched my nephew and Christi doesn't mind this.
Matt was taken to the police station and I was told that he was not going to be arrested--that they just wanted to talk to him.  I was told that I didn't need to be there.  Not knowing that this was a set up and how they do this to minors all the time here, I believed them.  I came home from work and Matt was not home. I called and was told that he admitted to everything and was arrested.  Matt didn't admit to anything, he was coerced into it.
To this day I fight hard for my son.  He is on lifetime probation and is never allowed to live at home again.  He has been in homeless shelters and may be in one again.  I am working hard to pay for an attorney and to pay for his hotel.  My older kids say that I do too much for Matt and aren't speaking to me because of it.  My daughter was wanting to talk to Matt and wanted to help him because a lot of what is in Matt's police report is not true.  But now after a fight with me she isn't going to.  She said if she has to hurt Matt to hurt me then so be it.   If you ask me that is why she did this in the first place.  I am currently trying to get Matt home.  He is very depressed and angry, worse now than he ever was, and he needs job training and counseling for him and not the so-called "sex offender treatment."
This has torn my family apart.  My two younger kids and I want Matt home.  I am having to pay his bills and they punish him for that too.  He is isolated from the world.  If he has even male friends he has to tell them what he has done.  It is hard here and Arizona could care less about their kids.  Pray for my family.

Phoenix, Arizona
Submitted September 4, 2005