“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
It is Wednesday, September 12, 2001—the day after terrorists crash planes into Washington, D.C., New York City, and Pennsylvania. My co-facilitator Debbie and I 1 are sitting in a large room in a community mental health center near Cleveland, Ohio. We are conducting our regularly scheduled meeting with the “Waging Peace” group, a treatment group for adolescents who use violent behavior. 2 We are joined, as we are every other week, by the parent(s) of the adolescents. Today—as is typical for this group—out of seven parents, there are no fathers present.
When I went out into the lobby to pick up the group members, there was an unusual quietness in the adolescents’ demeanor—much less of the typical teasing, joking, and good-natured put-downs that typify regular American adolescent interactions.
During our group “check-in,” many people comment on the tragedy of the previous day. My co-facilitator Debbie, who has more than 20 years’ experience working with adolescents who use violent behavior, began the discussion. Standing up, Debbie asked, “What did you experience regarding the terrorist attack?” She wrote