WASHINGTON — As the March For Our Lives is set to begin in D.C. Saturday, a new poll finds that gun violence, including in school, is the biggest fear young people face.
A USA Today poll of young people ages 13 to 24 found that gun violence came in ahead of terrorism, racism, climate change and paying for college.
“Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at the way school violence has defined this generation,” USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, who wrote about the poll for the paper, told WTOP Thursday, noting that even the oldest participants in the survey began school after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. “Throughout their school careers, this has been a reality that they’ve lived with.”
(Excerpt from Rick Massimo’s article in WTOP- read more)
CAITLYN Donohoe might not be able to lift her hands above her head but it hasn’t stopped her from being crowned a star leader in Biloela.
The 17-year-old, who was born with a rare muscle condition, arthrogryposis, has defied the odds and won regional youth leader of the year after Lions Club judges recognised her impressive portfolio of community engagement.
(Excerpt from Hannah Speghen’s article in The Observer- read more)
We sit in our homes, our charming little castles and look down onto the problems of our community. Most of the time, we choose to look away and ignore the victims on the ground. This is the colossal flaw in our world. We sit in our perfect little homes, with our perfect family, and our perfect life with our heads buried in the sand. We hope, and we pray that something will happen, but never take action. We shut our eyes and close our ears and hope that this situation will blow over. It’s a beautiful lie that everyone’s living.
The lie that things will magically get better, that world peace will just happen, and bullying will somehow stop.
(Excerpt from teen Lauren Kim’s post in Lamorinda Weekly– read more)
The latest approach to dealing with drug abuse in America is touted by Donald Trump as a need to get very tough on drug dealers to the point of executing them. Looking back over the years, the war on drugs has not been very effective. It seems the harder we try, the worse the problem gets. Maybe the problem is the approach we are taking. We are considering it from the supply point of view rather than that of demand.
Look at it this way. If no one wanted or needed illegal drugs, it would not matter how many drugs were available. An interesting thought, but not one many people have considered. What would it take for everyone to lose interest in drugs? We have concentrated on the physically addictive nature of drugs as being the main problem. But what about other addictions which do not involve chemical effects? Consider gambling, food, sex, pornography and video games. All of these have a gripping effect on people’s lives although the bond is psychological rather than chemical.
Johann Hari looked at studies with rats to explore chemical addiction. When the studies were redone with rats under various conditions, it became clear that they became and remained addicted in a state of social isolation. Yet in a stimulating environment most did not become addicted and most of those who became addicted in a deprived environment left their addiction behind when placed in a stimulating environment. He concluded that social deprivation had a great influence on their becoming and staying addicted.
Projects with addicts such as one in Portugal showed that decriminalization of drug abuse and helping the addicted to become socially connected cut the addiction rate in half compared to addicts who were treated like criminals. For more on Hari’s study, see his article in Alternet.
The Foundation for a Drug Free World lists six reasons young people give for taking drugs:
- To fit in
- To escape or relax
- To relieve boredom
- To seem grown up
- To rebel
- To experiment
Many of these likely apply to adults as well. To my mind they also reflect the lack of connection to others suggested by Hari. Blaming people for their drug abuse does not help them change. It only gives them another reason to feel alienated. We have seen the failure of our war on drugs. Intensifying it will not make anything any better in our culture. It’s time to pay attention to the struggles of those in the grip of drugs or at risk for becoming involved. We can help them feel connected as an alternative to being addicted.
On a larger scale, it is clear that our society has been fractured into camps leaving people on both sides feeling at war with each other. Fanning the flames of discord will only intensify our feeling of alienation from each other. It’s time that we learn to listen to each other, find the value in each person and help each other become the best we can be.
There is a common misconception that teenagers who experiment with drugs and alcohol are inherently “bad kids.”
Many parents assume that teenagers experiment because they are rebellious and want to lash out. That may be the reason a small percentage of teenagers try drugs and alcohol today, but the dangerous trend is not that simple or one-sided. In order to understand us, you have to put yourself in our shoes and imagine what we are really experiencing.
Do you remember what it was like to be a teen? Understanding is the first step to helping.
(Excerpt from article in DrugAbuse.com)
Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration,
and we all need to assemble around us
the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.
Lately I have been discouraged by the fractures I see in society and in our daily relationships. It feels like half of us are on each side of every issue. We tiptoe around people we don’t know well in order to avoid uncomfortable and heated conversations. At times through the course of our history we have been able to look to our government leaders as a source of leadership. Now we see the same divisions among our would-be leaders as we find in our communities.
I have been waiting for our leaders to rediscover common sense and the ability to bring us back together. The longer I wait the more frustrated and disillusioned I become. I have been tempted to see the world in which I grew up as gone. Another way of life may be on the horizon although it might not appear in my lifetime. Maybe I have nothing left to contribute.
Then it occurred to me that elected representatives and officials did not appear out of thin air. Everyone elected is in office because some of us voted for them. They are in charge only because we let them be. If we don’t like the direction our community, nation or world is going, it is up to us to change it. If we want our leaders to cooperate with each others for our benefit, it is up to us to learn how to get along with each other and insist with our votes that those we elect do the same.
How do we make this change? We need to start with our own perceptions and feelings. We need to be clear on what we want. We also need to understand what others want. The hard part is to balance the two sets of needs. To do it, we must listen to each other. Criticizing everyone who differs from our ways just leads to more conflict. Learning to understand what others want and finding bridges between us and them is the next step.
I have wondered where to start this process. I discovered one way this morning. I sat in McDonalds, drinking my coffee, eating breakfast and writing in my journal. I noticed the music playing in the background. It consisted of some of my favorite folk ballads from the 1960’s. When I finished breakfast, I told the woman at the register that I would like to register a compliment. I told her how much I enjoyed listening to the music. I could tell that my comment brightened her day and mine as well.
I also visited Aldi’s this morning. I found the store completely rearranged while I was away for the past month. I told the checkout clerk that I liked the new store layout and that it must have been quite a project to make the changes. She also brightened up and we parted both wearing smiles.
These encounters might seem small to you. What if we all looked for ways to compliment each other? Perhaps this might be a start back toward more civilized and mutually supportive communities. Perhaps this would lead to more constructive conversations. Please join me and give it a try.
A 17-year-old basketball player at an Airdrie high school has had more than his fair share of challenges, but he’s never needed to fight for acceptance among his peers while playing the sport he loves.
Tyson Biever, officially known as the manager of the George McDougall Mustangs, has always been an important part of the squad, teaching everyone on the team about unity, acceptance and awareness.
When he was just three months old, Biever was diagnosed with brain cancer.
(Excerpt from Michael Franklin’s article in TV News Calgary- read more)