Tender Leaders Behind Bars- Smokescreens of the Self-Identity of Child Inmates in Borstal Institutions of Kenya
Nurture moulds and provides leadership qualities in human beings. This indicates how significant childhood is yet children constitute vulnerable populations especially those in conflict with the law. In Kenya, such children aged 15-17 years are placed in correctional facilities known as borstal institutions. There are three such facilities in Kenya namely, Shikusa and Shimo La Tewa for boys and Kamae Girls Borstal Institution for girls. In this paper, these children are referred to as child inmates. They make up the most vulnerable group of all inmates because they are in their developmental and formative years and have not yet grown into functioning adults. Their experiences provide them the opportunities to develop their potentials such as those of leadership. Although correctional facilities are not the best place for children to learn their mistakes and make changes in their behaviour, there are indices, smokescreens of leadership that can be teased from their everyday talk. The main objective of this theoretical paper is to identify and interrogate the different forms of expressing negative self-image by the child inmates that hide their leadership potential. The paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach with applied linguistics as the cornerstone. Four theories namely; Discursive Psychology, Foucault’s Constructionist Theory of Meaning and Representation, Discourse-Historical Approach as well as Becker’s Labelling Theory were used to conduct the desk review. Inmates discursively construct their self-identity through the negative expressions in their daily talk.