Doesn't Anyone Care About the Children?

Excerpts from essays submitted to the Harry Singer Foundation by students across the nation

Why Weren't We Told?
“But we were,” will be my answer to the thousands of people, maybe millions who will be asking that question by the year 2000. At the end of this century, the disgraceful and precarious fiscal situation this country is in will be too obvious for any congress or administration to ignore or cover up. It is then we'll hear the above question. Too few are asking it now! We are told that 26 percent of government's income goes to pay interest on the national debt; not paying off the gigantic principal, just the interest. The principal is what we're leaving to our children and grandchildren. “Why weren't we told?” will be the question of the next decade. I may not be around at age 84, so I want to answer it now! And in just three words... “but we were!” Told, that is, by those concerned and willing to speak out. Men, and one woman I know of, trying their best to alert us to the situation we were getting into and the changes it represented. Paul Reveres is what Gary Bauer, former Under Secretary of Education and later a policy advisor to President Reagan, called these people trying to warn us. The Paul Reveres of today. One might have been enough in 1776, but now it takes a number of them to alert us to the dangers and call us to action. Unfortunately, no action of any note has taken place. The ones I have been listening to might not have a horse among them, but they have been sounding a similar clarion call of danger approaching. First, for me there was William Simon, one time Secretary of the Treasury. His two


books, A Time for Truth (1978) and later, A Time for Action (1980), galloped off the pages and into my consciousness. Simon was writing about deficits and the dangers of the growing government debt more than 15 years ago. Was it because he didn't shout it from horseback that not enough people paid serious attention to what Bill Simon was saying in his books and speeches well over 15 years ago? Peter G. Peterson, former Secretary of Commerce wrote and talked about the danger. His first book, Social Security: The Looming Crash, inspired five former U.S.Treasury Secretaries to join forces. William Simon, John Connally, Douglas Dillon and Henry Fowler showed us, and Congress, what financial irresponsibility was doing to the future of our children and grandchildren. Still nothing happened. In a second book, On Borrowed Time, written with Neil Howe, Pete Peterson tried once again to warn us. Its subtitle, How the Growth in Government Spending Threatens America's Future, should have roused the nation. After he got through no one could legitimately ask, “Why weren't we told?” In 1988 I reviewed The Coming Revolution in Social Security, written by Haeworth Robertson, another insider. Robertson, as a former chief actuary of our Social Security system, was not someone who had looked critically at a distant department. It was his department's own inside projections which he viewed with alarm. He didn't need a horse or a clarion cry. He got our attention by letting us know if Social Security is not changed significantly, it will eventually cost more than taxpayers will be willing to pay. He warned that 13 percent of payroll in 1980 would become 40 to 50 percent during the working lives of the students whose words you'll read here. We were told, but did not act. About this time, the very articulate Governor of Colorado and now head of the Center for Public Policy at the University of Denver burst on the national scene saying things about the future which nobody wanted to hear. His book, Megatraumas...In the Year Two Thousand bellowed warnings about where we were headed and pleaded for tough decisions. Too few listened... but we were told. Finally, a courageous woman! Helen P. Rogers, a fourth generation Californian stopped counting on politicians to solve the problems and decided to take matters into her own hands. She ran for the U.S. Senate and wrote an insightful book titled Alternatives. It was her campaign platform and proved that there were intelligent and logical alternatives to the government policies that were leading to a disappointing future for her five children—and ours too! But with no real power behind her, the Senate was not to benefit from this brilliant woman's solutions to some of the problems this country was facing. Those were problems my generation had created by sending so many undisciplined financial spendthrifts to Washington.


Paul Volker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve added his voice and said, “We are in a real sense living on borrowed money and borrowed time.” Martin L. Gross took a different approach. He followed his New York Times best seller, The Government Racket: Washington from A-Z with a Ballantine best seller, A Call for Revolution. Oh yes, you who in ten years or less, will be asking, “Why weren't we told?” must now admit that we were told. We just weren't listening. Maybe the tellers weren't shouting from horseback, but they deserved a far greater and more concerned audience than they received. Tell that to the children. Loren Dunton San Francisco August 9,1994


There is a way to reinvigorate the United States of America; this once great nation that so many people now believe is in an advanced state of decay. We must revive the concept of responsibility. We must practice inner discipline. The young people you will hear from on these pages know this. Do the adults? And if so, why, these kids want to know, are the adults not doing more about the problems? In the foreword, Loren Dunton tells us about prescient adults, the Paul Reveres who have been trying for years to mobilize their neighbors. Mr. Dunton is himself a respected member of this group of animated prophets. Twenty-five years ago he became concerned and to encourage long-range planning, Loren Dunton founded the financial planning profession. Today Mr. Dunton heads the ten year-old non-profit National Center for Financial Education. Kids that lie, cheat, kill and run in packs are part of our future whether we like it or not. Along with the dysfunctional thugs are the thoughtful young people who will have to implement solutions to the problems we adults have eschewed. It's important that we listen to this generation and give the best and brightest of them the help they are so desperately seeking-help just to survive. Kids who see their friends and families murdered, beaten, raped and on drugs are calling out to us. They suspect the criminal justice system is totally impotent. They sense contradictions throughout society, in education, on the street and in their homes. Many of them feel desperate and afraid; others are full of hope. All are begging for our attention. These are the voices of the neglected generation. Here is what they think of the media, of the courts, of their teachers. In these pages some of them reveal their fears while others unveil their hopes and dreams. It's time to not only to listen to what they are telling us, it's time to hear what they are saying. It's time to give this generation the benefit of our experience and the wisdom we have cultivated and kept hidden in an effort to remain humble and tolerant. We can no longer afford to look good, to feel good. The 'touchyfeely' days are over. It is time for all of us, young and old alike, to join forces, roll up our sleeves and get to work. We ignored the Paul Reveres. Are we now going to ignore the children? Doesn't anyone care about the children? Margaret Bohannon-Kaplan Co-Founder, The Harry Singer Foundation Carmel, California August 15,1994


In 1990, a commission of educational, political, medical and business leaders issued a report known as Code Blue which said, “Never before has one generation of American teenagers been less healthy less cared for, or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age. “ In California homicide is the leading cause of death among those in the 20-24 age group and homicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens. In the U.S. the arrest rate for homicides for suspects 17 years-old rose 121 percent in the six years between 1985 and 1991. Violence is epidemic. Drugs are a fixture. Adults may not like it; may deny it; but this is the reality many of our young people live with every day: “My brother drinks at least twice a week and sometimes everyday. He drinks to get high or when he is really upset. My father taught him how to do this. A friend of mine has a cousin who got arrested when he was eighteen for drunk driving. Unlike my brother, he killed someone. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. Laws do not kill an addiction.” Student in Wisconsin “One example of irresponsible behavior involves a classmate of mine. He began drinking about a half year ago. It began as a way to socialize and fit in with the others. His drinking gradually grew into a larger problem. He began drinking more and more often. One night he came home and passed out on the floor. His mother and father found him, and they were very disappointed in his actions. He is a very intelligent guy---he was just irresponsible getting drunk all the time. It finally caught up with him. He has stopped being responsible. He has become an alcoholic.” Kimber Linn, Bondurant-Farrar High School, Bondurant, Iowa “A few years ago a friend of mine's mom was killed in a deadly car accident. Accidents do happen, but this accident was one that could have been prevented if the other driver would have just taken some responsibility for his drinking problem. You see, he had been an alcoholic for many years and was driving drunk that night when he killed her. If he just would have taken the responsibility of calling someone for a ride home or even walked, instead of getting behind the wheel, this accident would not have even happened.” Justin Hron, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “At the school I go to there are many students who go out on Friday and Saturday night to get drunk. Many of these kids drive around in their own cars while they are drinking. I know at least twenty-five people in my class who have driven while intoxicated at least once in their life.” Mark Hegbloom, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “The number of kids who use drugs in my school is increasing, while the number of kids on the honor roll is decreasing. This is just the basic problem of not taking the education

offered to them on drugs seriously.” Kelly Davidson, Ramsey High School, Ramsey, Illinois “Alcohol can kill anyone. It doesn't matter if you are smart or popular, you can still die.” Charity Persson, Lincoln County High School, Eureka, Montana “Just this winter, there were two people on snowmobiles leaving two different bars. They collided head on at the top of the hill and died instantly. One of them was going the wrong way on a one-way trail. If drinking wasn't involved, this may have never happened.” Jessica Moen, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Responsible students ponder the irrationality of it all: “Driving while intoxicated is very irresponsible, as well as dangerous. It takes responsibility to know when a person has had enough to drink. Driving drunk displays a lack of good judgment and character. Drunk drivers should ask themselves why they drive drunk. Do they drive drunk because they think it is cool, grown up, smart or fun?” Jeff Garner, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas A new law (AB4138) was proposed in California in the spring of 1994 which requires any unlicensed driver to surrender the vehicle he/she is driving to the state. A study by the state Department of Motor Vehicles found that 75 percent of DUI [driving under the influence] convicts continue to drive without a license and 15 percent of all car accidents in the state involve this group. We think Jamie (below) is on the right track: “Drugs do something to the brain, to the mind, to the soul, from which many people cannot recover. If drug addiction were something a person could take a shot for, or a couple of aspirins and be okay, it would not be the calamity it is. Right now the government and the police have the responsibility. In Los Angeles County, the police make more than twelve thousand arrests in an attempt to disrupt the activities of an estimated 70,000 drug gang members. They are spending billions of dollars on trying to stop the problem, but it isn't working. The responsibility has to be shifted to the individual.” Jamie Dorman, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas

Should we believe rehashed stories that assure us that crime is on the decline or newly released statistics? In a report issued by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution in the summer of 1994, property and violent crimes per 100,000 people amounted to 190 in 1960, 400 in 1970 and so far in the 1990s about 600. What we have here is another “decrease in the increase.” Thirty years ago people were three times less likely to be robbed, raped or murdered. The report went on to state that 90 percent of all criminal cases are plea-bargained and that most convicted criminals are not sent to prison. Probation and parole are a joke.


Personal knowledge of a victim always makes the crime more outrageous: “Just last year, 1993, I myself lost a family member to a gun shot wound inflicted by a teenager. My 15 year old cousin from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was shot and killed by a 16 year old boy.” Jay Salen, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “I know someone that is getting abused in my family and she has finally left her spouse, because it got to the point that he almost killed her by hanging her from her ankles out a two story building. He abused her so much that their three kids would take it out on each other. One time he came home drunk and started to abuse her again. When he passed out the kids took all the money out of his wallet and took it to school and handed it out. The kids were mad at him because of what he had done to their mother. So they just decided to take the money. Finally, she told him to leave and now everything is much better.” Janine Bailey, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington “Two years ago my sister was on her daily walk just before breakfast. She had taken her usual route up Placer Creek Road and all was going fine. Out of nowhere a man emerged from behind some brush. He was wearing a ski mask and holding a rifle. In a muffled voice he told her to start climbing a steep mountain next to the road. They slowly made their way up to a little camp site the man had set up. Upon reaching the camp the man tied her to a tree and left saying he'd be back in a little bit. Thankfully my sister was able to free herself and race back home before the man returned. My sister was lucky to get away with only rope burns. Previous similar incidents weren't as positive.” John Fleming, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho Children are the victims and children commit the crimes: “A twelve-year-old boy shot a stock broker on a street in Corpus Christi, Texas. As the victim watched, the boy blow the smoke from the gun barrel John Wayne style, then rode off on his bicycle.” Shane Morris, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee In the summer of 1994 a 14 year-old boy killed two men; for food money. In August 1993, a 13 year-old New Yorker was charged with murdering a 4 year-old. Early in 1993 2 year-old James Bulger was beaten, killed and left on train tracks by two 10 year-old boys. This crime shocked England whose murder rate—1.3 per 100,000 people--contrasts to the American rate of 10 per 100,000. “Arrests for murders for adults rose eleven percent from 1982 to 1991, while juveniles arrested rose ninety-three percent. Ten to seventeen year-olds who used firearms to commit murder during the 1980's increased seventy-nine percent.” Carly Brant, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania Monterey County, California has 84 inmates in juvenile hall---14 are awaiting trial for murder or attempted murder. To our north, Santa Cruz has 40 percent of its 29 juveniles facing murder or attempted murder charges. Most are gang-related crimes. But is it any wonder? Children learn what they live. ( See page 138.)


“Ten percent of the children visiting the Boston City Hospital last year had witnessed a shooting or stabbing by the age of six.” Shannon Harrah, Meadow Bridge High, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia On June 28,1994 in Salinas, California, a 10 year old girl testified in court to seeing her father fatally stab her mother. Can any of us begin t imagine the trauma that child went through? Steve Yeoman has a chilling hypotheses: “Part of the reason children of today are acting foolishly and recklessly may be because today's young people look at violence in a completely different way than that of a former generation. Whether or not violence in today's society should be blamed on the on-screen violence will probably always be an issue that can never be agreed upon. One thing, however, has already been agreed upon. The world's values and its sense of decency have somehow declined. Both groups have agreed that it is time to change some- thing. Whether it be content of programming or the actions of parents, something has to be done. If the problem isn't solved soon, up and coming generations will be running the world with a completely different outlook on violence, and it won't necessarily be good.” Steve Yeoman, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Other students offer evidence to support Steve's contention: “Children have a value system of their own. They are becoming rebels against a society that does not give them a chance. One peculiar value is demonstrated by a teen-ager who prowls Manhattan's Upper East Side in search of eyes to gouge. To date, he has made known attempts on a bus driver, a journalist, Egyptian tourist, the son of former Manhattan Democratic Party Leader Edward Costikyan and others. We are facing a society where standards have been lowered and blurred. The traditional and constraining institutions of family, church and school have lost much of their authority.” Jodie Lewis, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Juvenile criminals don't believe they have anything to lose. These kids think that their lives are worth nothing, and they can only gain by committing a violent crime. They can gain a little time on TV and in the papers, and maybe a stay in jail or prison, where they usually have friends already waiting.” Sarah Mandler, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “Many gang members don't want to live the life they live, but the simple fact is, they feel they have no place to turn; they don't know of any other lifestyle. Many of the gangsters are in gangs because all they know is violence. They don't go out and get jobs, because they were not taught the value of a job. Their outlook on life is totally different from others.” Nicole Schepp, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “The youth of America have begun looking towards gangs as ways to make drug money and to be part of a fellowship that believes it doesn't matter who is killed or hurt, only


that their gang stays alive.” Brenner Farr, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “Kids commit crimes for the thrill. It gets the adrenaline flowing when they are in the middle of a crime. It is like a high for them once they get going. It's like a drug; once they get the high from doing it, they keep coming back for more.” Jo Haun, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “A group of California guys, known as the Spur Posse, view sex with girls as a contest. For every girl they sleep with, they obtain a point. A mother of one Spur Posse member offered the explanation that it was all just a 'testosterone thing.' Parents should not condone or excuse this kind of disgusting behavior. By justifying her son's behavior, she [the mother] is part of the problem; not the solution.” Carrie Patterson, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia Is the “testosterone thing” similar to the old justification for irresponsible behavior, “boys will be boys?” If you think so, then how would you classify a recent “prank” which took place at the end of the 1993-94 school year in Northern California? Male students packed sixty-five pounds of a powdered chemical into a concrete drinking fountain and ignited it. The resultant flames spewed thirty feet onto a crowded school yard, injuring several students. A gymnast from Beijing sent her seven month-old daughter to her mother back in China in June 1994 because one of the two men accused of attacking her and her husband jumped bail. The attack was in retaliation for reporting graffiti taggers. The majority of Americans are still reluctant to think of spray-painting private property as a crime. On July 25, 1994 when a large group of teen-taggers surrounded a San Francisco municipal bus in broad daylight and managed to inflict damages totaling $5,000 in a matter of minutes, the media treated the episode lightly. Others believe society's tolerance of cheating and vandalism may inadvertently encourage an escalation to terrorism and killing. They are the less tolerant Americans who applauded the caning of American teenager Michael Fay by the government of Singapore in the spring of 1994. His offense was vandalism. “Another area of youth delinquency is vandalism. I chose this because it just recently happened in our high school. Youths broke into the high school, and spray painted walls, broke glass, wrote obscene gestures on chalk boards, and simply tore up classrooms. It is suspected that this was done by teenagers who attended the school. Why anyone would want to break into their own school, or any school as far as that goes, is beyond me, but this is just another problem with our society today.” Ben Tenpenny, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Many people would like officials to crack-down on minor offenses like thoughtless pranks and cheating. Their feelings are expressed accurately in Colleen's excerpt:


“Children who are not disciplined become rebellious adolescents.” Colleen Hofer, James Valley Christian, Huron, South Dakota The hope is that by taking irresponsibility seriously, it will not develop into more serious crime: “These types of irresponsible behavior are also present in common, everyday places, like school. One such instance was described to me by a teacher. He had a student who consistently came to him after receiving her graded test to point out an error in which he marked problems wrong that were in fact correct. After three or four times, the teacher began to suspect the student of changing her answers after getting her tests back. To see if his assumption was correct, the teacher made a photocopy of her test before giving it back to her. Sure enough, he found a mistake. This time, however, the teacher pulled out his photocopy and found that she had indeed changed her answer. The student was not embarrassed, as one might suspect. She was upset, saying that the teacher did not trust her. This may seem ironic to us, but she felt that her cheating, or getting caught cheating, was the teacher's fault.” Ellen Walles, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois Shane (below) shows where tolerating cheating has led: “The first study done in 1941 [found] that twenty-three percent of college students cheated. [A 1992] study [found that] sixty percent of college students cheated.” Shane Andrus, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington Every year the Harry Singer Foundation receives well over a thousand papers and every year the identical paragraph is found in several papers, sometimes with quotation marks and a citation and sometimes without. The latter are automatically disqualified for cash awards. We urge students to pay attention to what Amy says in the next excerpt.: “I believe that the cheating in schools and colleges has gotten extremely out of hand. It has become way too easy to slip through a class the dishonest way. One of the most common ways of cheating is plagiarism. Students often write down the words from a published book or magazine in the exact order as they were originally written without quoting the author. The teachers grading these papers often do not detect this dishonesty; therefore, not a lot is done to prevent this.” Amy Nelson, Lubbock-Cooper High School, Lubbock, Texas Judging by the excerpt below, either we should dispatch a fact-finding group to Alaska or some students are pulling-the-wool over Tara's eyes: “I have done a survey and my results show teens have a lot of responsibility when it comes to cheating. I asked if they had ever cheated on a test and many of them said they hadn't and wouldn't even if they knew they could get away with it. The majority of them said that they turn in most, if not all, of their homework.” Tara F. Miller, Hoonah High School, Hoonah, Alaska The excerpts that follow show that it is not much of a reach from cheating on a school paper to stretching the truth on a tax-return to practicing fraud as a fullfledged criminal:


“People readily admit they cheat on their taxes. IRS figures based on statistical samplings of returns show that employees who have income taxes withheld from their paychecks contribute their due 97 to 98 percent of the time. For people who don't have income taxes withheld from their paychecks, but who aren't self-employed, the rate for truthful reports drops to 84 to 92 percent. Only 60 to 64 percent of self-employed people report truthfully. These people are irresponsible in not obeying the laws and cheating.” Rebecca M. Watkins, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “There was a man hauling gas for a gas company and after he would make all of his deliveries daily he would take whatever extra gas he had left from his delivery truck and put it in his own tank at his house. That is simply theft; there is nothing else really to say.” Drew Johnson, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “A friend of the family had part of the kitchen in their house burn down. The insurance claim was made for a sizable amount of money for property which they did not own. They received what they asked for the damaged goods. They replaced the kitchen, which is much nicer than it was before the fire plus there was enough money to build a large addition to the house. This type of behavior is very profitable, but not very ethical.” Michele Paulick, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “There are many examples of irresponsible behavior in our society. One example is people that fake injuries at their workplace, then take workman's compensation as a supplement because they can't work. This dishonest behavior costs all of us who pay the insurance premiums a lot of money.” Lee Austin, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota The following is a typical example of what we all hear on news spots every day: Two executives of Diablo Products, a manufacturer of degreasers and oven and grill cleaners, were arrested for dumping chemicals into public waterways. “Perhaps one of the trickiest scams where people try to abuse the system involved two Russian brothers who took advantage of our health care system. The brothers used over 350 front companies to fabricate insurance billings totaling more than one billion dollars. They used the companies to promise patients care that they didn't receive. The scams started with a phone pitch promising free medical exams. The patients were then sent to expensive mobile clinics. The doctors then charged insurers an average of $8,000 per patient. This was the biggest health care scam in U.S. history. The two have since been caught and are awaiting their sentence in a California court.” Alan Welburn, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “Government employees are using the food stamp system for their own advancement. In Detroit, a social worker submitted Mae Duncan's application into the system and Miss Duncan was sent $26,000 in food stamps. Mae Duncan not only didn't need the money, but she doesn't even exist. The social worker was having Mae's stamps, along with 26 other nonexistent people's stamps, sent to her address.... Other cases similar to this one


are reported on a regular basis from all over the country. Over $5 billion of the $24 billion set aside for this program is lost every year due to fraud.” Lisa Wharton, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota Unfortunately we too often hear of the crooks that either don't get caught or don't get punished. Crime looks easy and entices those with weak character: “An owner of a grocery store in East St. Louis paid as little as sixty-five cents on the dollar for food stamps. He later cashed them in for full value. He redeemed $1.3 million in a year and a half. Ten years earlier Coates Market had been disqualified from the foodstamp program for fraud. Six months later it was back on the program. Two social service caseworkers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana issued $50,000 in food stamps to nonexistent recipients. Nobody seemed to notice the state clerk in Minnesota who pocketed $180,000 worth of returned food stamps in nine months.” Mike Tallon, Lexington High School, Lexington, Illinois Criminals make skeptics out of impressionable young people: “Last week during Sunday School service, people came to the door and asked for money. They said they were from Hayard, Kentucky. They said they had run out of gas and wanted money to get home. The church gave them money, and three days later they were arrested in Ashland, Kentucky for drug trafficking. These people have no responsibility for anything; they respect no one.” Jeremy Hall, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio Perhaps we need to lighten up a bit at this point. An excerpt from the paper submitted by Michael Lantz may do the trick: “Recently a man robbed a bank and the escape car was, well--a cab. The burglar was seen leaving the bank in the cab, making it very easy for the police to apprehend the suspect. It never occurred to the cab driver [to suspect his passenger] despite the [passenger] paying $73 for a $24 ride. How odd for a person to take a cab to go rob a bank. Perhaps he should of just called the cops and asked them for a ride. Did you hear the story about the suspect who was caught red han…uh, footed? This man was a prisoner at a Rockland County state prison. He escaped from this jail and fled into the woods. Good thing for the authorities, but not for the prisoner, he was wearing those sneakers which light when you step down. It was easy to follow him in the dimly lit woods with the red lights flashing. How could one be so, so stupid?” Michael Lantz, Valhalla High School, Valhalla, New York Michael's story reminded us of a robber in Clearfield, Pennsylvania who wore his old army fatigue jacket with his name on it! Many suggest educators and politicians alike are shirking their responsibilities: “I heard about a student-run LSD ring in a school in Virginia with which administrators refused to get involved. Reports claimed that these drug transactions took place outside of the school, but on school property. Administrators claimed that since this went on outside of the school building, it was not a concern of the school administration. They would not


monitor the suspected students, and offered no help to police.” Jeremy Wyatt, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “In Omaha, one boy held a gun to the head of a fifth grader. School authorities treated the incident only as a school disciplinary problem, a couple of months later the boy shot a young girl with a .45 automatic...reflection of what goes on in the outside world.” Amanda Hanson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “The moral, responsible people in this country should demand that our leaders and legislators place the emphasis back on the values that make a country strong rather than sitting by and letting these values be replaced by behavior that destroys the fabric of our society and makes us weak.” Matthew Grandon, Valley Springs High, Valley Springs, Arkansas “The idea of getting off and passing the blame must be changed to punishing and learning a lesson.” Julie Irion, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “Also there is a group of students at my school working on getting a bill passed to increase penalties for youths committing violent crimes. This could be the most important step being taken, because youths are the ones in charge, and the ones that are trying to get this passed. One student said, 'We feel that kids must be taught that the taking of a life is not a trivial matter'.” Ben Tenpenny, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “The harm this increasing violence causes is far reaching. The sad thing is these are not the majority of the students causing the increase in violence. Why then, do they have this power; and whose responsibility is it to change things and make schools safe places of learning? ... Students do not realize the strength they have in numbers and that positive peer pressure can also have an effect.” Sarah Parrish, New Underwood High, New Underwood, South Dakota “Many people in this country feel that the institution of education is in severe decline. Schools are deteriorating; good teachers are abandoning the profession; students perceive little value in the subjects they are taught, and officials of other nations openly mock our educational standards and institutions. Our schools have become hotbeds of violence, vandalism, and unethical behavior. And most people feel it is not their problem. Candidates who are running for office are largely ignoring the issue of education reform. When they do mention it, it is stressed largely as a means of restoring our industrial competitiveness. This makes education an aspect of the economy, and not a fundamental institution necessary for the survival of society. Serious education reform cannot be achieved until there is a significant increase in the number of people, political leaders, educators, parents and students agreeing that widespread reform is needed and agreeing on general ways to go about achieving it. Educators must realize that their work, coupled with the institution of family, is the key factor in shaping a young person's life, and


deciding what kind of citizen they will someday be.” Jeremy Wyatt, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee In the excerpt that follows, Stephanie makes a point that psychologists would affirm: “How can kids take responsibility for their own actions when they are told consistently they are bad, corrupted kids caught in the crossfire of a messed up society? Most of them start to believe it if told enough. They may begin to think, 'Hey, society has caused us to be this way so we better start fulfilling this idea.'“ Stephanie Wilson, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas At this point we would like to suggest that readers obtain a copy of Urban Sanctuaries: Neighborhood Organizations in the Lives and Futures of Inner-City Youth a 1994 book published by Jossey-Bass and written from interviews conducted on the streets by Milbrey McLaughlin, Merita Irby and Janet Langman. (Contact the Foundation if you need help.) Stephanie's excerpt above reminded us of a passage on page 32 in which a 17 year-old gang member tells us something that all of us, but especially teachers, should know about the way kids in the crossfire view schools. Teachers and schools generally are experienced as hostile, uncaring entities that label gang youth as lessers and treat them as if they were invisible. What Tito recalls from his school days is that teachers 'think 'cuz you're in a gang that you're just wasting your time [in school]. But you don't have to get up in the morning if you don't want to. You get up in the morning, you get dressed, you take a bath, and you go there 'cuz you wanna go.' Tito feels teachers are not even going to try to teach gang members. Yet he thinks that 'all gangbangers need is somebody to talk to 'em. Sit'em down and say, 'Hey man, this is the only way you gonna learn, man. If you go around like this, ain't nobody else gonna teach you.' However, he says, '[Teachers] don't do things like that. They won't sit down. They won't come by me and say, 'You know, Tito, you should try to do this work 'cuz if you don't do it' They all let me sit there all day. [They] walk right past me.' If you can read that passage without being touched then you'd better read it again. You and I and Tito know that feeling sorrow and making “feel- better” promises is not enough. Action is required!

“There is no real education about racism and gangs.” Christie Brady, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois Most of the students quoted here have had little first-hand experience with gangs. We have had students from large inner-city schools participate in past HSF programs, but this year's contest demanded more time than those teachers could give. But kids talk, even without first-hand know- ledge. What they have to say may

be a bit more authentic than what adult- researchers are reporting: “A friend of mine in Eatonville, Washington got caught up in a gang forming in Tacoma. After transferring to my school, he had plenty of stories of friends killing or being killed in the de-initiation from his gang. The only way out is getting out of town and when you live in South Central that's no choice at all.” John Fleming, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “In my personal experience, living in Seattle for two years, you pick up on gang activity quickly. I heard of most violence occurring on weekends. At that time a lot of gangs were coming up from Los Angeles. A friend of mine was involved with a gang. He said to me, ‘Ya get in the big cities and violence is something that is just there. Ya better kill them before they kill you. It's best to keep your damn mouth shut; silence is your best defense. Ya talk shit and you're gonna die.’ Gangs can and will get just about anything they want. If it's guns or drugs they'll find it or get someone who can.” Josh Barnes, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “I've been on a few ride-alongs with a police officer and on his radio there were problems with gangs constantly. We responded to one call which reported about gang trouble. The Cambodian gang was arguing with the Sureno gang about race, but an officer broke it up before anyone was injured.” Todd Gordon, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California “The scary part of all these gang related crimes, is that they are not just one area of the county, but wide spread and growing. The larger, more powerful gangs are swallowing up the smaller ones. They are becoming more violent...once the gangs do make truce they don't know what to do with themselves next.” Nicole Schepp, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota At the end of the 1993-94 school year an honors student with a 3.97 grade point average, who was also president of the student council, was senselessly killed as he was leaving a graduation party in San Diego. He was a victim of gang violence. “Some of these armed citizens are children, and they walk the streets with loaded weapons. Most don't realize the severity of their actions. They feel safe just knowing they hold the potential to protect themselves. But they couldn't be more mistaken. Shawnee County Sheriff Dave Meneley stated in a speech to high school students that an individual carrying a weapon is four times more likely to be injured or killed. Even with these warnings and facts most youth ignore such statistics. Due to their false sense of invincibility they feel as if they are the exception. Many even bring their weapons into schools and other public buildings where the risk of problems greatly increases. Many students complain of not feeling safe in their own school.” Erik Pollom, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “Students are afraid to pass through a certain area because it’s the territory of a gang. If this territory has been invaded you better watch your back for the rest of life.” Chad Lane, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota


“Gangs are almost always revolving around sex. In many gangs, guys have to have sex with many females in order to become a member of the particular gang. I also heard of a female gang in which girls have to have sex with a person with the AIDS virus in order to become a member.” Danna Hines, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “In Chicago a group of gang members fell upon two teenage girls who were walking home one night. They repeatedly raped them and then strangled them. They made sure they were dead by standing on their necks. During the trial they repeatedly showed signs that they were proud of being in a case as big as that one. Later a member of that gang was seen on a tape saying the words, ‘Life means nothing.’ Violence on television also teaches other negative things.” Brad Ziegler, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois “In Wichita about 74 gangs sell drugs, run guns, steal and kill. Members now numbers about 1,200. In 1992 36 gang-related killings occurred... To help in the Wichita gang problem, a violent crime/gangs task force was developed.” Dennis Kregar, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “In the past few years Topeka has gone from being simply the capital of Kansas to being infamous for gang-related violence, youth crime and bigotry.” Erik Pollom, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “Gangs are just another of the obvious side affects of a warped nation. When kids feel more safe and secure in groups of other kids carrying guns and drugs, and who knows what else, there is something wrong.” Rebecca P. Moore, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas At the age of eleven a young boy was given a shot gun by a violent sub-group of the South Central Los Angeles Crips and he began a life of violence that earned him the name Monster. From his prison cell in California he wrote a 383 page book full of violence and gore which he insists is nothing more than “reality and life the way it happens every day.” In South Central, he claims, everybody belongs to a gang. He joined for power and to stay alive and intends to spend his life outside prison agitating against our current political system. “As the traditional social supports have disappeared for most teenagers, they begin to learn things from their peers, drug dealers, or other people who engage in criminal conduct. Instead of going to school and working their way up to a good job through education, young people see the fast and easy money drug dealing makes and make their money through gangs and drug dealers.” Beth Civitarese, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania “Gangs killing gangs, drive-by shootings, and guns in school are all harmful in more than one way. Younger kids who have older brothers who carry guns and are in a gang will most likely grow up to be just like the person that they looked up to when they were a


kid. If kids grow up to be like their role models the U.S. is going to be a very unstable place to live...if we would all try to set new morals for younger kids today, then one hundred years from now kids will look at academic role models with good grades instead of kids today who look for role models in how many people they have killed.” Ronald Scheffler, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota The following is from an interview aired on C-Span Monday September 27, 1993 with Chris Matthews, Washington DC correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle: As an American I'm offended when people in Europe can't visit this country, rent a car and drive to the airport in safety. What's wrong with this country? The reason we're the greatest country in the world, the greatest country ever, is because we've succeeded at home. It's not because we've won wars abroad--we've lost a few abroad—but we've tried to build a fair, successful society. We're failing at that now. Whole parts of this country are failures in terms of society. Kids are growing up getting shot at, having to arm themselves to survive. This is a problem. It's easy to go to Somalia and send the troops. It's like a John Wayne movie. Send those troops to South East Washington to disarm people. We can't do it! The bottom line is that we can't solve our own problems. We have to do it legally and constitutionally. But we have not found a way to make our streets safe. Public safety should be the number one issue in this country domestically and we're afraid [to touch it] Clinton won't touch it. The Republicans won't touch it. All you do is say 'capital punishment' once in awhile. That's not the solution; the solution is law enforcement. Every city has this problem and it's getting into the suburbs and the country. The problem is that we are so good at going overseas and promising to solve people's problems in Beirut, or solving their problems in Grenada or in Panama [but] we can't restore order and public safety in the United States, and that's our problem.

Poor Role Models
Northern California kids attending a youth camp were able to witness five people being arrested by police and equipment used to manufacture drugs being seized on July 27, 1994. The suspects had been dumping cancer- causing chemicals into the creek bordering the kids camp. Role models are a powerful incentive to good and evil. We like the simple way Joel and Richard put it: “The way that people act has a great impact on how we feel about our country. Those that do good make us feel proud, and those that do bad make all of us ashamed.” Joel Alajoki, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


“The children need heroes to look up to and say 'that is how I want to be when I grow up!’” Richard Espinoza , Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado Hao Duong interjects a word of caution from his personal experience with role models: “I learned early on that role models don't always meet...the expectations we place on them. When I first left elementary school, I didn't know what to expect. In junior high we were exposed to new and exciting things. We heard stories of wild parties, we saw 'real' fist fights and we saw ourselves being the older, popular people with people looking up to us... In this day and age we need and we want good role models. People look up to people who are older, people who have been through the same situations. ...When we are young it seems so unrealistic that we could be adults someday. Adults seemed too old and being a grown-up never even crossed our minds. As we grow older our perspectives on life, our plans for the future and our role models change. As teenagers we begin to plan for the future. We have, for the most part, decided what we plan to be and what kind of people we would like to become. We have made these decisions using the knowledge that we have acquired and the influences that we have been exposed to. We now look to adults to help us grow and mature into the people that we want to become. They don't always behave appropriately... In 1993, River Phoenix, a popular young actor, died outside a bar due to this use of drugs. Mike Tyson, the former Heavyweight Champion of the World in boxing, was stripped of his title and sent to prison because he was convicted of rape.” Hao is wise as well as cautious: “There are some positive stories in the celebrity world if we are willing to listen...Chris Webber, a rookie star in the NBA and a former All-American on the college and high school level, used his money and fame to start the Time Out Foundation to help underprivileged kids get a better start in life. Role models aren't bad to have, but we must learn to distinguish which we will follow. Who we choose to admire is our decision, but at an early age parents should begin to guide and educate their children so that when the time come they will make the right choice based on what they have learned. When children are older it is much harder to get through and make an impact on their opinions.” Hao Duong, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania Others spoke their minds concerning role models: “I saw a Nike commercial with Charles Barkley where he states, 'I'm not a role model.' In the same light, the creator of MTV's Beavis and Butthead can't understand how anyone could watch the show and see the two cartoon teens as role models. Wake up guys!! People believe what they see on TV. Every little kid wants to be a big basketball star, so what message is Charles Barkley sending when he talks trash in games and spits on little girls? He's telling every kid who's watching that it's cool to be rude to others. And what about the little kid who lit a fire, which resulted in burning his three-year-old sister, after watching Beavis and Butthead playing with fire on TV. They aren't role models, huh?” Sandy Gunther, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


“All parents want their children to respect them, but they [parents] must first be respectable.” Jo Haun, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “If parents cannot accept responsibility, then how can we expect our children to accept it?... When parents have difficulty interacting with each other, it can have a serious effect on children. Children adopt their parents' values.” Jeremy Hoffpauir, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma “Children look at their parents as role models so therefore our parents have to show us responsibility before we can learn it.” Angie Gillispie, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “People are at their most impressionable time when they are children. From birth until children are finished their schooling is about the time span where good role models are important.” Leah Wilkerson, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “Parents, teachers, and any other adult can preach until they're blue in the face, but it won't help one bit until adults start living by their own standards.” Heather Stearns, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois The following excerpt may show the reason for those nasty lawyer jokes: “While taking the bar exam, two young would-be attorneys were faced with a situation; one of their fellow law students had a seizure and collapsed. One student, a lifeguard, and the other, an RN, jumped to the victims aid. For forty minutes they administered CPR until paramedics arrived. All of the other students continued working on the exam, yet when the two rescuers returned to work they were denied any more time because it was against the legal rules. This example shows that it doesn't always pay to help someone in need, yet isn't that a lawyer's responsibility?” Angie Guthrie, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota The students did not forget the politicians: “Representatives promise all they can to ensure being elected, but their promises fall apart when it comes to fulfilling them. They go into office with all kinds of problems facing them, but put them off. They propose many changes that sound good to the public but do nothing when it comes to fixing preexisting problems. They do not take responsibility of their duties and the trust that has been given to them by the American people. Part of the responsibility of their office is to set an example of leadership, wisdom, fairness, and honesty. Officials with this kind of responsibility are becoming extinct.” Jeff Garner, Blue Ridge High, Blue Ridge, Texas “When House Speaker Tom Foley attended a U.S. British meeting last summer, he decided to take time for a bit of cycling in the English countryside. Fine. But he wanted to ride his own bicycle, so the Air Force had to pick up his and Mrs. Foley's cycles at


their home and deliver them to Andrews Air Force Base for the flight. In a case like this, the dollars are usually small, but they can add up.” Anthony Gonzales, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “Only a person of good character deserves the public's trust. Public officials should be role models.” Trang Le, Central Islip High School, Central Islip, New York

The following quotation is the most poignant of any we came across while putting this book together. We hope it jumps out at you as it did at us and convinces you that American youth is crying out for adult help. “Teenagers…are not afraid of the electric chair, they’re afraid of the next day where they could be killed at any time.” Andy Waller, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota Surely you agree our youngsters deserve to feel protected and secure. That’s the very least any society should provide for its youth. How then can we ignore Andy, above, and the student excerpts reproduced below? “America: Land of the free and home of the brave? ... Because of gang violence we are not free to walk the streets at night unless getting shot at, and possibly killed, is called being free. ‘Home of the Brave’ may be a little more suitable because some people have to be either brave or stupid to be playing with guns in the streets like toys. Some even put down others, even if it means getting killed.” David Campbell, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington Violence does not end with the school day nor is it confined to campuses. According to Jim Weill of the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, DC 50,000 children died from gun fire over the last twelve years: “Forty percent of teens feel that the threat of violence is always there and it makes them unhappy to think they have to grow up with this feeling of threat all their lives.” Annie Williams, Niantic-Harristown High School, Niantic, Illinois “A recent poll of adult Americans taken by Time illustrates the fear…. Fifty-nine percent of the people who live in cities worry about being victims of a crime.” Scott Shields, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Many children are growing up scared. There is so such crime. Sex and kidnapping.” Sara Knobloch, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois


“If kids are exposed to this amount of violence in everyday life and there is no one there to teach them differently, what do you think is going to happen fifteen years from now?” Justus Snyder, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “They [children] have no chance to have fun and be kids when they have to run from drug-pushers, gang-bangers and deadly bullets. Some of the children that fall victim to…bullets aren’t even outside. S nine-month-old baby was in his walker in his grandmother’s kitchen when seven bullets came through the front door, one hitting his tiny frame. He had no chance. The bullets were [part] of a dispute over a T-shirt…. In less than nine days three other children were killed.” Alayne Stringer, Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho Who is not outraged? There’s no end to the madness! Schools are not safe havens: “Many students are afraid to go to school and therefore are not getting the education they need. They would rather live without an education than die trying to get one…. In Maryland a seventeen-year-old boy strangled a friend of fifteen for a pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes. In Chicago four youths were killed for their warm-up jackets during a six-month period…. In many inner-city schools guards are being placed at all entrances to check for drugs and weapons. Metal detectors are used and ‘bullet drills’ are conducted along with fire drills. Carol Beck, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, New York, has set up ‘grieving rooms’. These rooms are used by students and teachers to discuss the deaths of their fellow students and other personal problems. Several discuss the deaths of their fellow students and other personal problems. Several of the rooms are occupied throughout the day and all students and staff members are encouraged to go.” Shane Morris, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “Students are afraid to come to school today because of all the crime…[and] the killing going on. They don’t know if they will live trough the day. Students are also afraid to come to school because of the fear they have of gangs who deliberately provoke fights.” Chuck Challstrom, Froid High School, Froid, Montana “Just imagine that you were back in high school and walking down the hallway, and out of nowhere gunshots ring out! A few years ago situations like this only occurred in nightmares. In today’s high schools it’s not a rare occurrence.” Matt Wadisk, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “There are more than three million crimes a year in 85,000 U.S. public schools. An estimated 270,000 guns are brought to school every single day. In a study conducted by Joseph Sheley and M. Dwayne Smith, twenty percent of high school students said that shooting someone for stealing from them was okay. In the same survey, eight percent agreed that shooting someone for offending them was justifiable as well.” Abbye Goodling, Big Spring High, Newville, Pennsylvania


“In suburban Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, twenty-one percent of high schoolers say they carried a gun to school last year. Seventy-three percent said they did this to protect themselves. Also seventy percent of their families own a gun.” Shannon Harrah, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “According to the University of Michigan, about nine percent of eighth graders carry a knife, club or bun to school at least once a month. According to the same study, almost eleven percent of eighth graders are afraid for their life when they go to school. With these numbers so high, how much learning can be done in this type of environment? Sure, the cost of metal detectors is great but I think it is a small price to pay.” Josh Barnes, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “In Dartmouth High School, just south of Boston, three teenagers armed with bats and knives entered a government class with the intent of causing bodily harm to a student, Shawn Pina…. When the three asked the class where Shawn was, a friend, Jason Robinson, asked what they wanted with Pina. One of the three then stabbed Robinson in the abdomen, killing him.” Jason Norris, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “In Utah, a sixteen year old boy was taken naked during school from the shower by ten teammates, bound with tape to a towel rack and put on display for a score of his classmates, male and female. There was no disciplinary action taken.” Justin Johnson, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “Just recently I read an article in Health that astonished me to the point that I had to read it to my family and friends. It told about a high school senior named George Modica who was shot in the spine by a fourteen-year-old freshman. The freshman, whose name is protected by law, said George was pushing him around in the hall.” Jason Tenhonen, Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho “A recent U.S. Justice Department survey of 10,000 twelve to nineteen year olds found that two percent of an estimated 400,000 students nationwide had been the victims of a violent crime at school. It also found that fifty-three percent of victims of violent crime and nineteen percent of non-victims feared such an attack. If we do not get guns out of school, kids will always be afraid of something happening and they will not be able to learn.” Scott Fowler, Camden Central High School, Camden Tennessee “Schools in the inner city resemble prisons because of the bars across the windows, camera monitors, bolt4d doors and identification badges on the students.” Annie Harper, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “High school is indeed a very dangerous place today and it reflects a severe lack of responsibility.” Robert Jimenez, Hereford High School, Hereford, Texas


No Responsibility
Harn-Jen's prescription (below) for controlling crime--a large dose of responsibility-was recommended repeatedly by students: “It is every person's responsibility to [use] restraint when under great pressure. When they lash out and resort to violence they are being irresponsible.” Harn-Jen Shiue, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “The responsibility for getting this problem under control lies first with the students and teens of this country. I think that the parents and schools share the next biggest burden of responsibility. Students definitely need more discipline from both places. There is not much that lawmakers can do. If a student desires a gun badly enough, he will get one; but [getting one] should be made as difficult as possible. If the teens themselves and [their] parents do not take responsibility for their actions, pretty soon every school in America will have had a murder and everyone will be toting guns and killing each other over stupid things like sneakers or a girlfriend.” Jory Wipf, James Valley Christian High School, Huron, South Dakota But does the primary responsibility fall on the shoulders of our youth, as Jory claims in his excerpt above? Perhaps adults have confused priorities. Rebecca suggests as much in her excerpt below: “As a whole, members of today's society are unwilling to take time to admit their fears and weaknesses, or even share their experiences. They are neglecting to teach values to the young generation. They don't want to sit down and talk with some 'stupid, immature, out-of-touch-with-reality teenager.' Most kids today feel like they are at the bottom of the list of national priorities, and it's no wonder when you look at the average American child's day. They wake up at 6:30 am and are rushed out the door to an impersonal day care center where they are dealt with 'en masse.' Now, that is no way to instill 'family values.' How can we expect kids to take pride in themselves when their own parents place more value on earning money than on raising their kids. There always seems to be some bigger dilemma on our nation's agenda. But while we are trying to make peace, pay off the national debt, nationalize health care, save the environment and keep our own citizens from killing each other, a left to raise [itself].” Rebecca Reim, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Isn't protection the primary obligation of government? Andy Chen thinks so: “The fourth definition for responsibility [given in Andy's paper] indicates an involvement of duty or obligation. Well, it is the government's obligation to make its own nation safe to live in. However, it is a fact that the crime rate in the United States is one of the worst in the world.” Andy Chen, New Providence High School, New Providence, New Jersey Obviously government is losing the battle and we are seeing more and more children without hope. The results of a study concerning child rape and conducted by the Bureaus of Justice and Statistics was made public in June, 1994. Although only eleven states and the District of Columbia have kept data concerning the age of

sex victims, the study extrapolated the findings to the entire nation and reported that in 1992 17,000 girls eleven years old or younger were raped and invariably by someone they knew. This does not consider unreported rapes. The percentage of rape victims under age eighteen who actually reported the crime to police are as follows: Rhode Island=70 Alabama=38; Arkansas=44; Delaware=71; Florida=46; Idaho=35; Michigan=68; Nebraska=42; North Dakota=57; Pennsylvania=42; and Wisconsin=42. More and more teens are taking their own lives: “Almost one in three people I know can name someone they knew who committed suicide. I myself can name about four off the top of my head.... If someone's child commits suicide, or runs away; maybe it wasn't 'that evil music they listen to.' Maybe it was the parent's own fault in raising the kid badly, or possibly the social scene at school. It could be a number of things, things people don't like to accept, things that hurt, but things that are nonetheless the truth. Music and lyrics aren't going to do it, and they shouldn't be seen as an easy way to dodge your responsibility.” Lindsay Lifrieri, New Providence High School, New Providence, New Jersey “A survey was taken in 1991 of United States high school students and results were very surprising. An admitted twenty-seven percent said that they had thought seriously about suicide at least once in the past year. Also, eight percent revealed that they had actually tried to kill themselves during that period.” Tricia Camp, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington On July 26, 1994 a 20 year-old top-ranked ice skater took his own life in Palo Alto, California. “We want to stop death, not [encourage] it. I feel there is a solution to every problem and death is not the solution.” Tiffany Wagner, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas We need to find a solution to teen suicide that will satisfy Tiffany and her peers and their younger brothers and sisters. According to Cindy (below) adult researchers are working on the problem: “Researchers believe that the breakdown in the American family is one of the leading causes of teen suicide. ...Up until the late 1950s, most families lived with or close to their extended family. This would include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This gave many young adolescents the opportunity to talk to someone about their problems. Today most of these relatives live far away and many parents aren't home so teens keep their problems to themselves. Today's teens are in trouble and they feel they have nowhere to turn. They are desperately crying out for help, but no one listens. When society finally hears their cries, it may be too late.” Cindy Fuerstenberg, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin

Teen Pregnancy

As if violence were not enough for teens to worry about: “It is like just one big circle; kids getting drunk, shooting up, and having sex. Some kids do it just to be 'cool'. Others do it to run away from family or friend problems. Since these kids are high when they engage in these activities, they feel wrong or 'dirty' afterwards, if they even remember it, and some get saddled with a bigger problem— unplanned pregnancy or a serious sexually transmitted disease, like Aids.” JoEllyn Cordes, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “Sex is almost accepted, and probably expected from today's teens. When talk of sex comes up, rarely is contraception included in the conversation.” Danielle Bngowatz, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “In support of the teenagers today, I don't believer our parents' generation can actually understand how treacherous the waters have gotten since they were at sea.... For the teenagers of today, responsibility has become more of a threat than a promise.... Now, with the AIDS virus looming over the heads of all sexually active teens, as well as the many other STD's [sexually transmitted diseases]which are present in the world today, both partners have a responsibility to each other to be sure they are untouched by any of these diseases before becoming intimate.” Benjamin E. Debiec, Antietam High, Reading, Pennsylvania “A study done in 1987 said that in America each day 3,000 teenagers become pregnant which results in one million a year. Four out of five are not married and over half of them get an abortion to solve this problem. These statistics should tell people that we need to start educating everyone a lot more.” Trisha Olson, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin A 1994 Roper poll of 503 students in grades 9-12 found that 75 percent of the sexually active teens were using birth control regularly, 72 percent had sex in their parents' home, 60 percent thought their parents were aware of this activity and 54 percent of the teens who had sexual intercourse wish they had waited. A report issued by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in June, 1994, found that teens who have learned to use contraceptives are doing a better job of not getting pregnant than are their less informed counterparts. Actually the number of teen pregnancies has held at about one million a year for the past twenty years. What has changed is the percentage as the number of sexually active teens has increased. According to the same report, over fifty percent of girls and seventy-five percent of boys under age eighteen are not virgins. Seventy percent of the babies born to teens are born out of wedlock and only two percent of all illegitimate babies are offered for adoption. Unfortunately responsibility is learned and takes discipline: “Many of my other friends are sexually active and do not use birth control because it is not as convenient. They sometimes get worried that they may be pregnant, but they say they'll simply get an abortion.... If someone feels that she is old enough to have sex, she


should be old enough to do so safely. ...I am not pro-life or anti-abortion, but I am against the reckless lifestyle it may involve. I worry that this irresponsible behavior could end up hurting people I love.” Tresssa Bell, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania “In a survey conducted by myself I found that eight out often high school students ages 15 to 18 who answered the survey have had pre-marital sex. Many are not with the same partner now. Five out of eight teenagers have had more than one partner and two out of the eight have had many partners (more than three). Still four out of eight do not use any means of birth control or protection. One out of the eight use only birth control pills and condoms and one out of the eight use only use condoms. These teenagers are not taking into consideration the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or even worse the fatal HIV virus and then aids followed by death.” Angie Gillispie, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio Here again adults are being asked for help: “Sex is very important in the production of movies. In the movie Porkies, sex seems to be the only important item about being in high school. I feel that the movie makes young people feel that if they are not having sex, then they are not important and aren't cool, but if they do have sex, then they are cool and are important.... Peer pressure in dating is very common. Guys seem to pressure girls into having sex on the first date. The guy will usually say that he fell in love, and he wants to show her how much.” Danna Hines, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “Teenagers are a prime target of alcohol advertisers and drug dealers. Advertisements portray beer drinkers as cool, popular, life-of-the-party people. It's easy to see why teenagers can get caught up in the peer pressure of wanting to fit in.” Nicole McConnell, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “Friends have a very important role in sex. When you're around them, most of them will talk about having sex. It will sometimes make you feel that you don't fit in with them because you're not involved with sexual activities.” Danna Hines, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “Teens get this false impression that sex is something everyone is doing and that it's great. Many of the movies that have sex in them never show the characters using birth control. In fact they sometimes have multiple partners and, of course, they never end up pregnant, unless it is in the storyline.” Dawn Eddy, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin “If you look through a magazine or watch television you see teens having sex and it is no big deal. They should be showing that if teens are going to have sex then they should use protection, but they just avoid the issue all together.” Tracy Poknifke, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin


Sasha is absolutely eloquent: “Instead of the calm commercials about how sex is for someone you love, I think they need to be more to the point. Teenagers who are having sex with lots of partners are not in it for the love part, so why not grab their attention by speaking the reality; sex is dangerous. Start showing commercials and even have some on the radio that talk to real AIDS patients. Show the result of some wasted futures and show that it does happen to all people, no matter [their] race, color, or [wealth]. ...My little sister, 14, a freshman in the same school, has friends who have already lost their virginity and had no idea of how to be protected. If you get the information out early, on the results and precautions, a great lot of people wouldn't have to face such terrible decisions.” Sasha Mshar, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington Jeanne and JoEllyn expand the appeal—and the reasons: “Most people feel teens know about sex. I don't feel this is the case. I feel abstinence should be taught by the school. Parents should talk about safe sex to their children. I feel there should be condom ads and commercials. Some people feel this is encouraging sex. I don't. I feel this is promoting safe sex. This would solve many problems about the way teenagers feel about sex. It would also put an end to the problem of saying 'I didn't know' or 'I wasn't taught'.” Jeanne Johnke, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota “A lot of kids are also afraid to go into a store and buy them [condoms]: getting them at school is much more reassuring to them.... I wish the generations before would understand a little better. Teenagers are going to do what they want. They just need the guidance to do it right. A lot of teenagers have a problem talking to their parents about the responsibility of having sex, and in some cases, parents don't care. This sense of not having anyone to turn to is sometimes what drives teenagers to have 'irresponsible' sex.” JoEllyn Cordes, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois Kimberly gives us a ray of hope: “Studies have also shown that teen-agers get smarter as they get older. The proportion of females that report using oral contraceptives increased from twenty-five percent at age fifteen to fifty-one percent at age nineteen. Another thing to credit teenagers is that even though they are having sex, they are not doing it all that often. While 44.9 percent of women ages 15-19 are sexually experienced, only twenty-eight percent have had sex in the past month, and only fifteen percent have been consistently active during the past twelve months. A 1987 survey of young women obtaining abortions indicates forty percent were using a birth control method during the month conception occurred. This detects a fault not in the product, but in the knowledge of the user of the product. This is where education must play a large role so that those that want to protect themselves, can.” Kimberly Redd, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas Kimberly's statistics should increase our resolve to help teen age girls reach the ripe old age of nineteen without unwittingly becoming mothers. Unfortunately the excerpts that follow show that teen pregnancy is increasing:


“Take the example of Crystal Cagle. Crystal's first and second daughters were born when she was 13 and 15, respectively. Did Crystal need free condoms, or someone to tell her that abstinence is nothing to be ashamed of? I think not. What Crystal, and other pregnant girls like her need is for someone, anyone, to care for them in some way. If the reader can remember the personalities of even a few pregnant girls they have known, they ought to realize how most of those girls came to be that way. All too often adolescent girls who engage in sex have not been overcome by lust or hormones; the physical gratification of sex is not their motivation...Abstinence cannot make a forsaken girl feel loved and condoms cannot protect her from the emotional pain of a bad sexual experience, yet these are often the only solutions offered to adolescents. It seems obvious to me from the little attention devoted to helping these girls that, were they not becoming pregnant, our society would probably pay them very little attention... In my opinion there is only one way to prevent teen pregnancy: our nation must give hope to the children who are our hope, so that they believe the future holds something of more worth than the fleeting comfort of sex. For Americans, who often prefer their social problems to be handled by the government, this will be a daunting task. Nevertheless, this problem is best handled by parents and teachers and even other teenagers, not by bureaucracy.” Jason Dawdy, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “I use to know a girl at my old high school in California before I moved to Missouri, and she had a little girl when she was sixteen years old. She use to tell me that she was happy to have her child but it was a very hard responsibility. She said it was real hard to get by in life because her parents kicked her out. She was real sad and upset because she had to raise the child herself because the father left and didn't want anything to do with her or the baby. She said most of the time she didn't ask for anyone's help. She would tell me that she wanted to give her baby up for adoption because she couldn't handle it. She would tell me that she wished she had somebody by her side to help her out. At the end of the year I never saw the girl again because she had another baby and she dropped out of school for the time being. I guess she didn't learn her lesson from her first mistake.” Richard Garrett, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “About a year ago someone very close to me got pregnant; she was my cousin and she was only fifteen. She was always a very shy person and no one ever thought she would think about being sexually active. No one ever talked to her about using protection. She started going out with an older guy and sneaking out at night to go be with him. When she became pregnant her dad made her get an abortion. When her boyfriend found out he moved and she hasn't seen him since the night she told him that she was pregnant. The abortion was against her will. Her dad kicked her out and now she lives with her grandmother. I can't imagine how she must feel; her boyfriend left her, she wanted a baby but her dad wouldn't let her, and then she was rejected by most of her family.” Michelle Hathaway, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington “I read in Newsweek magazine 'Ða young black girl living in the slums decided to have a baby just to express herself.' Did she really understand how hard the rest of her life is going to be? Not only will she be looking out for herself, but for the life of her baby.” Alyssa Daigle, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


We believe Melanie (below) is being realistic when she says: “Abortion should be legal because everyone who wants one is going to get one no matter what would happen to their body or even if it would cost them their lives. So with it legal they can get the proper care they need. I don't believe in abortion myself, but I can't make people do what I believe. I could have made that choice with my baby but I decided to take responsibility for myself and my actions and now I have a beautiful baby boy.” Melanie Grassi, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota Caressa brings up another problem: “Currently, Kansas has one of the nation's most liberal laws. It requires only that a woman receive the consent of a doctor, and have the abortion in a medical facility. A bad point is that the law forces teens to tell their parents. This causes bad results for those who cannot tell their parents. One example of this is Rebecca Bell. Rebecca Bell died at age 17 after she got an abortion-related infection. She couldn't get a legal abortion in Indiana without her parents' consent, and she was afraid to tell them.” Caressa Brokar, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas Kendal offers a different observation: “A problem with our society is that abortions are so easy to get. Even though the Supreme Court case of Missouri Planned Parenthood vs. Danforth in 1976 required minors to have their parents' permission to have an abortion, many states now allow minors to get an abortion without that consent. [According to the 8/9/90 issue of Rolling Stone magazine] Thirty-five states have parental consent or parental notification laws, but only a third enforce them.... All the people that believe and support the pro-choice movement, who believe that women have the right to control their own body, should be reminded that those women could have controlled their body before they got themselves pregnant. Anyone who gets an abortion simply for the reason that a baby would get in the way of their life, are just being selfish in avoiding responsibility for their actions.” Kendal Piatt, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington

The Good Old Days
“America today is definitely not the same as when my grandparents were young. People worked hard for their money. They took responsibility for their actions, good or bad. Today's generation is taught not to take the bad with the good. [They] complain, 'It's not my fault.'... Surprisingly, it is working.” Heather C. Thomason, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma “Our values have changed from the honest, hard-working, proud people of the 1950's to the superficial, corrupt and power-hungry people most often depicted in the 1990's. We want everything and we want it now. Unfortunately, we don't care who's feet we step on in our quest to get it.” Keli Crane, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas


“In the past, family, church and school were considered a triangle for education. After the 1960s values were not even mentioned in the classroom.” Shane Morris, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “Why can't the world we live in be like the one our parents grew up in? It may not have been perfect, but I can guarantee it was better than today. The irresponsible behavior can be blamed on the breakdown of families and the media that portrays it.” Rachel Miller, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois “Television reflects society. In the 1950s we only saw the white population. Now we show how it really is out there. In the 1990's we need to show reality, which includes violence and many unwanted problems the public faces everyday. If we try to hide racism, sexism, and violence it will not solve any of these problems.” Shelly Douglas, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “In a society with role models who use drugs and gamble, a society where television shows every ill of society to anyone who will watch, will children find something to base their values upon?” Matthew C. Winkleman, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois Morality: “According to a poll conducted by this student, over a wide span of ages, it was found that the older people would not commit crimes or fraud because it was 'wrong' or 'morally incorrect'. Those of the younger generation stated that 'I would have to think about it' and 'it depends on the consequences'. This in itself illustrates the point that responsible behavior resulting from good morals has somehow declined.” Michelle R. Gannon, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio The Harry Singer Foundation (HSF) has the results of several 1994 polls of teenagers on related subjects which we would be happy to share with interested parties. The first is related to the answers to questions seven and nine in the 1993-94 Essay Contest concerning responsibility; the contest that produced the excerpts for this and two other HSF books. 7- What would you do if you found a large sum of money? What would your teacher and classmates likely say or do if you told them about your find? 9- List five likely attributes of the successful role model of the 1950s. List five likely attributes of the successful role model of the 1990s.” From the HSF workbook for social studies departments: 13- Show the process a person with moral principles might go through in deciding if he/she should rob a bank? Write down the questions that might be considered. 14Go through the same exercise with a person who has discarded moral principles. What might this person consider?


15- By secret ballot determine how many members of the class have cheated between one to five times at anything. How many have cheated more than five times? Never cheated? How many think it is ok to cheat sometimes? Write down the resulting four numbers. Now write down the kinds of things where it is ok to cheat, providing you believe there are any. In their excerpts below, Josh and Kara assure us that all is not lost in the 90's: “Jim Brinkerhoff of western Iowa, found a bag of money containing $1,500 ...and decided to return it because his conscience would not let him keep it.” Josh Johnson, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota “There was a robbery a few years back in a small town. The thief was running out of the bank, and dropped his bag of money. The money went all over the place. All of the money, which was in denominations of twenty dollar bills, was returned except for one twenty dollar bill. Just that one example proves that some people do take the responsibility of being a citizen and carry out all of the duties that go with it.” Kara Babrowski, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois The marriage contract: “Today it is a surprise to hear of a couple celebrating their twenty- fifth wedding anniversary. Fifty years ago it was a shock to hear of someone getting a divorce.” Christie Brady, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “People should realize that a ruined marriage is not only hurting the children, but our whole country in the long run.” Carissa Becker, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “As the children get older they see their parents argue and eventually divorce. Caught in the middle of World War III, the child has to listen as each parent blames the failed marriage on the other. They aren't even responsible enough to make an honest commitment to the person they married.” Heather Stearns, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “With a fifty percent divorce rate, children are forced to live with one parent, usually the mother. This means many children grow up without a father, and for boys the crucial issue is a role model.” Carmen Knuppe, New Underwood High School, New Underwood, South Dakota “The definition of family has changed. Fewer children grow up in two parent homes, while many are being raised by grandparents or other family members.” Amy Deehr, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “Many people also are no longer keeping their vows, and therefore, single-parent families are on the rise. Child-care facilities and the Head Start program are trying to take the place of one or sometimes even both the parents. The results of these changes have been mostly devastating. Ð People are going to have to start facing the problem head-on, and


come up with a reasonable solution. If it means going back to the ways of the 50's in which mom stays home and dad works, then so be it. Families may be poorer, and many women will complain, but it worked once and people were happy so why not try it again.” Kevin Brown, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas We think Kevin might like to hear about a new support group in Spokane, Washington for “today's working-at-home woman.” We extrapolate from the flyer that we received recently from Melissa, founder of the Homemakers of the 90's Club: Most homemakers today are overworked and under-valued. Although not often recognized by society, a homemaker could be described as a care- taker, nurse, housekeeper, gardener, taxi driver; psychologist, accountant, teacher, judge, jury, chef, seamstress and handyperson. Homemakers are really the foundation of the family, but once the husband and kids have left for the day, they may begin to feel alone and unimportant. At the Homemakers' Club they get to spend a little time each week with other 'professionals' in their field....At the local weekly meetings they share experiences and ideas concerning craft projects, recipes, parenting strategies, spousal relationships, gardening tips and information about issues directly affecting their profession. When most working women head off to their jobs every day, they are immediately surrounded by others who share the same work experiences and can offer them peer support. Shouldn't those who have chosen homemaking as a way to contribute, also be able to experience a network of support? “Parents have lost their power to parent. It has not always been this way. Parents once thought that it was their moral obligation to take care of, discipline, and take responsibility for their children. The community expected this of the parents. These children knew that their parents would not tolerate their behavior and they did obey them. There is no longer a connection between the family and their community such as these.” Carie Mitchell, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “First-born kids are thrown into a life where they are the main role model for their brothers and sisters and since their parents are not around enough, they must also work through any problems which may come up. There may have been a small number of kids in our parents' generation who (found themselves) in a situation much like the one I have described, but in today's society, single parents and families which have both parents working full-time are more abundant than ever before.” Benjamin E. Debiec, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania

Prioritize! Kids Are Worth It!
“The decline of morals in this world is directly related to how much time the parents spend raising their children and teaching them the difference between right and wrong.

By taking this time when children are young, you can help eliminate the chance of crime and violence later on in their lives.” Allecia Finley, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “When looking at the facts, the parents must not be doing their job because of the number of teenage pregnancies.” Melissa Grassi, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “I believe too much blame is laid on the parents. I don't think a lot of parents know what goes on in the day-to-day lives of their children. Most parents are working too long---and don't have much time for their children.” Heather Hicks, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “A mother left her child alone in a house for three months. While we still do not have all the facts, we do know that nothing can justify this behavior. When a person brings a child into this world, their responsibility does not end when it is convenient. A perfect example of responsibility in this same case is that the thirteen year old child continued to go to school every day even though no one was there to 'make her go'. How did such a responsible child get raised by such an irresponsible parent?” Megan McGraw, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “What good does the work at school accomplish if they enter the world of violence in the afternoon? What good does all the supervision in the day mean if they go to a world where there is no supervision, no parents and no structure?” Crystal Bearley, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “Most people today don't care what their teens are doing at night or who they are with and I think that should change.” Gunner Rotter, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota “The local roller rink has signs posted that say 'not responsible for accidents.' Many parents, however, drop their children off to skate for hours at a time. Some of these children are no older than four or five. Is it any wonder so many children are abducted each year? Someone needs to be responsible for these children at all times. If the roller rink is not, why aren't their parents?” Abby Ann Dunn, Knoxville High School, Knoxville, Illinois “The family unit is very important. Many values and standards begin in the home with the family. Families should learn to communicate more thoroughly so teens will not take their anger out on other teens. Parent could take enough time to be a part of the teen's activities and know more about them. This would prevent many people that are too young for many video games and song lyrics from being a part of them.” Melanie Homan, Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama Values or work ethic? “When I asked my uncle about what he thought was happening to values in the home, he


said that it all stems from society making everything easier and more convenient. He believes that we are an undisciplined society with a degenerating work ethic.” Ryan L. Moore, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “With moms working outside of the home and fathers sometimes working two jobs, parents are too busy to teach their children values and morals. They just aren't around their children enough, so the teens look to a peer group they can feel secure in. Often this group is a gang.” Jeremy Adams, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania

The Ingalls, the Waltons and the Cleavers Give Way to the Simpsons
“Responsibility is an individual concept and an individual lifestyle, one taught by the most important institution this nation will ever know—the family.” Angela Fletcher, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “Over the past three decades, families have evolved from, what I consider, the Walton Family generation. The roles of parents and children have changed as well as their attitudes and beliefs. The Waltons were a tightly knit family with a stern and sturdy father, a loving mother, five compatible children, a dinner table filled with discussion, a strong feeling of love, and the teaching of the difference between right and wrong. This is the way a family should function. Instead, we see, today, families like the Simpsons, a family loosely held together by a helpless father, a careless mother, and two mischievous children. We also see single-parent families with children having to live with the memories of divorce or with questions about their lost parent.” Nicole Peduzzi, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “Lack of communication has to be one of the biggest problems within the family.” Chris Jublin, Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho “Guilt and the need for placement of blame is a common problem in divorce situations. 'The unspoken feelings in this area are the worst kind because even though parents may feel responsible, their children might still blame themselves for what happened in their families.' For example; when I was eight years old, my parents were finally divorced. They had been separated for many years before this occurred. Because of such a long separation period, I felt that I could have done something else to keep my family together. I never knew until later that the problems in my parents' marriage were much too serious to be overcome by anything that I might have said. The unspoken truths of our family problems led to a feeling of guilt that a child should not have to experience.” Sherri Paulk, Lubbock-Cooper High School, Lubbock, Texas


Section Two
The Causes
What About the Media? “
“Little children have always followed their TV heroes. But instead of acting like the Lone Ranger or Superman, now children imitate Bart Simpson and Beevis and Butthead.” Willis Smith, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “A parent’s job to teach right from wrong is complicated sometimes by television, movies and lyrics to songs that glamorize violence.” Bridgette Hicks, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia Complicated? Maybe but the following excerpts put the responsibility for monitoring TV squarely on parents: “Chances are, if children are allowed to watch Beevis and Butthead, then they are also allowed to stay up late. Thus proving it isn’t up to a television network to prevent children from watching inappropriate programs, but rather [it is the responsibility of] parents.” Kelly Shehi, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “For example, when a five year-old boy set fire to his house, resulting in the death of his two year old sister, his mother blamed a notorious cartoon that featured characters playing with fire. Society was quick to side with this victim and denounce the show. No one seemed to question why this mother allowed her children to watch such a program or why no one was supervising the child.” Kristy Wanner, Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, Pennsylvania Dave referred to the same story: “People like this woman [the mother above] are the reason that America is on the decline. What she should have done was put the blame on herself. She was responsible for the child. He was a young boy…. ‘The average child has watched 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school.’ These numbers should not be blamed on the television set, but on the parents. They should control what their children watch.” Dave Svach, New Providence High School, New Providence, New Jersey “Many families think it is the responsibility of the TV networks to assure parents that kids don’t see things on TV that they shouldn’t. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. Parents are the owner of their homes. They can get up and turn off the TV anytime.” Jessica Hines, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


Jessica may think it’s dumb but according to some reports, television executives have gotten the message and are curbing the amount of violence displayed on TV screens. An FBI-University of Pennsylvania study released in 1993 shows real violent crimes are increasing while TV violence is decreasing. In 1991, 5.1 violent scenes could be attributed to each hour or prime time TV viewing. That figure dropped to 2.9 violent scenes per hour in 1992. Violent crimes per hour have increased at a nearly steady pace over the past decade, more than doubling from less than a hundred to well over two hundred per hour. “Parents who feel their children are being influenced should become more vocal in what their children watch. Parents should also watch TV with their children instead of using TV as a babysitter. This would give the child a sense of support if they viewed something they felt to be frightening.” Nicole Lien, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “By expecting television stations and the government to control what their children see, they [parents] are shirking their responsibility. [They should regulate] their children’s viewing habits.” Ben Beneski, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “It is the parents’ duty to monitor what their children watch, not the presidents of the television stations.” Jason Streit, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas In the excerpts below, students suggest that the media could voluntarily choose to become a constructive rather than a destructive social force; it’s their call: “In solving the problem of guns, violence and youth, I think we need to get the TV to stop sending the wrong message; that violence is all right and you can get away with it. Our children see violence all their lives on TV and learn to deal with it as an everyday obstacle. We need to give them a different picture; a more positive one.” Chris Evers, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Have you ever been scared to watch the news because of all the negative and depressing things happening? I’m aware that destitution and devastation are always the top stories of the night. If it isn’t that some girl got nabbed from her house while her mother was there, it’s a psycho who takes out Nancy Kerrigan, a world class figure skater. And the scariest part is thinking about how this could have been prevented. But some things cannot be prevented. I don’t care how careful someone is, we are all potential victims. You cannot be a paranoid schizophrenic because you’ll kill yourself worrying.” Lisa Burgess, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “Each day we hear the tales of people being killed, banks being robbed and drugs being found. But somehow we never hear about the great things that are done…. The media has a direct influence on our thought, actions and feelings…. Earlier this fall an elderly couple was attacked and beaten to death by a burglar. One newspaper, The Demopolis Times, recently selected this incident as its ‘Top News Story of ‘93’. To me this is


ludicrous. Could it have been that the Times did not realize that the family of this couple had been through enough pain already without the grief of the death of two loved ones being thrown in their faces again? Or maybe it was that they didn’t care. Either way, someone should have the sensitivity to understand that coverage of a news story once is adequate.” Beth Swanzy, Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama Some students believe that journalism has been inundated by entertainment values: “The media must realize the effect caused by their portraying a vicious criminal as a victim…. It is awful to conceive how one would feel to see the man who murdered one’s child receive the sympathy of millions on a news program. Survivors of serial killer Ted Bundy…had to hear that Bundy was not a bad man, but he was a victim of pornography. Someone has to pay when a figure with a lack of character is put in a position of power.” Robin Simons, Hereford High School, Hereford, Texas “Newsweek published a chart comparing children’s television shows to prime time television shows. It showed that there was thirty-two percent more characters involved in violence in the children’s shows than on prime time. What message does this send to the children of today? Does this mean that we want to make our children into the cold blooded killers we see on television?” Michael Kibbee, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “The majority of movies have actors smoking even if it has nothing to do with the role. Teens look up to these famous people and want to be like them.” Christy Yarnell, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “Society needs to stop rewarding violence with all the media coverage.” Jason Norris, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas But society doesn’t dictate media coverage apart from market pressures. The free press is an American hallmark. If we believe market forces work, perhaps we should be addressing our concerns to the directors of these private enterprises, not to government officials. “Beavis and Butthead is not the only show illustrating a standard of low values. Fox’s Married With Children, Nickelodeon’s The Ren and Stimpy Show and the highly rated Fox cartoon The Simpsons possess little or no redeemable value. They idolize crudeness, stupidity and the loser syndrome.” Nickie Ballard, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “Nowadays it seems like church, golf and home decorating shows are the only programs shown on television that people don’t complain about being too violent. Even wildlife shows present graphic footage of disturbing animal survival.” Eric Cox, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma


“I think that we have to cut down on peer pressure, the dares and sex and violence in movies…. We won’t be able to stop all crimes but maybe if we get rid of some of these outside influences we can cut the crime rate.” Gary Reigel, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “Many parents no longer have time for monitoring their child’s television preferences. The times of good wholesome family television have disappeared.” Drew Watters, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee Drew’s comment (above) is reminiscent of our earlier discussion in section one about the need for parents to prioritize. “Teens are exposed to about five hours of TV daily which usually results in them seeing about 14,000 sexual encounters a year.” Chris Sanchez, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “The daytime television programs show people having children out of wedlock. Evening shows have people having affairs and having children from their affairs…. Our community has been affected by these actions.” Laura Engbrecht, Marion High School, Marion , South Dakota Some students suggest children can’t tell the difference between make believe and real life: “But in a time of televised docudramas and simulations the difference between TV and real events is more and more blurred.” Jeremy Hall, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “Recently a school board in the state of Indiana had to issue an advisory to the school children that there is no such thing as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because the children had been crawling down storm drains in search of the green amphibians.” Drew Watters, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee Others disagree: “[Young people] should be responsible enough to know the difference between a movie and real life.” Trisha Rachel, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas Speaking of movies: “The most unfortunate reason for joining a gang has been the recent glorification of gangs on television and by the movie industry. Movies like Colors and New Jack City, are examples of this trend. How can you tell a child that being a gang member is bad and the wrong way to go…while…the child sees gang members from local gangs being hired by a movie studio and being paid actor’s wages to glorify violence?” Kim Nordick, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “In the newly released movie The Program, a group of football players prove their manhood by lying in the middle of an interstate highway. This scene led to the death of


one teen and injury to several others…when they tried to imitate the scene in their hometown. Again the question arises—do you blame Warner Brothers and cause them to lose millions because a few teenagers aren’t playing with a full deck? It is definitely a difficult decision.” Steve Yeoman, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Paul in Wisconsin tackled the same situation and gives evidence to show that movies aren’t necessarily a legitimate scapegoat: “People who are for censorship may then bring up the teenager who was killed while lying in the middle of a road after he saw actors do the same thing in the movie The Program. They probably don’t realize that he, like many kids who have been supposedly influenced by the media had done the same thing many times before the movie came out.” Paul Messling III, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin Some blame 1990's music: “Many states have gangs popping up in their larger cities, which is mainly due to the glorification of being in a gang. Rappers like Eazy-E and Flavor-flav are glorifying violence... This is a problem that every state in the United States should worry about because gang violence is rapidly spreading.” Jason Tenhonen, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Rap stars who act as role models for many teens think its okay to kill people.” Todd Gordon, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California “(Athlete) Charles Barkley, with flagrant language and a rude attitude, has worked his way into homes as a model for kids. Convicted rapper Snoop Doggy Dog's record has become one of the top albums in the nation. Other rappers like Flavor Flav, Tupac Amaru Shakur, and Ice T have invaded our youth's minds, sending them messages of death, sex and violence.” Jeremy Hoffpauir, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma Others don't see it that way: “Some record studios are banning rap music from their stations because they think it causes the younger generations to be more aggressive. When rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg was asked if his music was too violent for kids he said: 'Whether I make the record or not, someone is being shot right now in gang violence. Are you going to blame me, because I make a record about it?' Another question asked, 'Does rap music cause violence?' Snoop Doggy Dogg commented with: 'That's a lie. Before rap came out there was violence; when I was nine years old, one of my home boys got shot on some gang violence, and wasn't no rap music being played then. So you tell me the music we make now made him die?’” Mario Walker, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “Communities need to organize activities.” Keilani Williams, New Underwood High School, New Underwood, South Dakota


Notice how the blame has shifted from the media, to parents, to kids themselves and right on to the community. Sara is tired of 'passing-the-buck': “With all the whining and blaming going on all over the television and newspapers, the amount of difficulty in finding someone deserving of praise bows only to the almost impossible task of finding someone taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.” Sara Heberling, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

The Injustice System
Students think the court system often sends the wrong message: “Juvenile offenders know they are going to get off easy so there are no restrictions on them. If we would start treating them like the criminals they are and give them the punishment they deserve the juvenile and gang problem would begin to decrease.” Jamie Sue Bellis, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “The average prisoner serves only forty-one percent of his/her sentence. For example, the standard sentence for robbery is about 8.6 years and almost twenty-two for murder. The average for these crimes stays in jail for about sixteen months. For each crime committed, the offender stands a 1-in-20 chance of serving time.” Kara Krauskopf, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “When people go to court for crimes they committed and are acquitted, it is sending a message to Americans that they can commit a crime and get out of it fairly easily. We should not be surprised about the rising crime rates!” Katie Wettstein, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “When a kid goes to jail or a juvenile center for the first time with a knowledge of only the one crime he has committed, he comes back into the world later with knowledge of how to do other crimes as well because he has talked with more experienced offenders” Brian Claybrook, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Violence is devastating the young people of this country, much like polio devastated children forty years ago... They also need stiffer penalties for offenders because to some young people jail is like a sleepover camp where most of their friends are also.” Beth Civitarese, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania Police cannot do their job when everyone is afraid of testifying: “Eduardo Samanigo, fourteen years of age, was shot and killed after he testified against gang members. The police and prosecutors were not responsible enough to keep him under protection, even though over and over again his parents were promised that nothing would happen to him. Now his parents are suing for fifteen million dollars.” Ryan Kosecki, South Kent High School, South Kent, Connecticut Many students agreed with Beth (above) that courts have been too lenient with offenders: “Billy L was already due in court for armed robbery when he, along with two teenage


friends, came upon a homeless woman in New York City Central Park. On the spur of the moment, they beat her with a pipe and repeatedly raped her. At the time Billy was twelve years old. Upon apprehending the youths, police found evidence leading them to believe that a month earlier, Billy had murdered a woman in a similar rape and beating. At a hearing in New York's family court, he received the maximum penalty a twelve year old could get—eighteen months at an up-state boys' camp.” Matt Raiha, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Michael Reese was convicted of rape four times and after each time he was convicted, he would always get the lesser charge or parole and would later be set free. What kind of message is this sending to these criminals?” Jenni Williams, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “Sometimes the courts let the criminals off so easy that they end up better off than they were before they were arrested. For example, a jury decided that Michael Hayes was insane when he killed four people in a barrage of rifle fire in 1989. Since then, he has been making $500 a month in federal disability benefits. Hayes has spent this money on TVs and VCRs for his room at a state mental hospital in Raleigh, two leather jackets worth more than $300 apiece, some forty knit shirts, and a secondhand motorcycle that he uses to cruise around the grounds. 'He's had more disposable income than he's ever had in his life.' said R.B. Nicholson, whose twenty-four-year old son was killed in the shootings.... The courts are no longer worried about putting the bad guys in jail; they are more concerned about making sure everyone has the right to a fair trial. Once a person is found guilty of breaking the law, then that person's rights should be limited...When will our country realize this crime that is taking place? By crime, I mean the criminals that are being paid millions of dollars from the pockets of taxpayers and the criminals that go free after breaking the law. It is us, the hardworking taxpayers that really suffer and until we all realize this and start to take action we will continue to suffer.” Jennifer Hodges, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas Students are concerned with what they perceive as a lack of justice for the victims of crime: “In Woodbury, New Jersey, a victim of a drunk driving accident survived her coma but suffered from severe brain damage. She underwent painful rehabilitation, which involved learning to walk, to read and even to be toilet trained again. Later her mother attended the sentencing of the drunk driver. She was outraged as the judge asked the culprit if he was remorseful. When the drunk driver shrugged his shoulders and whispered an apology, the judge sentenced him to a mere three years in prison with eligibility for parole. This example demonstrates that the victim suffers while the criminal takes advantage of the system. Moreover, it displays decay in the values, such as justice, that serve as the foundation [of] the United States.” Amy Asbury, Knoxville High School, Knoxville, Illinois “A woman in Chicago was shot in the face by her husband seven years ago, forcing her to suffer the last seven years of her life unable to speak and walk. The lady had to be fed


through a tube in her stomach.... [Her husband's] prison term was for two years.” Julie Thomas, Lexington High School, Lexington, Illinois Many students believe that justice is hampered by what some condemn as bureaucratic nonsense: “Another story of government failing the public is the story of two eighteen-year-olds who were caught drinking and driving. Charges were dropped, because the state Supreme Court ruled that just because it looks, smells, and tastes like beer, doesn't mean it is. Authorities have to confiscate beer and pay for chemical testing to prove that it's beer.” Mara Bergeron, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “There are some people who are getting sick of the crime and are taking a stand. Chuck Hollom, a San Francisco cab driver, stopped a mugger in May, 1989. He saw a man run up to three young Japanese women, knock one down, and steal her purse. He and another cabby chased the man, drove onto the sidewalk, and pinned him against a wall with his front bumper. Three minutes later, police arrived and the mugger, Ocie McClure, was arrested. Still, a lawsuit was pressed against the hero for using 'excessive force' against the villain. This is stupid. That only discourages people from helping others who are attacked.” Kristi St. Aubyn, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas Public policy often causes more problems than it solves: “The disturbing truth is that we have been doing all that we can to put criminals behind bars. In the past three decades, America has become the world's No. 1 jailer, and right now, there are not enough cells to go around. In the 80's, we went through a stage of harsh drug penalties and pushed the U.S. incarceration rate to 455 per 100,000 citizens, causing a $21 billion dollar tab. As the nation's inmate population grows and expands, we find ourselves having to let some criminals out before they have served all of their time.” Kara Krauskopf, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas A precedent is set: “We allow public figures to do wrong without being punished.” Nicole L. Manning, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “[A] judge by the name of Robert Schillberg released Leroy Kelley who is a convicted thief, violent offender and rapist, with a one dollar fine which the good judge paid himself. Kelley was caught stealing cigarettes from a grocery store. The judge said that the store was more at fault, for providing the cigarettes, than was poor Leroy. The officer who arrested Kelley was obviously upset and felt that the judge's reasoning was unfair. This judge is sending a message to society that if you commit a crime against those who do legal but somewhat socially unacceptable things, you do not have to pay for it.” Michael Gammon, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois Students discovered that allowing defendants to shift responsibility, encouraged violence. In the excerpts that follow, two students from Plainview High School in Ardmore Oklahoma, offer some implausible excuses for murder.


“A teenage girl appeared on a nationwide television talk show admitting to having killed one of her so called friends. She claimed, however, that she was not in her right mind at the time and it did not seem to be either a wrong or immoral act. Because of her state of mind during the murderous act, she felt that she should not be held responsible for the girl's death.” Terri Boardman, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma “A sixteen-year-old from Enid murdered his parents because he couldn't use the family car. He had cut classes the day before and had been grounded from the phone. When he was denied the use of the family car, he shot both of his parents. He claimed the reason was because they were too hard to get along with. This type of behavior will give people the idea that it is okay to kill people, if they can find an excuse that shifts the blame onto another person.” Farrah D. Gunter, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma “A man entered a local restaurant where a girl he was interested in worked. When she refused a date with him, he broke into a shooting rampage, killing six people. He, too, felt he should not be held responsible for his actions because he claims to have been under the influence of both drugs and alcohol at the time of the shooting.” Terri Boardman, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma Students see the lack of communication between parent and child as one of the causes of escalating crime in this country: “In my area, many teenagers are irresponsibly finding themselves in the county jail for minor offenses. To be released, they must have someone post a small bond. Many of these teens have called friends instead of calling their parents to come bail them out. These kids are finding ways to avoid telling their parents the truth or the whole truth about what they did wrong.” Julie Thomas, Lexington High School, Lexington, Illinois

Families 90's-Style
“The definition of family has changed. Fewer children grow up in two parent homes, while many are being raised by grandparents or other family members.” Amy Deehr, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington There is ample evidence that the breakdown of the family is a strong cause of our societal woes: “Father is leaving, mother is working, brother is in a gang, and sister is alone after school watching television until sometimes eleven o'clock. As the family falls apart, so does America.” Anne Turcea, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “The responsibility of a parent is the greatest ever... In order to learn we must have guidance and this guidance must come from the home, not a stranger... parents should learn to become parents again and not just someone to place a roof over the children's

heads.” Trisha Rachel, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “If the parents cannot take responsibility for their children they will never be able to teach the children to take responsibility for themselves.” Carie Mitchell, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “An excellent example of the collapse of the family system is the fact that today, parents spend forty percent less time with their children than their parents spent with them.” John Espinosa, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas “Because the parents are less at home, values aren't being taught.” Nicci Bachand, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas Many students stressed the importance of morals and values: “Here in Tampa, Florida, vandalism, auto theft, drug use, and underage drinking are just some of the shameless acts teens commit. These teenagers are often bored late in the night and have nothing better to do.... More often than not, these kids have no family background to establish morals and values.... Morals and values are instilled at home, and how a child acts outside the home reflects his/her learning and understanding of parental teachings.” Chris Newcomb, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “The irresponsible behavior of today's youths can be associated with a lack of moral education in our school systems. From ancient Greece to cold -war America, educators have felt comfortable instilling the differences between right and wrong. Yet the Social Revolution of the 60's eliminated schools from the triangle that once existed between family, church, and school. It was not until the late 80's that people began to realize the severe affects that valueless people have on society.” Patrick F. Welch, South Kent High School, South Kent Connecticut “As more and more people think only of themselves we see the homeless population grow, crime rates accelerate, suicide rates jump, and education scores decline.” Amy Deehr, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “I don't think that any of these problems of violent crime can be solved until we teach our children moral values and ethics.” Brian Skouby, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “Crime is a social problem and education, or re-education, will help solve the problem. We need to teach our children respect. Respect for themselves, respect for others, and respect for human life. We need to rebuild family values in our homes. Our children must soon realize that they need to be responsible and talk out their problems, instead of shooting them out. They will eventually kill every youth in this great nation of ours if they don't. It's genocide.” Patrick A. Sampson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas


In the following excerpt Daisy makes an interesting point: “Children do not strive to pay back society by stealing, killing, or hurting others. Children are basically good until society shows them how to steal, kill, or hurt.” Daisy Clam, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois But nothing is as simple as it might appear on the surface. As Jennifer's excerpt (below) suggests, outcomes sometimes depend on what values are being taught in the home: “The age twenty-one says one thing to most teenagers; I can drink now without getting in trouble. Drinking goes along with adulthood and most teenagers want to be adults. Alcoholism ruins the individual physically and emotionally because of the dependency. A family can be torn apart because a person has a drinking problem. I write this with experience in my own family.... I learned how to drink when I was five-years-old.” Jennifer Ciano, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin

Tough Love
Earlier a number of students criticized the justice system for being too lenient. The excerpts that follow claim that lenient parents are a large part of society's problem. “Teens should know that they should not drink when they're not old enough. I would bet a good [number] of teens have been picked up for drinking related accidents and have been let off easy by their folks.” Gunner Rotter, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota “Too often, a student will get into trouble [with] little consequence.” Dustin Gwinn, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “These days kids are not afraid of being arrested or put in juvenile detention. They are very much aware that nothing 'serious' could happen to them.” Martha Yeahquo, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas “The solution to our nation's problems in the line of responsibility begins at home. The United States is a place of freedom, but many parents are giving their children too much money and freedom. Many of these children do not learn about responsibility because they never had to really work for what they ... received; their parents just gave it to them. When they are forced, or decide to go into the real world, they discover how difficult life really is. This is where many of today's problems begin. They will do or say anything to get something for nothing, just like they have been used to getting. These people soon become so desperate that they listen to drug-pushers [talk] about easy jobs that aren't what they seem to be. The truth is that there is no easy way out. Life isn't fair so get used to it and learn some responsibility.” Tim Pace, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “Parents need to stop neglecting their children and start paying attention to what their children are doing, not only at night, but also during the day. They need to make their


children go to school and make them do their school work.” Beth Civitarese, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania “Responsibility and good moral values have to be taught at a young age. Parents have to enforce and set rules for their children. Kids today don't know [what's] right and [what's] wrong. [Many] parents haven't enforced rules at home, leaving kids to do what they want. This makes it harder for schools to teach responsibility and moral values. Kids bring everything taught at home to school with them. They feel that if they can do it at home, it's okay to do it at school.” Shaine Jenkins, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “Some will blame the system while others blame the parents. I think it is a combination of both. Neither of the two put any pressure on kids to have high moral standards and to do what is right. All the messages sent to kids today are negative, such as on TV, radio, or movies. Society is not worried about high standards, only what sells, which of course are only the bad things....Today there seems to be no discipline, and what [little] of it there is does not seem to get the message across. In many situations when kids are corrected, they just rebel and get even worse. ...Parents and society should stop and think about what they are doing and how it may be influencing young people. We should all care and encourage everyone to do what is right.” Karen Lynn Cox, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee Tough, but consistent: “Charles King, director of a Phoenix school, which provides therapy and schooling for thirty problem kids, thinks that inconsistency of family treatment is more damaging to children than unrelieved harshness. He explains if a parent strikes their kid, then lavishes gifts on him, the child has no way of telling right from wrong.” Jodie Lewis, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas

Students tell us that many families simply don't care about their children: “Children are filling the empty places left by absent parents, or other family members, with gangs. The children involved in gangs believe that fellow gang members care for them the way their families should but do not.” Jamie Sue Bellis, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “In a child's life there are two major pillars: family and school. This is where the kid finds his heroes and company. When one of these are missing something substitutes: Gangs. What the kids don't get from their major pillars they get on the street. The streets don't teach you how to survive in society and certainly not how to do well with the workforce.” Ashley Wilson, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “We have given up the responsibility of raising our children ... Because of this, children have turned to gangs for what the family should be giving them -- acceptance and love.

[The gang's] love and acceptance often has a price and the price is usually being active in criminal activities.” Paula Rogers Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama “More and more kids are becoming involved with gangs and the ages are getting younger and younger. Kids need to belong to something or someone. ...Part of the problem is in the home, where the kids are missing something that they had before…. When the change at home takes place we can expect the change in the gangs to start.” Richard Espinoza, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “Many gang members express a desire to distance themselves from inept or uncaring home environments which lack even the most rudimentary family structure.” Jodie Lewis, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “One group in our society who are not showing responsibility are the parents of gang members, drug users, alcoholics, and juvenile delinquents. Many of these children would not have these problems if their parents had taken the time and energy to be a part of their children's activities and taught responsibility while the children were young enough for the values to sink in. When these children were born they became the responsibility of their parents, not the responsibility of the courts, juvenile homes, or the streets.” Jeff Garner, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “Kids that have a low self-confidence level, and lack love and attention at home, are the gang members that we see today.” Melanie Malone, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “The youth of America have begun looking towards gangs as ways to make drug money and to be part of a fellowship that believes it doesn't matter who is killed or hurt, only that their gang stays alive. ...In this case, responsibility lies in 'family values' and moral standards which teach children what is right and wrong. It is up to the parents.” Brenner Farr, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “To have comrades is a reason for [belonging to] gangs. Just to keep from being alone, [kids] choose [other] kids in the same predicament.” Ashley Wilson, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “We need to get one parent back into the home to be there when the children return home from school. Kids need a sense of security. They have turned to gangs to try to fill this void.” Sherrie Slagel, Prairie School, New Raymer, Colorado

One Parent Homes
We were surprised at the number of times students insisted that fatherless homes were the source of a variety of problems: “Fatherless children are many times more likely to commit crime than children with a


male figure in their lives. Fatherless children are also more likely to abandon their [own] children when the time comes for them to take responsibility. I can personally attest to this fact, for one of my best friends who is fatherless, has a brother who just left jail and is on parole. He also has a pregnant girlfriend.” Richard Cioll, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “Studies of young criminals have found that more than seventy percent of all juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes. Kids without fathers are forced to find their own ways of doing things. They come up with their own ideas, from friends and from gangs. Nobody is showing them what to do except to be drunk, deal drugs or go to jail. They have no [constructive] role models.” Ryan Hauer, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “It is estimated that in New York alone there are 1,500 fatherless children between the ages of one and five. This simple fact shows how many men are causing pregnancies and then just allowing their pregnant girl-friends and their unborn babies to fend for themselves.” Thomas R. Velasco, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon Maybe it's time to stop pretending a mother's marital status has no bearing on the fate of her child. Studies have shown that marital status of the parents plays a heavy part in determining infant mortality, childhood poverty, juvenile crime, drug addiction and whether the child does well in school. “Gaylynn L. Becker, the assistant director of counseling and testing for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, said that students from his state performed better than the rest of the nation because the majority of them came from stable homes.” Hess Wright Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama A study conducted by the Children's Defense Fund showed that a parent is more likely to fall behind on child support than on car payments. The delinquency rate for used car loans was less than 3 percent in 1992 whereas the delinquency rate for child support was 49 percent in 1990. “Eighty percent of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from broken homes. Three out of four teenagers who commit suicide come from broken homes. Girls from intact low-income families scored higher than boys from broken high-income homes on cognitive tests. In a government survey of 17,000 children, children living apart from a biological parent were found to be 20 percent to 40 percent more vulnerable to sickness. Twenty to thirty percent were found to be more likely to be injured in an accident.” Karl Werner, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “Experts in crime, drug abuse, depression, and school failure blame the family problems on the disappearance of fathers from the American family. David Blankenhorn comments that the trend of fatherlessness is the most socially consequential family trend of our generation. Studies of young criminals have found that more than seventy percent of all


juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes. Children reared in broken homes are almost twice as likely as those in two-parent families to drop out of high school.” Jennifer Stahl, James Valley Christian, Huron, South Dakota “Broken homes may teach a child to shift responsibility from himself. Some examples include: blaming a teacher for a bad grade, giving the excuse 'Well he made me do it' when in trouble, or even saying that the hungry dog was the reason for lost homework. If children learn early to shift the responsibility from themselves to avoid trouble, they will carry that habit with them throughout their life, eventually leading to a 'I only care about myself' and 'It's not my fault' society.” Kimberly Knutson, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Working mothers were frequently cited as the inadvertent cause of crime. Between 1985-1990 the percentage of working women 20-24 years-old dropped, stabilized and dropped ever so slightly again in 1993. The following reasons are often suggested: (1) better marriage prospects, (2) women had already saturated the workforce, (3) lower interest rates meant lower mortgage and car payments, allowing couples to live on one income and (4) telecommuting allowed women to work from the home. Cooking, cleaning, organizing and holding down the home front constitutes a career which is more appreciated today than ever before. Women are marrying older men who can afford to let the wife stay home with the kids. These women have less economic incentive to join the work force. The Foundation's 1991 essay contest was directed to child care. Although the book of excerpts resulting from that project is out of print (pending enough requests to warrant another printing) any reader with a computer and a modem can browse or download the entire text on Singer On-line 408-626-1700. The next 12 excerpts concerning “stay-at-home-moms” are from the 1991 HSF book, What, If Any, Should Government's Role Be Regarding Child Care In The United States?. Most of the writers are currently in college. They are identified here only by state: Pro: “If only we could get the mothers or fathers to stay home and raise their kids, instead of strangers, our society of tomorrow might be a better place to live.” Montana “A parent who chooses to stay home and not pursue a career outside of the home is spending valuable time with the child. The parent keeps a family atmosphere in the home and hopefully will bring the value of a family back to society.” Michigan “Mothers who do not go out to work, provide better and more fulfilling lives for their children. There are always disadvantages to every situation, but the advantages of mothers who stay at home to raise their children, are much greater and more important.” Ohio “Many tests run on children from child-cares and stay-home situations lean firmly toward staying home. Studies show that by five or six months old, most of a baby's physical and


mental abilities are acquired and the infants who bond solely with a mother or father have more well adjusted children.” Washington “Recent studies have indicated that even children in quality child-care situations may not do as well academically or socially as generations before who spent their younger years home with mom.” Minnesota “When the question is asked, What is really best for the children?, one has to say that there is just no substitute for parents. No day-care center or run-of-the-mill social worker can teach a child about life with the love and devotion of a mother and father. Though it may seem unfair to the woman who wishes to remain in the working force, a strong argument is given that states that the mother's round-the-clock presence is crucial to normal development of a child.” New York Con: “Author, Betty Friedan, insists that children blossom in child care. Day-cares will ultimately become beneficial to society by better preparing children for real life situations.” Michigan “Early reports on children who spent time in day-care were optimistic that those children were more independent and made friends easier.” California “Mothers who are forced to stay at home with their children, as opposed to getting a job, sometimes don't feel very good about themselves. They develop a low sense of selfworth. They feel that their life is pointless and that they are not accomplishing anything for themselves. When the mother has a poor attitude, the child is bound to develop a poor attitude.” Kansas “A working mother also shows the child that mom is trying to do her part by working. She is helping out with the financial status of the family. It also shows the child you have to work for what you get. The child may also realize that some sacrifices have to be made to achieve goals. Finally the children may realize the parents are doing it for them.” Iowa “Clearly children who have working mothers who care for them, will develop into better people in the long run. The children will learn more, discover more, be more independent and be able to do things on their own. In a sense the children will be more prepared for what society has in store for them.” Massachusetts “[Many children questioned by Parents magazine] said that if their mothers did not work, it would not be as much fun because they would not have as much money to get new clothes or take vacations. A few children said that even if their mother did stay at home, they would not see them that much anyway. Because of their activities such as soccer, little league, piano practice, church activities, and basketball practice, they would get home about the same time their mothers would from work. Other children said having a working mother gave them more space; time to be alone. When asked if they felt they


would work outside the home when they grew up, most of the children said they would. They stated they 'would not feel useful simply sitting around the house.' “South Dakota In the Foundation's 1991 book, Clinton Popetz's essay was reproduced in its entirety. It began with a familiar quotation from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1860): Between dark and the daylight, When night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour. The excerpt that follows is taken from the last paragraph in Clinton's paper: “On the one hand, the current array of programs leaves federal funds lost in bureaucracy, and little trickles down to the individual families. However, as we unify the child care effort we must be cautious not to forget who this effort is directed to and thus we must not create an excess of regulations that would leave the family relationship stretched any further than it already is. We cannot hope to see progress in the child care system until our priorities are newly designated and the current efforts redirected. This implies setting aside ideology in congressional sessions in return for a little concern for the future of this nation.... Surely the United States can pause for the children's hour.” Clinton Popetz, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois And now back to our 1994 excerpts: “Women have children, but instead of sticking by them in their most impressionable ages, they shove them off to nurseries and head back to work, leaving it up to strangers to instill in their kids the stranger's values.” Heather Stearns, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “There is no easy solution to the growing violence threat in our nation. Rather, it is a complicated side-effect of American's changing lifestyle....Most '90's teens, many of whom come from split families, find it easy to shun religion and family values. Those who do not come from a broken home often have two parents who work at least part time. With their parents are at work, teens find it easier to 'get into trouble'. They lack the strong family ties common during their parents' youth, and they have nowhere to turn for guidance or moral direction.” Paul Sweat, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas There were students in 1994 that vehemently disagreed, but unfortunately failed to counter with facts: “There are many statistics that try to prove one way or another that women who work out of the home do not teach their children [properly] but I think this theory is all wrong.” Jessica Hines, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota We often encountered nostalgia for the often imaginary good 'ol days: “Many people also are no longer keeping their vows, and therefore, single-parent families are on the rise. Child-care facilities and the Head Start program are trying to take the place of one or sometimes even both the parents. The results of these changes have been


mostly devastating. Ð People are going to have to start facing the problem head-on, and come up with a reasonable solution. If it means going back to the ways of the 50's in which mom stays home and dad works, then so be it. Families may be poorer, and many women will complain, but it worked once and people were happy so why not try it again.” Kevin Brown, Concordia High, Concordia, Kansas High School, Concordia, Kansas

Teen Pregnancy
“The basis of our destruction is very simply put, the lack of a family unit. Americans have somehow lost sight of how important the family is.... In 1970 only 190.4 girls out of 1,000 between the ages of 15-19 became pregnant. In 1989 [that statistic rose to] 337.3 girls. It is true that these statistics can be affected by many circumstances, but the fact that teen pregnancies increased so greatly with the increase of divorce cannot be overlooked or ignored.” Blythe Sullivan Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama Teen pregnancy is the scapegoat for almost everything that was not already laid at the doorstep of the broken family: “In the mid-1980s, Leon Dash, a black reporter for the Washington Post, spent more than a year living in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods in an effort to understand why unmarried teens had babies. Initially, he believed that the big problems were ignorance about birth control and boys victimizing girls. After exhaustive interviews, he changed his mind. Teenagers knew about birth control. Girls were often 'equal-or-greater -actors than their boyfriends in exploring sexuality and becoming pregnant,' he wrote later in When Children Want Children. Having a baby is a tangible achievement in an otherwise dreary and empty future for many girls in poverty-stricken areas. It is one way of announcing I am a woman. For many boys...the birth of a baby represents an identical rite of passage. The boy is saying: I am a man.'“ Colleen Hofer, James Valley Christian, Huron, South Dakota We have just reviewed suggestions that violence can be traced to one-parent families and that one-parent families can be traced to teen-pregnancy. Let's turn to the following excerpts to explore some of the causes of teen- pregnancy: “I think that adults often thought there was no use telling kids about abstinence because we were going to have sex anyway. [This] led to children acting the way they do. It's easier to do something you're expected to do than try to be different.” Kendal Piatt, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “The rate of teenage pregnancy is rapidly increasing, and yet society says that giving out contraceptives in schools is irresponsible.” Jo Ellyn Cordes, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “I have heard an argument pertaining to this subject that says if there are condom machine in school bathrooms then it will be just like saying that it is all right for kids to have sex. This is simply not true. If a condom machine will influence someone enough to


think about having sex, then they must not be very sure about their decision not to do so. The protection that is needed should be there for kids when they need it so that we can help stop the spread of disease and unwanted pregnancies. It's up to [us] the younger generation, because soon we will be the older generation and will need to teach younger people from our experiences.” Michelle Hathaway, LaCrosse High School LaCrosse, Washington “At Benicia High School in California, senior class officers handed out party favors which consisted of a gift-wrapped condom, a planned Parenthood pamphlet advocating abstinence, and a piece of candy. The administrators confiscated the 375 condoms, saying that a school sponsored event was no place for sex education. This action by the administration probably led to more teenagers getting pregnant, or even worse, contracting the HIV virus.... Condoms should be allowed to be distributed within schools. Since teens are going to have sex, [they] will be protected and have a better chance at the future, even though their actions are risky.” Chris Sanchez, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Distributing condoms at high schools throughout the nation would be a major accomplishment. I disagree with the argument that handing out condoms to teenagers will promote sex.” Christina Schleicher, Hanover High School, New Hampshire Sara's position (below) represents the other side: “Even though [condoms are] popular, statistics show they are not really ensuring safe sex...and often lead to the spread of disease.” Sara Knoblich, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois So far we have discussed the media, our court system, modern families and teen pregnancy and identified all of theses as contributors to our present social woes. In the excerpt that follows, Aaron covers most of these and adds some of his own: “Maybe it is poverty that causes kids to steal and sell drugs, or maybe it is that kids have too much free time on their hands that causes them to rob stores late at night or beat people up. It may even be the lack of attention by the parents that causes kids to go and vandalize buildings or cars or houses. It could even be the violent television shows that depict that using violent means is an acceptable way to solve their problems.” Aaron Bradley, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida

What Do Role Models Have To Do With Our Social Problems?
Plenty, according to the papers we received: “The problem [crime] isn't exactly the teenagers themselves, it is the role models or people they look up to.” Aaron Bradley, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida


“Role models are important in the life of a child, and if their role models do not display responsibility, what can be expected of the children?” Thomas King, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “It is becoming more common to see someone doing only as little as possible to get by. Lowered standardized test scores, teenage pregnancies, and increased juvenile crime rate are just three examples of the irresponsible behavior taking place in our nation today. Our children of today are the future of tomorrow and without the help of role models we cannot bring a brighter future to America.” Pam Courtney Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama “To Eugenia Harris, a thirteen-year-old bookworm, the high rising rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg is something of a role model....There is something different about this role model though. In November of this year he was indicted in Los Angeles Superior Court for murder...This is not Snoop Doggy Dogg's only offense. Just after graduation, he landed in jail for the first time, for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell. Many people ask why these young kids like role models like this.” Justin Johnson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “After seeing an irresponsible action, many people will repeat it. They think that it is okay since someone else is doing it. Youth are the main victims of irresponsible behavior.” Scott Knapp, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “When society does not allow someone to duck his obligations, everybody wins. People provide motivation by setting examples for everyone else. Responsibility cannot be implanted, but in today's society, it can be taught.” Joe Garza, Hereford High School, Hereford, Texas “We comment on how poorly America is being governed, but who is it that elects these people to run our nation? Individually each of us must be accountable to do our own part and stop [placing] the blame on others.” Mike Waters, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma The lack of a societal moral code causes problems which politicians are expected to solve; problems such as abandoned or abused children, crime, illiteracy, unemployment and health problems. At the end of 1993 the British launched a program called Back to Basics with the intention of uplifting the nation's moral standards. Instead it demoralized the British by highlighting the personal lives and exposing politicians as hypocrites. In the summer of 1994 a large amusement park in northern California ran an advertisement vilifying U.S. Senators. In the ad a Senator wants to change a hearing because he has a coupon to attend the amusement park. The chairman suggests the coupon be used on Saturday. The Senator explains that Saturday is the day he meets with his parole officer, and other Senators chime in, “Me too.” This ad counts on a lot of Americans agreeing that politicians are the worst kind of role model. If there is even a smidgen of truth to


this supposition, rather than assume the role of moralists, our elected officials might do better to undo government policies that encourage deviant behavior. “Our officials in Washington hold the responsibility of being a role model.” Doug Zimmerman, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas Despite Doug's assertion (above), it is unlikely that many Americans actually expect politicians to be role models. Nevertheless, several students were disturbed by the misdeeds of public officials: “The politicians are supposed to be people who will not end up in scandals and are responsible enough to stay in line while under all the pressures of the job.” John Gesick, Marion High, Marion, South Dakota “What about the Senator who, while intoxicated and entertaining an evening companion, stripped naked and swam in a public fountain?... Not only does this incident reflect badly on the person, it reflects on the entire Congress. This Senator should be more of a role model for others. He was elected to a position that supposedly should be respected. Such irresponsibility only diminishes the public's view of our nation's leaders.” Michelle R. Gannon, Rock Hill High School, Ironton, Ohio “In Oregon, Representative Mike Kopetski was found guilty of drunk driving—a charge that usually carries a mandatory one year license suspension...a judge, during sentencing, reduced the charge to reckless driving. The judge also fined him $250. Besides erasing the drunk-driving conviction the judge let him keep his license. This tells people that drunk drivers are not really guilty of alcohol abuse and that it is not such a serious crime after all. This also makes me think that if you're important the laws don't apply to you.” Troy Herlyn, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota In the excerpt that follows John not only lashes out at politicians, but he adds lawyers to the cause of our problems: “We seem to have a culture that has lost its moral base. Without this base, politicians no longer do what they think is right, only what will get them the most votes. Lawyers no longer protect the rights of individuals; they only milk innocent victims of their money in ridiculous lawsuits. You have heard the advertisements, the ones stating that no money will be charged until your case is settled or won. There is nothing to lose, so why don't you jump in with all the other people out there and take a share of the spoils. This is one of the main reasons so many Americans are so irresponsible. It stems from the replacement of solid morals with greed, laziness, and self-righteousness.” John Sander, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois As outrageous as some malpractice awards are, they only account for one percent of health care costs. The real harm comes from the ability of these judgments to drive professionals and manufacturers out of business. Even worse, judgments have been made with disdain for the truth.


Despite evidence that complications during labor and delivery are not responsible for the large majority of cases of cerebral palsy, lawyers find such litigation lucrative and obstetricians find their insurance premiums overwhelming. In 1985 a $5.1 million award was won against Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation on the strength of a single study that tentatively suggested, not proved, spermicides might have something to do with birth defects. Not long after the verdict the authors of the study discredited their own study saying it should never have been published since the reservations and qualifications written into published papers are routinely ignored. Clinical ecologists believe trace chemicals in the environment cause all kinds of maladies. In Sedalia, Missouri in 1985 two clinical ecologists claimed to discover “pervasive abnormalities” in the immune systems of every resident tested, and convinced a jury that Alcolac, a manufacturer of soap and cosmetics, was responsible. The jury awarded $6.2 million in compensatory damages and another $43 million to punish Alcolac. Tests relied on by the ecologists were developed by Schossman's research team at Harvard and Schossman discredited their use of his material. The most we can realistically expect in the way of malpractice reform is greater use of out-of-court dispute resolution, some limits on attorney fees and extended, rather than lump sum payments of jury awards. The students in their essays, considered the proliferation of lawsuits to be such a major cause of our social problems that they contributed enough material to focus an entire book on the subject. For information beyond what is given here, please refer to the Harry Singer Foundation book: Responsibility: Who Has It And Who Doesn't And What That Means To The Nation. Unfortunately, the effects of excessive tort awards are far reaching: Whooping cough was responsible for 7,500 deaths in 1934 and the vaccine, licensed in 1949 was a blessing to the world. In 1981 a British study suggested its use might account for brain damage for every 310,000 immunizations. That was all American lawyers needed to hear to launch an avalanche of cases blaming the vaccine for epilepsy and any disease they could possibly relate to the brain. The litigation threat literally eliminated one major supplier of the vaccine. More exhaustive studies showed no evidence of serious neurological complications or deaths from the vaccine. The following incident illustrates just how far the “fear of being sued” has gone. Someone called a Ford dealership and asked how many quarts of oil a 1989 Lincoln held. He was told, “We can't tell you because of liability.” The only way he could get the information was to say he was going to bring the car in for service. Many people claim lying is merely a survival technique in our modern world. Officials specifically charged with upholding the law and dispensing justice, are, and should be, held in esteem by the public. When they are shown to have feet of clay there are unfortunate consequences, as the following excerpts explain. “This is carelessness on his [county sheriff] part and being an officer of the law and drinking and driving tells a very impressionable teenage society that sometimes it's all


right.” Darrick Brown, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “A Harris County [Texas] probate judge just received a sentence of one year in federal prison for filing a false income tax return in an attempt to hide the personal use of campaign funds. If high ranking officials cannot be honest and just, if they are not willing to be responsible for their actions, why should anybody else [be responsible]?” Jill Walser, Hereford High School, Hereford, Texas “A suit was filed in Charleston, West Virginia by a State Supreme Court Justice, named Richard Neely. Mr. Neely stated he suffered severe emotional distress because his car had [received] $1,200 worth of damages. He is now seeking $43,000 in return for his emotional distress. If people in high ranking positions set this kind of example, then how are we going to improve America's irresponsibility?” Jason Cade, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “What about police officers, lawyers, judges, and politicians that get convicted of crimes? They are supposed to be the people who protect us and make the world a safer place. ... They are sending a signal to young people that it is acceptable to commit a crime.” Zachary T. King, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “Perhaps one of the most disturbing cases of government irresponsibility is that of nowformer FBI director, William Sessions. Sessions was accused of spending government money for such things as using an FBI plane to fly to California to visit his daughter, getting reimbursed for a private trip into the French countryside, and even having his bodyguards fly a load of firewood from new York to Washington.” Mara Bergeron, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “A judge in a small town received so many drunk driving tickets that he had to sell his car and buy an adult tricycle to ride home from the bar. “ Angela Nicholson, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Alcee Hastings, a federal judge, was charged but never indicted on bribery charges and later impeached by Congress. Hastings is now a U.S. Representative, and on the public payroll is his friend and former lawyer, Patricia Williams. She represented Hastings during his bribery trial and impeachment proceedings which means he owes her more than $500,000. Although Williams was disbarred in June of 1992 for mishandling client funds and other improper behavior, she makes $43,000 a year as office liaison and staff assistant in Hastings' district office. As a judge, Hastings was responsible for upholding the law, which he broke. As a State Representative, he is responsible for making laws, which he seems to find his way around. As a lawyer, Patricia Williams was responsible for upholding the ethical codes of lawyers, but she didn't, and now she makes $43,000 a year.” Michael Gammon, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois


We should all be disturbed when killers become role models: “What about [the] McDonald's Massacre? … He [the killer] said when he was in psychiatric care that his idols were Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.” Gary Reigel, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “It used to be that the only kind of trading card you could find would have a sports hero on it. No one ever thought that Horror Cards would invade on sports heroes. These cards have pictures of a criminal and his childhood background including descriptions of his crimes. One such card features Edmund Emil Kemper. It talks of such gruesome things as when, at age thirteen, he cut the family cat into pieces. [The card] goes on to describe his human victims and their [manner] of death. [There are] even star [celebrity] cards [featuring] people like Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer.” Neal Bobzin, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota Teachers, however, are natural role models. But should they emphasize character in the classroom and influence values? You will read elsewhere that teachers who in the fall of 1993 were asked a similar question by the Harry Singer Foundation, claimed that they influence students, whether they wish to or not, by example. Angie (below) sees a practical way that teachers can intentionally influence their students. It is a kind of 'tough-love' in the schools: “Our teachers teach us how to be responsible by assigning work to be finished by a certain day and if it is not completed then we know that we will have to face the consequences.” Angie Gillispie, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio We read a variety of opinions on this subject and think the excerpts of Sara, Mandy and Jessica are representative: “There are many different sets of values and beliefs. ...Unfortunately, in the past few decades, there has been a decline of [all] beliefs. American society has cultivated a feeling of apathy towards values. 'Who cares if it's right or wrong? I have the freedom to do it.' has been the attitude of many. American children are growing up in an education system where teachers are [afraid] to reflect their values in the classroom. There are parents claiming they don't want their kids taught someone else's morals. What about the values that America was founded upon? How can it be wrong to teach students values such as tolerance, service, discipline, gratitude, loyalty, honesty and respect?” Sara Peterson, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “In schools our teachers are so afraid of being accused of abusing students that they only teach the facts and they forget to teach morals and values.” Mandy Evans, Kremlin-Hillsdale High School, Kremlin, Oklahoma “Some teachers have their own values all screwed up and try to impose them on their students. If a student has grown up in a family that really didn't have a solid set of family values, he or she could grab on to the teacher's values and become someone that his or her own family does not agree with.” Jessica Hines, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


When a teacher lets students down it can be devastating: “A teacher in our local middle school…while educating people about the disease, told his students that AIDS had been spread to humans by monkeys! This claim has been proven by experts throughout the world to be totally inaccurate. If our teachers, those charged with the future of our young people, do not have the responsibility to learn about this disease, how can we expect our young people to show the responsibility to educate themselves?” Jonathan W. Sweet, DeForest High, DeForest, Wisconsin “A local high school teacher is constantly trying to win the approval of his students. He feels that in order to be accepted, he must act like them and be their best friend; consequently condoning their drug abuse. I've heard him laugh when someone talks of 'getting high' but not once have I heard him say that drugs are unhealthy, stupid, or illegal. Excuse me, but shouldn't teachers be setting good examples instead of worrying about students' opinions of them? He can be 'cool' when talking to the students without promoting their drug habits.” Jaimee Ellerman, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania Sometimes teachers get a bad rap: “A common belief held [by students] is that if the teacher does not like them, they will automatically fail. This has become a common excuse for students when they do not get the grade they feel they deserve.” Susan Harrison, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “It happens quite often that students complain to me that they failed or did poorly on a test because the teacher does not know how to teach, or that the teacher did not give the students enough time to study or prepare for the exam. I feel that grades most usually reflect the effort that was put into them by the individual, and no one is to blame for a poor grade but oneself.” Anne Purfield, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois But when a teacher lives up to a student's ideal, the power for good is greater than that wielded by anyone else in society: “How can students be responsive when they lack respect for authority? We have grown up hearing about our corrupt government so respect is lost for adults. Teachers can earn back that respect.” Ashley Wilson, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “A boy in our community died of cancer. Before he died, when he was too sick to go to school, his teacher did something exceptional. She tutored him every night and spent time with him. She gave her free time to care for a dying student.” Lindsay Mannelin, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “Greg Manley, art teacher, truly cares about his students and makes it known that he will do anything to help them. Mr. Manley has set the example for me and many other students to follow our dreams and do all that we do to the best of our ability. He has


taught us to be responsible at our work and not to be lazy.” Carrie Milam, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “Teachers have the biggest job of all to nurture, teach morals and values, keep order in the classroom, and make sure the children are learning the basic skills they will need as they grow older. What children learn in school is carried with them for the rest of their lives.” Amy Fritsch, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin However it is difficult to entice good people to become good teachers. The following excerpts discuss one of the reasons: “Even though they [teachers] get paid, they don't get paid enough for the job they do. They show great responsibility by doing their job well for very little pay.” Kevin Cade, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “Garbage men, and janitors make more money than teachers, [even though] teachers are the ones who influence our children's future.... Many people, my father [included], with growth potential for excelling in the field of teaching have been [enticed] into other [better paying] vocations.... If a system of bonuses were available to teachers...more teachers would strive for excellence instead of the mediocrity that we have today. There needs to be a redrawing of the salary system, balancing quality...with longevity.” Josh Williams, Kiona-Benton High , Benton City, Washington

A Poor to Negligible Education
Students expressed concern about illiteracy: “Even though it does not make very many headlines, illiteracy is many times the root of other problems faced today.” Louis Van Alsfine, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Dumbing-down” policies that feign equality: “A professor of education at Harvard, Charles Willie, says universities should strive for diversity--even if the school's goal of excellence is lost in the process. His arguments would justify turning away white and Asian straight-A students and instead accepting 'adequate' minority students. Willie explains that equity should be the major concern of universities rather than excellence. While these policies may be well-meaning and intended to create equal opportunities, they are not sending responsible messages. In fact, Willie is saying that 'adequate' is good enough for some, but excellence is not good enough for others, which hardly promotes equal opportunity.” Jordon Whitacre, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania Rising dropout rates: “Time magazine recently interviewed a fifty-one year-old who has been imprisoned since 1952. This convict referred to crime as a social problem, and education being the only real deterrent. He pointed out that most of the people in prisons are all truants and dropouts, failures of the education system. If you look at all the truants, you're observing


future prisoners.” Scott Shields, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “The leading cause of high school drop outs is truancy. There are more and more high and even junior high students ditching school every day. Schools are not cracking down nor are parents on these kids who are skipping school....More and more teens are failing high school because they do not attend. These kids aren't stupid, they are just lazy.” Keith Wrape, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma “Although there are many positive things being done about dropouts, we still cannot ignore the large number of teenagers not attending school. In the long run this small population of people will turn out to be two thirds of prisoners and over one half of the welfare recipients in this country, [costing] the government billions of dollars each year.” Adam Parker, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “A heavy suspension policy may seem like a good solution, but it is not. It usually results in increased hatred and resentment toward school and rising drop out rates. Suspension should only be imposed in extreme cases of discipline.” Mena Brittain Blair, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois Teachers might be able to help more if they weren't so afraid: “Although some teachers are taking the new wave of violence in schools in stride, others have left their schools, or worse yet, the field of teaching altogether. This move many times leaves behind the 'tough' teachers that really don't nurture the children...which begins the vicious cycle all over again.” Amy Fritsch, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin “In one large urban area, there was so much drug use and gang-crimes that the teachers were afraid to say anything to the parents. They were scared that parents would punish the children and the children would kill them [the teachers] or at least seriously injure them.” Stephanie Renee French, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “Security and the power of the administration must be upgraded. An improvement must also be made in the area of teacher-student relation- ships. Feldman's survey says ninetyfive percent of the violence committed by students was directed at their teachers.” Dustin Gwinn, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “Teachers must become more involved in their student's lives, if they plan on preventing violence in their classroom.” Patrick A. Sampson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas Others believe if more students had self-esteem they would stay in school: “I feel that schools need to go deeper and stress self-esteem and decision making skills along with academics.” Sandy Gunther, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


“Teenagers who have a low self-esteem are more likely to get pregnant because to them, their lives seem pointless or the doors of the future seem closed. These teenage girls think that having a baby will make them feel needed. An example of this occurrence is when a girl that I know in Wyoming was left behind by her mother with her two brothers when they were all really young and then later got separated from her two brothers. A couple of years later, the guy she was engaged to broke up with her and two weeks later she was pregnant by a different guy altogether.” Angela Carmen Pinson, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington “Also, sex education teaches the students how to protect themselves when in a bad situation. This, in return, increases self esteem. I do not think that society really sees the importance in these sexual education classes.” JoEllyn Cordes, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “It is important for teens to know the value of an education and the consequences of being a teen mother. If the amount of welfare a mother can receive is limited, I believe her children will see how difficult it is to get by and stop the chain of welfare in their family. If welfare is constantly given to mothers who do not try to get a job, their children will see how easy it is to get money from the government and have children of their own at a very young age.” Rachel Overstreet, Kremlin-Hillsdale High School, Kremlin, Oklahoma Easy? A bay area woman called a popular San Francisco talk show on May 12, 1994 to say when she split with her husband and kept her three children she started receiving welfare support. (AFDC--Aid to Families with Dependent Children). She told her case worker she planned to go to college and get a teaching credential and asked for a list of child care providers. Her social worker laughed. The woman was incredulous when she was told she was on her own. She attacked the system, letting listeners know how terrible she thought it was that people who could hold down at least a minimum wage job could not go out and work because society did not provide them with child care. There are several issues here. For example, who did she think would pay the child care providers? President Clinton's welfare-reform plan addresses the issues raised above by Rachel and the San Francisco caller. We will discuss the President's proposal in the next section. Happily Sherrie, judging by the excerpt that follows, does not suffer from low selfesteem: “Some people in my community say that I shouldn't be able to attend the graduation ceremony because I am pregnant. I feel that it is my right to attend the ceremony whether I am pregnant or not. At the end of this year I will have completed the requirements just as all the other graduates have in order to graduate. The school superintendent called the


lawyers. I will be attending the graduation ceremony this spring.” Sherri Slagel, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado No doubt it is hard to study or care about school under the conditions described below: “Along with disease and pregnancy problems caused by promiscuity, mental anguish becomes a third problem. I have observed some of my friends trying to deal with the emotions of guilt and rejection after a sexually active relationship. One of my friends in particular had sex with a guy because she thought he would like her better. After she had sex with him, he ignored her and treated her really badly. She...was really depressed for quite a while after that. She quickly learned to get to know somebody and care a lot about them before she had sex with them.” Jodi Bentley, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Often, high school administrators are reluctant to mix teenage mothers with the rest of the student population. [They] can be unsympathetic toward a student who can't make it to school on time because she was up until 5:00 a.m. with a crying baby. Other students can be judgmental too; as though only sluts or dumb girls have babies.” Jaime Morris, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia And finally we come to the one cause of America's woes that has been a favorite subject of books and business consultants for the past ten years.

Short-Sighted Americans
Steve, the student we have chosen as spokesman on this subject, claims that teens are as short-sighted as the rest of us: “Responsible decisions. They're not what most kids today are trying to make. Most teenagers today focus on things other than making responsible decisions. They'd rather party, take drugs, smoke, drink alcohol and fool around in class. They're not looking for a meaningful education; they're only focusing on what will make them happy at the moment. They forget to look into the future and what they're going to do with their lives and careers. And they fail to realize that that's all that's going to matter as an adult. Most teenagers want to make a lot of money, but don't want to work for it. They want to be instant millionaires without working hard at all. And without a college education, most kids are going to have a hard time making much money. This is where teenagers in general must analyze their lives and find out what they really want to do with them. It's the most important decision they'll ever make!” Steve Vera, Richmond High School, Richmond, Illinois But perhaps short-sightedness is a blessing for this generation. Paula looked into her future and was devastated: “When I look in the mirror, I see a person full of hopes and dreams—dreams of a family, a career, and most of all, happiness. As I prepare to fulfill these dreams, I look around in the nation where I live and see a nation that has lost all hope and ultimately has no dreams for itself. I wonder how a nation built on the idea of freedom and the pursuit of


happiness can be full of such inner turmoil. What great force has come in and robbed us of our promise of happiness?” Paula Rogers Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama

Last but Not Least Lack Of Government Resources
“College education needs more funding to help less fortunate families send their children to college. People can't find a decent job with a high school diploma. If more teenagers went to colleges to further their education violence would decrease. Once someone is educated and has a career he may stay off the violent streets.” Carly Brant, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania Money is scarce; and not just for college. Educational Leadership magazine showed in a 1993 survey that an average of $454 of personal money is spent each year by caring elementary and secondary school teachers. In May, 1994 the Wall Street Journal featured an elementary teacher in Dallas who reportedly used about $1,000 of her own money every year to purchase classroom supplies. The study's co-author said the survey suggested that teachers will be spending more and more of their own dollars as school budgets continue to tighten. And it's not only federal funds that are scarce in the 1990's. State and local resources have dried up in some measure due to federal mandates. This fact accounts for the discrepancy in spending on education from state to state. Even where states are spending roughly the same amount per pupil the discrepancy can persist because of local government contributions to education. For instance, California is spending $5,000 per pupil while New York is spending $9,000. The problem is not with state funding, but with local spending which is restricted in California under that state's Proposition 13. Even that analysis is too simplistic. Further research reveals that the $9,000 per pupil in New York is an average figure which obscures some rather interesting facts. Scrutiny reveals that New York is actually spending between $3,500 and $5,000 per regular public school student and $18,700 per special education student. The New York Times reported (8/94) that twenty-five percent of a one billion education budget was allocated to special education. Many students realize their generation is getting only a tiny slice of Uncle Sam's pie. Some even have their own priorities which don't always relate to schools, scholarships and jobs: “We need to urge the government to stop spending billions of dollars to track down drug shipments, and start spending it on establishing drug courts to put low-level offenders into treatment rather than jail.” Victoria Hintz, Bondurant-Farrar High School, Bondurant, Iowa


Some students are fanatical waste-watchers: “In an attempt to bolster public support, the Postal Service is going to spend seven million dollars to change the logo. Instead of the old eagle with wings spread, the new eagle will be flying into wind. This cost taxpayers seven million dollars.” Willis Smith, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas It's time that adults recognized that members of the younger generation are aware of the national debt and the annual deficit and what it means for their future and they're angry: “Many people are aware of the irresponsible behavior in our government.... The government is permitted to overspend as much as they please because no one has held them accountable. Our country now has a national debt in the trillions. Is this responsible behavior?” Jeremy Adams, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania Jeremy claims government has exhibited irresponsible behavior. I wonder what he would think about the $5,000 that was spent by a school district recently as a fee to diagnose black specks which were showing up on the scalps of students. The specks were found to be flakes from the school's old and worn roof. The better use for those scarce education dollars is obvious! In the instance above it is likely administrators had no real choice in allocating the funds. However our representatives in Washington, D.C. consciously make choices that are little more than window-dressing. Money is being spent on low priorities that sound good—programs such as Vaccine for Children. What politician could safely oppose such a fine sounding program? Even though many officials were aware that immunization rates are already at record levels and that free vaccine is readily available in most local health departments, the program was approved. An existent federal program, which costs taxpayers $200 million annually, already allows children to obtain free immunizations at local health clinics across the nation. A 1993 survey showed approximately 90 percent of pre-schoolers had received vaccinations, the highest rate among preschool-children ever. Nevertheless, beginning in August, 1994, Vaccine for Children, which will cost an additional $430 million over five years, plans to start its own operations. The administration plans to store up to 40 percent of the nation's childhood vaccine supply in a GSA warehouse now used for storing paint solvent. According to a research fellow at the Gordon Center at Brandeis University, the federal government's proposed manner of distributing the vaccine is bound to entail a great deal of waste and employ storage and shipping methods that would shut down a private company. What local officials really need are funds for more nurses to administer the shots and more clerical staff to operate the already existent vaccine programs. Amazingly officials in Arkansas, a state that should have some pull with the present administration, claims that Vaccine for Children will take time and staff from their own programs.


Many people see this as pure politics at the expense of children. Scarce resources are being wasted in an effort to fulfill a high sounding campaign pledge uttered in ignorance of the facts. Could this be one more case where image takes precedence over substance? In the excerpt below, Carrie uncovered another source of concern: “Over 250,000 drug addicts and alcoholics collected $1.4 billion in disability benefits from Social Security last year. Only 15,700 of those recipients were receiving treatment for their problems.” Keli Crane, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas If the excerpt from Kelli's paper seems innocuous to you, perhaps you should consult Forbes magazine; the January 17, 1994 issue. In it we are told that federal disability payments have doubled in five years. In 1994, 2.9 million additional people are expected to apply for federal disability payments; up from 1.6 million in 1989 or an eighty percent increase. They and their dependents, together with those already on the rolls, will collect $63 billion or about double the 1989 payments. The money comes from SSI—Supplemental Security Income, a poverty program, or through the Social Security disability trust fund. No doubt the majority of recipients are genuinely in need of assistance, nevertheless the temptation to fake disability exists. A sixty-two-year old who can qualify for disability can collect twenty-five percent more from SDI than from regular social security benefits for early retirement. Congress has made it harder and harder to be denied benefits and easier and easier to collect; “Federal law prohibits convicted felons from collecting Social Security while imprisoned, however, people found not guilty because of insanity may still receive disability benefits.” Jennifer Hodges, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas During the Bush administration children became eligible for benefits if they could show an “attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder”—something that didn't even have a name a few years earlier. Look at the incentive the federal government offers to states and to families willing to declare their child disabled: “A Michigan mother with two children on welfare receives $717 a month ($459 in cash and $258 in food stamps) with $200 of the cash coming from the state. But if one child is declared disabled, the family benefits rise to $968; the state's cost drops to about $162 a month.” (Forbes) The temptation to remain on the program is so great that only one-half of one percent leave voluntarily. Of the millions involved in the program, only 70,000 claims were reviewed in 1993 because staff was too busy processing new claims.


Officials know that the disability trust fund will be out of money by next year, but they are not troubled. They will simply divert money from the more plentiful retirement fund and ask for higher payroll taxes down the pike. We urge young people to study all sides of social policy issues because their economic future is at stake. There are reasons behind statistics that translate to fewer jobs and less takehome pay. Young people shouldn't wonder that employers, who foot the bill for half of the employee's payroll tax, become more and more reluctant to hire new workers. When they do manage to get a job, they should understand why more is withheld from their paychecks than has been the case with previous generations. I don't believe that you, the reader, whatever your generation, are willing to leave students like Paula Rogers (page 65) and Wade Harris (below) in despair. Solutions are proposed in the next section. “The responsibility of the deficit is ours so we must act together to bring it to where it should be. I am asking as an 18-year-old concerned with my future and the future of others here in the United States. I would like to get married and have a family, but what kind of a world would I bring them into if we can't even pay our bills as a nation?” Wade Harris, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho

“We can't just sit back and watch the world go by, while we do nothing.” Adam Fordyce, Froid High School, Froid, Montana

Guns are one aspect of the violence problem: “A major factor of violence is the availability of guns. They are rapidly becoming cheaper and easier to buy. Many of the guns currently bought in the United States are imported from China and the ex-Soviet empire. These guns are cheaper & more abundant than their American counterparts.” Michael Hutchison, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas To get rid of violence, simply get rid of guns. Simple or quixotic? “When nine-year old Christopher Harris became a victim of a shooting, the city of St. Louis also took action. The city collected 8,500 firearms which were melted down into a

statue of young Christopher.” Rebekah L. Kochar, Conrad Weiser High School,Robesonia, Pennsylvania “In San Francisco, a man went into a high-rise building and killed several people, including a wife and mother of a baby girl. The woman's husband, who now has to raise his daughter without a mother, went to Washington, D.C. to speak out against gun violence.” Carlene Fast, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California Collecting guns, constructing statues and making speeches may make the performers feel better, but these things aren't likely to curtail crime. Carlene has another idea: “Guns could be traded in for vouchers that could be used toward college expenses. For instance, every gun that is turned in could earn a $100 voucher toward college books or tuition. This not only might remove guns from our young people, but gives them something that can be applied toward their future and a more productive, responsible life.” Carlene Fast, Pioneer High, San Jose, California Carlene added a new twist to gun collection. It is a change from the one idea we heard over and over—legislate an end to guns: “I feel that if we had more laws that prohibited the ownership of guns the fewer problems we would be faced with.” Jay Salen, Marion High, Marion, South Dakota “A bill to prohibit guns to minors is in the South Dakota House.” Jory Wipf, James Valley Christian School, Huron, South Dakota “I feel that the only way to take care of this problem is to ban the future manufacturing, sale, and possession of all types of firearms. All existing guns should be collected and destroyed.” Chris Olsen, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “If it were up to me, the government would destroy all the guns in the country. We would go back to the days of fighting with spears, swords, bow and arrows, and rocks; back to the medieval ages, when the test of a real man came from his ability to swing his sword, not in his agility to pull a puny trigger. Anyone can pull some stupid trigger. Where is the skill in that? Let's get rid of all the guns, and then we'll see who the true hero's are.” Joe Parker, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Joe (above) has his own agenda. He would get rid of guns, not to curb violence, but to encourage skill in fighting. Apparently Joe's true hero is not someone who promotes peace, but rather someone who kills skillfully.


“There should be no guns on the street, period. Even the police should be disarmed by the law.” Andy Chen, New Providence High School, New Providence, New Jersey Perhaps Andy intends to transform American police into gun-free English Bobbies? In the excerpt that follows, Casey has a more moderate proposal: “I think that fully automatic guns should be off the street. These kinds of weapons belong in the military and they should be left there. People should be allowed to have hunting rifles.... I would [rule] that you would have to have a special license to own a pistol. However, people should have the right to own a pistol so they can protect themselves and their families. Remember that it is the person who discharges the firearm that is to be responsible for the outcome of his or her actions.” Casey Glade, Hoonah High School, Hoonah, Alaska For every student that advocated gun control another pointed out that gun control laws disarm victims and leave the guns in the hands of criminals: “Gun control attacks a serious problem from the wrong angle. Today sixty million Americans own two hundred million firearms, including sixty million handguns. Yet, less than four tenths of one percent of those handguns will be used legally. This will punish the law-abiding citizen, rather than the criminal who uses firearms in the commission of a crime. Evidence indicates that criminals have no need to purchase handguns legally, and overwhelmingly do not. This nation needs a tougher anti-crime bill, rather than an antigun bill. It is time in the U.S. to pass legislation which provides severe penalties for those criminals using firearms.” Larry Scott Graddy, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas “Take a piece of paper out, draw a map of the United States and color in the areas where guns are the most highly restricted. Next take a trans- parent sheet and color in the areas with the highest crime rates and lay that over the first map and you will see the areas match almost exactly. This should prove to any rational person that gun control laws do not work.... Given there are more good guys than bad guys, I think if all the good guys had guns, the criminals would soon learn that theirs is a dangerous occupation.” Joe Nicklas, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “The long history of waiting-period-plans points up the failure of those systems in other criminal justice areas as well. Waiting periods, permit- to-purchase laws and police background checks have been instituted around the country for most of the century. There has been ample time to study the effectiveness of waiting periods in deterring violent crime. They appear to be useless in curbing crime. One research study concluded that gun control laws have no significant effect on rate of violence beyond what can be attributed to background social conditions. Such laws do not effectively limit access to guns by the violence-prone nor does accessibility to guns appear to have an effect on the rates of violent crimes and accidents. But the Brady bill rests on a largely unsupported assumption that the combination of a waiting period and police background checks will somehow reduce handgun crime. There is no real proof of this...Assistant Attorney General Eleanor Acheson was forced to admit that the administration has no statistical


proof that Brady would reduce handgun homicides or handgun Larry Scott Graddy, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas


Self Control not Gun Control: [Regarding the Brady Law] “This law is one that attempts to gain control of the weapons used in the United States. I believe that the need for such a bill exemplifies the loss of control in our country rather than a harness on control.” Melanie Homan, Demopolis High School, Demopolis, Alabama “No matter what we do we'll never rid our country of guns. Licensing, waiting periods, background checks, and high taxes may help, but most guns are obtained illegally. An American who is educated and has good values would by far be the best kind of gun control. We need to create a society that can handle it's problems in other ways besides blowing someone away.” Stephanie Flint, Kensington High, Kensington, Kansas “The gun is simply a tool and not lethal until it is held in someone's hand. The gun itself is not at fault; it is not dangerous until picked up.” Trang Le, Central Islip High School, Central Islip, New York Starting with Trang Le's excerpt above, “It's not the guns; it's the people” was the theme we heard the most; not surprising since the essay topic was Responsibility: “Everyone claims that it is the guns that are causing the problem and not the people. I think this is a prime example of our irresponsibility in the United States. We always blame somebody or something other than ourselves for our problems. There is not a gun on the earth that can think so there isn't a gun that can decide to go and kill someone.” Jeremy Lattimore, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “Criminals use guns to take the things they want, and they don't care if they have to kill anyone or not. [Some] people [would] rather shoot you than look at you. Guns are not our problem. Yes, they do aggravate the situation, but our major problems are the gun owners.” Scott Fowler, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “Guns don't kill people--people do”. If you look at it in one light this is certainly true, but this phrase [acknowledges citizens'] responsibility to [handle] guns [conscientiously]. If you look at the phrase [in] another light, you might realize if those people who do kill with guns suddenly don't have those guns, then what would happen? It takes very little effort to aim and pull a trigger. That can all happen in a split second and the result can never be reversed. I feel no one needs to have a gun mainly because I feel no good can come from them.” Dylan Knowles, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania Dylan obviously did some soul searching and so did Todd. In the excerpt below Todd deviates from the more general platitude to make an insightful, and helpful, point:


“About half of all the families in American own at least one gun. The steps that the government is taking [toward gun control] are good, and children must be taught about guns, but [even more importantly] children must be brought up knowing their lives are worth something. A majority of kids today have been raised by one parent and have been taught no basic rules. I think the problem with teens having the attitude 'I don't care if I die,' all starts with their development as a youngster.... Self-esteem is very important.” Todd Gordon, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California Maybe if we teach people how to handle guns responsibly: “We have a lot of hunters in our area, therefore we have a lot of guns. But the difference between us and bigger cities is that we make sure that our children know the safety techniques of guns. Granted there will be hunting accidents, but they are not intentional.” Jay Salen, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “In rural areas where using guns is a way of life, most children know how to safely handle a gun before the age of five. You do not see many incidents of children shooting themselves or others in these areas. If a child mishandles a gun, he gets a severe spanking followed by a good talking to. If this happened in urban areas, less child violence would be found.” Joe Nicklas, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado Teaching responsible technique may not be enough: “The parents feel that they are being responsible by teaching their children how to safely handle a gun, but in the end it turns out badly because it does not occur to them that when the child runs into difficulty, he will remember where that weapon is.” Eric Bachmann, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California “If teenagers could not use guns, they would find something, possibly more dangerous, to use.” Shane Morris, Camden High, Camden, Tennessee Chris (below) sees technology as a probable answer: “With technology increasing it is now possible to make laser-guns that can be set to stun people. These types of weapons used to only be in Star Wars movies, but now they are a technological [reality]. There would be no more need for guns that kill or severely wound their victims when they could just be stunned. People could still protect their homes, and there would not be any more accidental deaths or murders. Once the technology is perfected then these 'stun guns' can take the role of the safe weapon of the future and make guns, as well as violent crimes, obsolete.” Chris Olsen, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Leah, Cari and Beth offer more immediate solutions: “I feel that when the child starts to ask questions because he sees guns on television or [elsewhere], it is time to talk. The parents who fail to keep guns out of children's reach should be punished. An ordinance should be passed which would force gun owners to use trigger locks, store weapons behind locked doors or keep them dismantled when not in


use.” Leah Stetz, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “Parents who feel the need for guns should have to take classes that provide them with the correct handling of guns and how to properly store them. Also in the classes should be the stories of how bad guns are and how they hurt more than they protect. Self defense classes need to be promoted more so that people will feel secure defending themselves rather than having a gun do it for them. Maybe people should look into security systems and have a little more faith in the local police rather than try to be heroes.” Cari Welch, Richmond High School, Richmond, Illinois “Schools could help stop the violence and drug dealing in school by random locker checks and if necessary the use of a metal detector to stop the kids from carrying guns and knives in school.” Beth Civitares, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania A nearby school district is paying $300,000 annually to ensure the safety of its staff and students. Thirty years ago most of that money would have gone for books and other supplies. More schools are spending money on safety and less on educational materials. In our area , Salinas, California has had police officers on campuses since 1978 but it is a relatively new experience for other coastal cities. Monterey will have a police officer on it's campuses starting in the fall of 1994.

A Cure for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
“As a teenager, my responsibilities on the farm range from feeding elk and cattle to cleaning and cooking for my family, friends, and guests at our bed and breakfast. Drugs and alcohol are really the last things on my mind. Wouldn't it be nice if every teenager could grow up on a busy farm, with a wholesome atmosphere and caring family?” Nicole McConnell, Prairie High School, New Raymer, Colorado “I believe there is a solution to every problem, and I have a solution for drunk driving. It's not fancy and complicated; since I've never been to law school. But I do know that because you move to another state, you shouldn't have your driving record erased. Your address might change but you as a person do not. A person's driving record should be considered nation wide. First time offenders should get their licenses taken away for five years; second time offenders for life. If this law was in effect now more than half of all drunk driving incidents would never have existed. Now imagine that. The answer is so simple, yet our government has done nothing.” Jennifer Pilarczyk, Falls City High School, Falls City, Texas “I believe that any time anyone is caught dealing drugs, they should be given a lethal overdose of whatever drug they were selling. This would definitely reduce the number of drug dealers and, while it seems a little harsh, harsh measures are needed to stop the


crimes.” Leah Fuller Bates, Blue Ridge High , Blue Ridge, Texas More than a little harsh, Leah. But then Sherri (below) isn't playing softball either: “Drunk drivers are let off way too easily in our society. If they want to drink, let them learn to drink responsibly. If they cannot learn responsible drinking, let them pay the consequences. Anyone pulled over and found to have a blood alcohol level of illegal limits or their driving is impaired, their license should be revoked on the spot. They must also attend mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous classes. If a drunk driver seriously injures someone, they should receive a prison sentence of no less than five years. While in prison, they should receive counseling similar to that offered by the Alcoholics Anonymous program. If drunk drivers kill someone, they should receive the death penalty. Their mistakes took lives; in this world there is no room for those types of mistakes. The death penalty seems very harsh and maybe too much of a punishment, but that just might be what it takes to stop the [loss of life] caused by drunk driving.” Sherri Koltes, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “I think that when someone under the legal drinking age gets arrested for an alcohol related incident, they should be forced to contact their parents. Then these teenagers should be forced by law to attend classes on underage drinking and driving. Once the kids do this, they may realize that it is not worth being sent to lectures for acting irresponsibly.” Julie Thomas, Lexington High School, Illinois Those who have lectures planned for the future may do well to highlight Julie's excerpt (above) and consult it frequently. “Schools should [offer] training for the resistance of drugs, and maybe even involve the parents in the classroom discussions. The use of local police is a large plus, too…. If the people who take drugs could realize what drugs are doing to them mentally and physically, they might reconsider their actions.... Rehabilitation centers help drug abusers and troubled people to get back on their feet and return to society soberly. Society does not feel it is right what these people did, but to reduce unemployment, crime, and violence they feel they should help those people. Also, society cares for those people and they just want to lend a helping hand.” Shonny Waters, Froid High School, Froid, Montana “The solution I will present for this essay is on the topic of DUI and possession convictions. First of all, I believe that people should be more responsible and not drink and drive, but when they do, law enforcement needs to be responsible about arrest and conviction efforts. In order for our system to run smoothly, we need everyone to take some responsibility for what he or she does. We need to make it a little easier for the DUI and possessions convictions to take place so the people won't get away. I suggest we put a breathalyzer in every squad car or make sure that the offenders are brought back to the station for a test and that the officers confiscate all of the alcohol all of the time. With these improvements I believe people will accept more responsibility and things like the


fight against crime will improve. The responsibility can not just lie on the officer; it must also take place in the courts. The penalties must be upheld and enforced. Currently the penalty for a first time offender for a possession is a fifty dollar fine and six months probation. I believe the fine should be raised to one hundred dollars and at least twelve months probation. This penalty is not extremely severe but I think it would make people think before they do something. With all of the systems working together, we could lower drunk driving and increase convictions. In conclusion I believe that if all people take up just a little more responsibility in their everyday life, the world would run a lot smoother. We can't just sit back and watch the world go by, while we do nothing.” Adam Fordyce, Froid High School, Froid ,Montana Although they live in different states, Jessica Moen and Holly White came up with the same idea (below): “Put a taxi service at all bars. Taxi drivers always are waiting to drive the customers home. The cost for the taxi drivers can be made up by raising the prices of beer and liquor. This will make the roads safer and the higher prices may keep the consumption level down.” Jessica Moen, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “I also think that bars and clubs should take on some of the responsibility. They supply the alcohol and make money doing so. Why can't they help out a little? They could hire a person to be a full time designated driver if someone is to intoxicated to drive home this person will make sure they arrive home safely, free of charge.” Holly R. White, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri

Role Models
“Parents are models for their children, even when they are not trying to be. Children often act and speak like their parents. Parents can use this strong influence to help their children avoid alcohol and drug use.” Tiffany Hackett, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “The child's parents should take responsibility for their actions because the best inheritance a father can leave his child is a good example.” Anne Purfield, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “Responsible parents almost always lead to responsible kids.” Joey L. Morrison, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “Children view others as role models. They might even try to mimic their parent's actions. For example, if a parent is truthful in a situation like being overpaid at a grocery store, a child will [learn] and will try to also be truthful. Discussing decisions and actions with children enables them to see why something is right or wrong.” Mandi Countryman, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas


“The best we can do to prevent more children from becoming juvenile trouble makers, is to be the best role models and parents we can be, now and in the future.” Jessica Wagner, Kensington High, Kensington, Kansas “Kids follow by example; therefore we must show how to take responsibility and not just spout our ideals. Otherwise, we won't be taking responsibility ourselves!” Jenna Freeman, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “Parents and teachers must try to provide alternatives to alcohol and drugs, and also must be good role models for today's youth.” Kristen Pazdera, New Providence High School, New Providence, New Jersey Chris (below) takes the role model concept beyond parents and teachers: “In my opinion, young people need positive role models outside the family to view and gain proper attitudes, aspirations, and personal characteristics. If values are instilled when the child is younger, the child can aspire to be something more than just average. To inspire these values, I believe in having a mentor program between younger kids and teenagers. In this program, teenagers actually become the child's friend and role model. They can read books, play games, and listen and talk to each other which help the teenager and the young child. For the younger child, it gives them someone to look up to, someone to imitate, and someone to aspire to. These children may not have a father/mother figure role in their life, and by having a mentor can fulfill this vital role in a child's development. For the teenager, this mentor, father/mother figure role can ultimately change his or her life. By setting an example for these young kids, the teenagers are learning the complete meaning of responsibility. These teenagers must always be in a position to be leaders, always giving kids good personal values and manners. And by giving these teens such an awesome responsibility, a real meaning is being created in their lives simultaneously. To enhance my idea, I believe that schools, community centers, and businesses must all contribute to the education of both the young kids and the teens by setting up scholarships, job training, and more corporate involvement. I believe that with all this community involvement, a program like this can really be successful, and it can teach kids a real meaning of responsibility.” Chris Newcomb, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “Optimism is a very good thing. Just the other day our school paid for a [motivational] speaker to come give a presentation to our student body. It was very strong and influential. Even the kids that never listen to anything listened that day. The guest speaker was a man by the name of Bob Weiland. He lost both his legs in Vietnam but has never looked at this as a disadvantage. He was a man who was helping making this world a happy place to live. At our school we also have a student-run Aids Task Force. They are a group of students that work to make good things happen, in our school. They work to keep our community aware and alert about Aids.” B. Prosch, DeForest High School, DeForest Wisconsin


“I think that big business taking responsibility will make others realize that everyone has responsibility.” Jeremy Lattimore, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota We were impressed by the thought that some students gave to their analysis of role models. Many are persuasive in arguing that role models are important and really make an impact: “Most of us, at some point, have looked up to someone or wished that we were someone else. These people were our role models. We didn't pick them simply because we knew of them, but because they touched us somehow. We can't always wait for people to help and guide us. Once in a while, I think that we need to take a step back from whatever it is that we are involved with and evaluate where we stand. We need to realize that we are all role models and we are responsible for the way we act because what we do affects so many others.” Hao Duong, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania “Not enough people in our society today care enough about themselves to try to be an example. People need to learn that no matter what they do somebody is always watching. … We always have an admirer of some sort.” Jenni Williams, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “If we do not...take responsibility as we should, it will be our own society that destroys this nation.” Brian Wallace, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas

Alternatives to Gangs
“If I were to make up a personal contribution, I think that I would set up some kind of place where the young gang members could come and do fun things that they like to do. They could play sports, read, watch television, or anything they wanted to just as long as they weren't on the streets.” Marshall Best, Lincoln County High School, Eureka, Montana “First we need to publicize the possibilities of anti-gang involvement. One program that can be used is guns for jobs. Many gang members support this. Gang members will have the chance to turn in their guns and get a job. Many people or places in different cities need helpers. At first they can be hired at minimum wage. Many can do this while in school, or receive training while in school.” Dennis Kregar, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “The living standards...could be dramatically increased by placing a greater (emphasis) on education in economically deprived areas. This should include...incentives for teachers.” Chris Brown, Kinsley High, Kinsley, Kansas


On page 136 you will read about Jimmy T., a young gang member who took his own life. He was one of the many children without hope. Erik's solution (below) is based on hope—the hope of having a wonderful family. We included his excerpt here hoping it would spur readers to figure out how to make his solution work: “Bring the hope of having a wonderful family back, and in return that sense of hopelessness that we see in our children will vanish.” Erik Russell, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon Todd, Andy and others have some ideas: “The gang members need to be counseled and show them that there are better things in life such as a good education. The need to be convinced that the only place they will end up is in jail or dead.” Todd Gordon, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California “If more businesses would concentrate more on hiring teenagers this would also help keep kids off the street.” Andy Rapstine, Falls City High School, Falls City, Texas Jason, below, had an impressive proposal worked out: “Ending violence in our society must begin with our children. Children need positive role models, but often don't have opportunity to get to know anyone. Many students in our high school enjoy hobbies. I would like to start a program where high school students organize a club room after school, each older student being assigned his own room. In this room, the high schooler would share his hobby with any interested elementary student, while at the same time, share positive values and ideas. From contact in these individual groups, the high school student could possibly identify any troubled or lonely signs from the elementary students and initiate one-on-one activities with that young student.” Jason Tenhonen, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Another way to hopefully curb the crime situation would be to have more anti-crime seminars at elementary schools. We have to teach kids at a young age.... Another solution may be to stiffen the penalties for youthful repeat offenders.... But even that won't solve the whole problem. But, I feel that it will probably help more than a state-wide, unconstitutional and, not to mention, very expensive curfew.” Aaron Bradley, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “Crime control is complicated, frustrating, and very expensive. People want something to be done now. It does not help to tell them that the roots of the problem are other problems such as joblessness, family disintegration, or drugs; [problems attributable to the] irresponsibility of Americans in the past. Now the solution that they are looking towards is more prisons and tougher penalties for offenders.” Kara Krauskopf, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “My contribution toward the fight against crime [centers] around volunteer work. Helping educate children, communicating with criminals, and using safety precautions


are just a few of the different areas of volunteering I could do to help this nation in the future.” Donita Straka, Iowa-Grant HS Livingston, Wisconsin “Imagine our country without crime. It seems impossible, but it's not. We first have to want a nation without crime and believe that we can achieve one. The next step is to set up stricter laws against people who commit crimes. This will help people think about the consequences before they act. We need to start educating our children about how bad crime is and how to take responsibility for their actions.” Kari Mills, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “We need to stress the values of hard work, self-reliance, and responsibility to family. If we teach these values other problems, such as racism, could be drastically reduced since children will be viewing each other in terms of merit and not on the basis of their skin color.... If we simply teach students about hard work and content of character, children are not going to be prejudiced.” Michael J. Pyle, Niantic-Harristown High School, Niantic, Illinois “Many would contend a child living in a neighborhood where drugs and death are seen everyday cannot lead a life outside of that. With strong parental support, involvement in the child's school, and general concern for the child's well being, a child can be shown that he or she can be or do anything. Kids who are instilled with morals and values early in life many times take an active part in their community, not because they are forced to by their parents, but because they believe in what they are doing. I see many teenagers who are successful, dedicated to their schoolwork, sports, and music, and who care about those in their community who are not as fortunate as others.” Kelly Shehi, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Offering encouragement and nurturing tolerance for differences is one preventive measure we heard frequently: “Children who don't learn about love or sharing at home need to learn [about] them at school. We need to show children that, even though their parents may be unmarried or divorced or abusive or absent, that doesn't mean that they must grow up to be the same way. Even though no one in their family may have finished high school or college, they still can.” Dee Hazelrigg, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “We are all different, and young people need to know that it's all right to have a sense of individuality. People with uniqueness will have more confidence and this will enable them to express how they truly feel without feeling as if they are outcasts in society. If we have diversity among our thoughts and opinions, conflicts will have more creative resolutions...individualism will help decrease irresponsibility and people will be less likely to follow the lead of others in the wrong.” Shanna Mabie, Freeman High School, Rockford Washington


“There seems to be a growing need for personal character improvement...Why is it that something can seem so blatantly wrong to one person but another person would not even notice it? That is a question solved by each individual in [in his/her own life]. We are a country with many differences to offer each other. What I am saying is that we need to be more accepting of these and learn from each other. That is when we will find a solution.” Meralee Jones, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “Everyone has been discriminated against at one time or another.... It doesn't have any power over you unless you let it have power over you.” Sherri Slagel, Prairie School, New Raymer, Colorado Students see the importance of volunteers who care: “What we need is more people who care about these young people and are willing to work with them and help solve the problem from the inside out. We have to have more people volunteering time for community services such as the Boys Club or Boy Scouts. We need to start when they are young so they don't have a chance to grow up in the way they have been for the past decade.” Chris Evers, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “My solution to this crime problem is to give the children something to do that they are interested in. Some examples are youth athletic leagues, Big Brother & Big Sister programs, and more clubs and organizations sponsored by our local schools. Sure it may cost our government (tax- payers) more money, but...” Mitchell Gerstenkorn, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “Another idea would be to have a mentor-type program involving high school students and first graders. The high schoolers would start when they are sophomores and adopt the first grade class of that year. The classes could meet once a week and take field trips together as they get to know one another better as individuals. They could discuss the problems that each age group has to go through. These two classes could continue like this until the high schoolers graduate. I feel this would tear down the wall between the two age groups and show the little kids that it is possible to survive difficult years. This would also give the younger kids an additional role model and hopefully show them how to cope with problems before they arise. Having the ability to make the right decision could effect them for the rest of their lives.” Kevin Neubauer, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Elementary students, who are having problems could be placed with high school student volunteers. These volunteers would “adopt” them into their families and instill necessary values. Also by spending time with them they would show them that someone cares and they wouldn't feel they need to get attention in other, more violent ways.” Carol McCarty, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “The main step for youth to become more responsible is for them to see more responsible role models to follow. If more people would be generous enough to freely give of themselves for the benefit of others, the youth of today would follow their example and


the generations to come would become Carrie Milam, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida



“I can start to educate younger people right here in my home, beginning with my younger brother. I can be a role model for him by not drinking or using drugs and by simply talking to him about the dangers of doing so. I can become a member of SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) and FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Just by these simple measures, I am teaching patterns of behavior to young children.” Zachary T. King, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “My solution is to try to teach others how to act responsibly in all situations. [People] need to be taught how to spend their money wisely. One way would be to hold free 'howto' classes. These classes could be used to teach almost everything that could be used to improve a person's life. For example...teach how to shop for the items necessary to fix a meal and then how to cook it....They will not be as likely to spend their money in expensive fast food restaurants. We need to start teaching children when they are very young that all things do not have a guarantee. Therefore they need to learn how to manage their money wisely. They need to realize that they may not always have a job, car, or home.” Wendy Jolliff, Lincoln County High School, Eureka, Montana

To Clean Up A Polluted Culture
When we talked about causation in the last section we saw that the media was sometimes perceived as a bad influence on impressionable youngsters. In the excerpts below students offer some practical solutions: “One solution is to set aside a TV in the house where such cable channels a MTV are not accessible to the child. Along with this tell the child that this is their TV and therefore they will have a sense of ownership. Which in turn will make the child not want to watch any other TV in the house. Until they are at a age where they can better understand TV and it's consequences.” Mahasin Haqq, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “TV stations have produced three devices to be used by parents to block out what their children watch. These three devices are SuperVision, TV Allowance, and Time Slot. SuperVision and TV Allowance both use a password to control what is watched. Time Slot uses a plastic card that is slid through a cable box...TV violence may never end, but its affliction against children can end if people take responsibility for themselves, for their children, and for the welfare of others.” Kate E. Kauffman, Antietam High School, Reading, Pennsylvania “With the technology in today's world, a computer chip could be made that would screen out the programs that are considered violent. This could be accomplished by rating programs and having the computer chip read the rating and figure out whether or not the show is appropriate. If the show is not, then the show will be cut out or blacked out. ...have each person in the family...have a code that would screen out certain programs for

the younger viewers and a code to expand the viewing abilities for the adults.” Becky Anderson, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “So how do we fix this problem? The first step is to achieve what the researchers call 'television literacy.' That basically means you need to understand what you're seeing and hearing. After you understand what you're seeing is violence, check your TV listing for an alternate show at the same time. Watching something on VCR is another way to avoid the violence in the media. I hardly ever watch television for more than an hour, but I do watch my VCR consistently. One person cannot change the media, but one person can change their own outlook on what the media presents.” Angela Jennings, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma Self control may be the answer: “Since we cannot stop children from watching the movies they really want to watch without controlling them in a very strict way, and the law doesn't give us the [right] to stop stations from broadcasting their violence and sex-filled programs. We must find ways to motivate children and stations to control themselves.” Kilian Kreutzer, South Kent High School, South Kent, Connecticut Keilani (below) agrees and offers suggestions: “Find something constructive for the youth of America to do. There are too many people who rely on television as their baby-sitter or as their sole source of entertainment. Instead of promoting television and movies, promote hobbies that stimulate the mind, like writing or reading.” Keilani Williams, New Underwood High School, New Underwood, South Dakota As for the reality issue: “A few ways to help would be to watch the programs that children are watching and discuss with them what is real and what is not, as well as what is right and wrong.” Becky Anderson, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “When I baby-sit, I have found that it helps when we discuss the unreality of television and about the frequent use of violence.” Angela Jennings, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma “Parents can become active participants with their children by watching shows with them and discussing the situations shown, whether they are actual or fiction and what the outcome would really be if people acted in that manner in real life.” Mike Godfrey, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon The media can play a positive role: “I think people need to start by bringing good moral values back into things such as television, magazines, etc. I also think that there should be something such as a magazine that rewards...heroes of today. They should try to push the importance of good moral values in society.” Jeff Hershberger, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois


“More of the good things happening should be publicized rather than the bad things.” Gabriela Gamez, Hereford, High School, Hereford, Texas “By conveying ideas of responsibility through the actions and situations which are portrayed on television and by the media, it is possible to produce very positive results. This is a phenomenal task, but avoiding a change now will only create an even larger task in the future.” Jerry Schreck, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “The media and entertainment world must step forward and help teach our children that violence kills.... Vanessa Scherzer, of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence states, Every week kids see their favorite TV star blown away one minute and out of the hospital the next. They don't see what family members go through, they don't see a kid in a wheelchair, and they don't even see the legal ramifications” Patrick A. Sampson, Concordia High School, Kansas “The Family First series...centers on real family problems and offers choices in solving them.” Mandy McCormack, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas Mara (below) advocates a self-regulating media: “Out of all of these stories about responsibility and irresponsibility, I think that the most disturbing example is that of media irresponsibility. The Los Angeles riots are a classic example of how powerful the media is in our society. While private citizens need to be accountable for their own actions, the media has to realize its power and responsibility to the nation. I don't think that the government should step in and censor the media, but I believe that the media should regulate itself. I think government should give tax incentives to those networks and newspapers that join a Media Responsibility Network. This network would be made up of different individuals and companies in the industry, and they would set up universal guidelines for all of its members to follow.” Mara Bergeron, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota The entertainment industry replaced the preachers during the sixties and TV became the promulgator of values. Self-control and self-discipline became synonymous with “square”. “Do your own thing” and the dictum to “let it all hang out,” became the new value. Today many young people are more influenced by rappers and entertainers like Madonna than their own families, books or teachers. In the excerpts below, Angella and Chris advocate change: “I also think that television shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place should be taken off of the air, and that programs like them, but without the sex scenes should be put on. I think that more educational shows should be put on the air to try and make teenagers be less willing to have sexual intercourse.” Angella Carmen Pinson, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington


“Labels have already been made to warn against violent and profane words in music, but should also be used to warn against songs that encourage increased sexual activity among youth. These labels would be voluntary, but the big name artists, such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Too Short, and White Zombie, should start doing this sort of labeling so that other artists will follow.” Chris Sanchez, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas

Today's families are faced with conflicting desires; the desire for two incomeproducers as well as the desire for one parent to remain in the home to raise the children. Many students attempted to resolve the dilemma in their essays. Some relevant excerpts are reproduced below: “Parents should consider working at home where their child can remain at home with them. Nowadays, it is possible to work at home especially if it is a business-type career because one of the parents can easily purchase a computer in which they can telecommunicate with their colleagues.” Didi Andrew, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois Alternatively: “Today child care is one of the fastest growing employee benefits. Child care [is offered by] 5,600 firms and 1,400 have on site day care. A few companies even offer subsidies for ongoing child care, sick child care, and care when a parent must travel or work overtime...Combining parenting and a career is a difficult feat, but it can be done. I really like the idea of on-site day care at work. Taking this a step further, employers can possibly set aside time during the day when parents can visit their young ones. Field trips can be arranged through their day care. Car pooling can be set up through the workplace also.” Felicia Bell, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Ways are offered for parents to spend more time with children: “Parents need to be setting examples of responsibility. They can do this by being involved in their children's lives. A good idea to spend more time together is by making a schedule of family activities. Perhaps making a date to do something, like go to a baseball game together, could assure that time is being spent together. As long as parents and children make time to be together, the communication between them will teach the child responsibility.” Nikki Rae Videen, Luck High School, Luck, Wisconsin “[We could institute] a National Family Day. This would be celebrated privately in the family homes. It would be a day that the parents and children could enjoy doing something as a family. This would encourage communication between the members. It would also allow the family to talk about ways to improve their time spent together and their feelings about the family.” Jennifer Friday, Newell-Fonda High, Newell, Iowa


“One of my teachers mentioned that if more families were like The Waltons crime and violence in this nation would be almost wiped out. A strong, healthy family unit teaches morals and values to themselves and to those around them. No matter how many government bills or laws are passed, nothing is going to stop the fall of our nation unless we, as a people, take care of our families. It's our job, it starts with us.” Angie Park, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington Divorce: “I believe divorces should not be so easy to get. Many families have problems because the parents have broken up. Laws should be made to make marriages more difficult to end.” Cary Brown, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “Children should be able to see that their parents love each other. Little things like hugging, kissing, holding hands, and sitting on laps really contribute to a child's healthy attitude about love. They shouldn't have to ever wonder if their parents love each other. A healthy attitude about love and marriage and being close to someone will make the child realize that the world isn't full of hate. It's not as tough as it seems to get out of bed every morning.” Monica Bauer, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “There is no relationship more important than the relationship between parent and child. Parents should be there forever, and not just when they are in the birth room.” Justin Lewis, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Dead beat dads: “First of all, I would use my knowledge on the subject (dead beat parents) to put together some type of informal pamphlet. In this pamphlet I would include statistics to project the problem, how fathers can be located and identified as the parent, the measures being taken to prevent parents from not paying, the consequences of those who do not pay, the benefits of paying, and the effects on those children who are not receiving sufficient payment. I would then speak with the Attorney General and the staff at Rice University to try and get the pamphlets reproduced. The funds for this would be from funds set aside at Rice University for purpose of research. I would then have these booklets distributed in high school health classes, during the time that families and child care are discussed. Since the child support crisis effects the well being of the single parents and their children, I believe it would be a reasonable subject to be discussed in the classroom, If people are educated about a problem before they actually become parents, they will be less likely to become a part of the problem.” Amanda Kallstrom, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Not all parents, however, are irresponsible and don't pay child support. My parents have been divorced since 1985. My father started out just like the rest of these deadbeat dads. He didn't pay child support for two years. He then moved into a new house, remarried and began paying double what was needed to make up for back pay. My uncle is also divorced. He religiously pays child support, but also does more. He doesn't only want to


be a check in his child's life. He attends every sporting event, doctor appointment, and even schedules his son's hair appointments. My father's neighbor is also divorced. She not only pays child support and visits her children regularly, she also volunteers at the school and is president of the PTA.” Shannon Enos, Bondurant-Farrar High School, Bondurant, Iowa We saw in the last section that lack of self-esteem often led youngsters to destructive behavior. In the excerpts below the need for self-esteem is reiterated and ways to help children achieve it are offered: “As long as there is love, support, and discipline being enforced, then that's all that matters in a productive up-bringing. Children surrounded by chaos, defeat, unpredictability, and despair are less likely to learn the rules of an orderly universe, develop logical reasoning skills, or believe in their own efficacy.” Suzanne Pollman, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “The family has traditionally determined whether a society fails or thrives. The family is something Americans need to rediscover but, because of its individuality, everyone has to “find family” on his/her own. Once the family reclaims it's responsibility to the youth of America, community, church, and school will also fall into place, and society, as a whole, will be a safer and more peaceful place.” Jenifer Roosevelt, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “Through strengthening the family's sense of responsibility, we will be able to move our nation closer to our goal: a responsible, free society.” Erika Grossell, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “If, at a young age, we can nurture and pay attention to the children, fewer of them will grow up with angry and violent tendencies.” Jason Tenhonen, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “Not only should parents be more involved but teachers should also. Teachers should learn to deal with disruptive children and demonstrate equal treatment to all students while trying to make every student feel special in any way they can. When children receive praise, they feel better about themselves.” Jill Nichols, Luck High School, Luck, Wisconsin “Parents need to teach kids self esteem, respect for themselves and others, how to make responsible decisions, and the impact of their behavior.” Sandy Gunther, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “Once children find that their parents believe in them, their whole self- esteem will change. They then would want to succeed in life, not for their friends or parents.” Brian Preston, Concordia High, Concordia, Kansas “Showing the youth that they are important and that they make a difference could be the first step in stopping a pattern of dehumanization and violence taught by the criminal


justice system, television, and society.” Jenifer Roosevelt, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois Remember the discussion in the previous section that suggested that “too-soft” parents could be a cause contributing to the explosion of crime and violence in our polluted culture? Here then is a way to show the recommended tough love: “Parents need to give their children responsibilities early so they learn the consequences of making the wrong decision. Besides, when the child gets older the consequences are much more severe. So when your children forget to bring homework home do not go get it for them, let them face the consequences and the next time they will not forget. If you do not teach them early, they will learn the hard way when they are older, and no parents want to see that happen to their children....Many parents are distressed because when they do set limits, their kids give them a hard time. If parents can get through the rough times, and empathize with their teenagers' struggles, the rewards will be wonderful.” Roxane Wentzel, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota “Parents need to discipline their children more when they work all day, not less because of fatigue.” Paul Sweat, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “I believe before a couple decides to have children, they should be responsible enough to raise that child and teach him morals and discipline. Discipline must be enforced on children to teach them to be responsible for their actions.” Anne Purfield, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “Lack of responsibility finds its roots in absence of discipline and love from parents..... My opinion of how to produce responsible children is to have responsible parents who love and discipline them. Responsible parents set expectations and rules for their children, follow through with consequences and give explanations of punishments. Parents need to be involved, especially by taking time to talk with their children to understand and sympathize with their feelings. The responsibility of parents is to love and discipline their children so we can have a more responsible nation.” Gina Smith, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington “First, what most kids need is a good challenge. Too much free time is given to too many able hands. One positive activity is community service. For the majority of kids, community service has its rewards in an in- creased sense of social responsibility and self-worth. By giving these kids something to do with their excess time, I believe that apathetic natures would diminish. Teens would see that they can make a difference in someone's life, besides their own. According to one Queens College Big Buddy participant, in which college students are paired with youngsters, and together they spend one day each weekend doing things; 'For so many years I've done absolutely nothing with my life. Now I'm doing something beneficial.' Most kids are hunting for direction. They see the way life is on the streets, and many don't know what else is out there. One way of obtaining a new perspective is for students to hold part-time jobs. Teachers, students, and social scientists all agree that work can


teach discipline, self-respect and efficiency. It can guide students on the verge of dropping out--or into criminality--by keeping them on track of a good job. So if kids are shown that they can make something of themselves by working at a summer or part-time job or by volunteering their afternoons for community service, I believe that there will be a significant decrease in crime, apathy and poor attitudes.” Amy Ziegelmeier, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas And in keeping with the warning in the last section regarding the dangers of being inconsistent, Angie (below) offers assurance: “If the parents already know how they feel and practice it on a regular basis then kids won't be getting mixed messages.” Angie Houghton, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin And perhaps because the problem-solvers were students themselves, the idea of formal parenting-classes was suggested time and again: “Taking parenting classes help parents to learn how to raise responsible children.” Sandy Gunther, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “I believe there should also be a meeting set up at the local schools to help parents with the problems of raising children, a counseling center to teach parents and kids how to communicate with each other. This center will teach parents how to raise their kids to be responsible and to impress in them good morals that can't be broken.” Justus Snyder, Freeman High, Rockford, Washington “How can we make every parent a good one? I think the answer is education. The government must set up parenting programs. They must make every parent go through these classes. Maybe even make a law that requires every parent to attend the classes.” Courtney Trombley, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “I also think it would be a good idea to have speakers go to schools or somewhere where parents can be spoken to about how to make their children more responsible. It wouldn't be something that would tell parents how to raise their kids, but it would give suggestions on how to make their children more responsible.” Ben Nesheim, Newell-Fonda High School, Newell, Iowa “A plausible way of challenging this problem might be to implement a required course teaching the responsibilities of children and families into the curriculum of high school level classrooms. Along with establishing the responsibilities, various ideas could be taught concerning how to deal with and relate to children. I am almost certain that with the establishment of these classes, that over a period of years our nation would begin to see a more responsible attitude towards the development of our children...” Dnate' Baxter, Lubbock-Cooper High School, Lubbock, Texas Every summer we hear about infants who die because of their parents' ignorance. Some people do not realize an unventilated car can become a death trap:


“Mothers are not given care manuals while birthing their children in the hospitals; maybe booklets should be distributed.” Martha Harrison, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “Another plausible solution may be to require parents that have a baby to watch a twohour positive parenting video before leaving the hospital.” John Espinosa, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas Many suggestions were offered concerning parenting. Many were idealistic platitudes from hopeful young people which we hope adult readers will find motivating: “Parents still have the responsibility to shape and mold their children into responsible adults. Parents should spend more time with their children when they are younger, teach them proper behavior, and show love to them. As a result, the child would respect parents and care what they think.” Colleen Hofer, James Valley Christian School, Huron, South Dakota “It is our responsibility as individuals to teach morals, to have morals, and to live by the morals that we have.” Crystal Reed, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “When parents start taking more responsibility for their families, jobs, and each other, maybe the children of the nation will start to believe in the values they are taught.” Heather Stearns, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “A strong moral foundation not only will ease moments of confrontation on the playground but also can give a child the fortitude to resist cheating, drugs, and other serious temptations later.” Shara Bowers, Salem High School, Salem, Missouri “I also feel that if the parents had responsibility then their kids (would) be responsible.” Aaron Thigpen, Valhalla High School, Valhalla , New York “The responsibility of caring for a family and teaching morals lies with parents.... A family needs to be committed to each other and work together to make things work. The responsibility of being a parent is something that takes a lot of planning and careful thinking. The generations today will be responsible for leading America in the future so parents need to be responsible for teaching family values to their children and teaching them to be the best possible human beings. They can then take on all the responsibilities of the world and take care of their own family.” Jessica Hines, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota That's not to say practical hints weren't offered: “We should not hide our problems from our children but we should not make them look as if it is their fault. We need to let them know it is okay if they have a problem.” Wendy Jolliff, Lincoln County High School, Eureka, Montana


Peggy Lynn and Jaime have ideas that if implemented would win them the undying gratitude of many harried parents: “Private agencies need to organize volunteers to be role models for children and parents. A volunteer will stay with a parent or child for six months, and then will be matched with someone else. The parent or child will be given several phone numbers of volunteers in case they need to call and ask for help. The agency will make a personal contact every three months with this family to see how they are progressing.” Peggy Lynn Shipp, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “People don't realize that some people get into situations that they can't get themselves out of. Maybe we can set-up fun things for the children to do. Get them out of the house a while. Or get a baby-sitting club going, and set something up for the parent's to go out and do; maybe a dinner, or dancing, or a movie. To do this you'll need money within the organization---so set-up a fund raiser. You could get these people involved with this too. Have them help set-up the fund raiser; actually have a hands-on type deal. It could be fun for them and a learning experience for us.” Jamie Tesky, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho Heather's except (below) shows the mother was accountable for her son's behavior. This is in contrast to the mother whose son was a member of the Spur Posse, mentioned on page 5. In this sense it is a solution in itself. On the other hand, this excerpt doesn't suggest that parenting classes are effective: “A 37-year-old woman named Gloria Williams was arrested shortly after her 15year-old son was arrested on charges of gang rape. The mother was charged with failure to exercise reasonable care and control of her son. Investigators said they found evidence strongly suggesting that the boy's mother condoned her son's gang activities. The charges were dropped against her when authorities learned that before the incident she had taken parenting classes.” Heather Hicks, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee Justin (below) takes parental accountability to an extreme: “The parents of the children who commit violent crimes would have to serve some of the time that their child has earned.” Justin Tomlinson, Rolla High School, Rolla, North Dakota

Correcting Injustices In Current Law
“I also have a solution. It is very simple. Let's try for once to actually enforce our current laws. So often in our society laws are either not obeyed or not enforced. A person going over the speed limit is not given a ticket or a person sitting on death row is not killed. It is the lack of enforcement and follow through that is the problem.” Scott Lichtenberg, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California “Criminals should have only minimal rights once they have violated someone else's rights. Prisons should not be comfortable and [Rob does not believe] convicts rights are


violated in an 'uncomfortable' prison, because after they become criminals they give up certain rights.” Rob Hubof, Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho “The world is voting for the death penalty, which makes people think twice about what they are doing or are going to do. And it will make sure that if they do commit a crime harsh enough for the penalty nobody will have to worry about that person doing it again.” Gary Reigel, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “If a guilty person is set free and commits another crime who should be punished? The judge? The lawyers? The jury? I do think the government should make punishments against these certain individuals who allow this to happen.” Emily Nicole Levin, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “Currently, capital punishment is more expensive than life sentencing. This is because of the United States Court of Appeals, and the right it gives people on Death Row to appeal their sentences a much as they want to. If these rights were taken away, and these people were quickly executed, capital punishment would easily be cheaper than life sentencing.” John Heinle, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Our government should change the court system so that people can't receive money after they have committed crimes.” Justin Lockwood, Bondurant-Farrar High School, Bondurant, Iowa There are numerous proposals that do what Justin suggests above only on a broader level. For example, freshman congressman from Massachusetts, Peter Torkildsen, proposed a bill that would prevent prisoners from receiving government checks while incarcerated. (Social Security checks are no longer sent to prisoners.) Still another proposal to consider: Why not allow injured parties the amount of money necessary to compensate for actual documented losses (hospital bills, lost wages etc.). Continue to allow awards for pain and suffering and awards meant to punish and discourage other potential wrong-doers, but direct those awards to a special fund to reduce government debt. That way a victim's misfortune will not be a way to get rich at taxpayers expense, yet the guilty party will be forced to pay a high price for his/her negligence. Taxpayer's have been getting the tab for everyone's misfortune; maybe it's time for them to take a share of the gain. They deserve it. “A solution to crime already has already been instituted in Washington state. It is called the 'three strikes' policy... The principle behind the policy is that criminals convicted of a felony over three separated occasions are automatically sentenced to life imprisonment.” Chris Jensen, Freeman HS, Rockford, Washington The three strikes policy that Chris referred to above, is part of the proposed federal crime bill which also provides for stiffer penalties, restricted paroles and $1.9 billion


for social programs to alleviate the conditions that are thought to promote crime, as Chris points out as he continues below: “Yet another example of an intended solution is that of anti-parole legislation. At a private workshop in Washington, D.C., four big-city mayors gathered to discuss the rising crime problems in their cities and proposed initiative action to produce bills that would limit the entire parole system. The premise of their meeting is also the foundation of another possible solution: organized inner-city coalitions. Under this system, representatives from major cities would meet and discuss strategies for eliminating crime in their respective areas. One of the many solutions discussed at the aforementioned meeting was the improvement of housing for lower class citizens. Poverty and despair are two major reasons for crime.” Chris Jensen, Freeman High , Rockford, Washington Recently in San Jose, California, a dozen homeless people worked several hours to clean an abandoned house owned by a mortgage company. They attempted to take it over and were arrested for their effort. The same thing happened several years ago in New York City. This might seem cruel and senseless to Chris and other students, but it has to do with private property rights, a concept that lies at the very foundation of our country. There are numerous reasons for homelessness. Lack of affordable housing is only one and it is exacerbated by excessive regulations. Senator Dole is the sponsor of a private property bill which would require impact assessments for any federal regulation or guideline to determine if it would reduce the value of private property. The bill would require a government agency to examine alternatives that do not reduce property values. Opponents of the legislation claim the bill could cost at least $150 million and could disrupt farm programs like marketing orders, disaster assistance and the conservation reserve program and commodity support program.

“If we create a good school system children will succeed. The spiritual exposure that founded this country will provide the children with faith in themselves.” Erik Russell, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “The only way we can make a change in our country is if everyone gets involved, and the most influential place to start is the schools. Here, the teachers should show the importance of responsibility and how it has such a great effect on society. Hopefully in this way the upcoming generations will take responsibility in everything they do.” Katie Wettstein, Eureka, High School, Eureka, Illinois Hopefully! It is apparent that Erik and Katie are optimists. “Too many teachers are not prepared with instructions on how to deal with disruptive students and how to break up fights before they end in murder. School systems can help stop the violence cycle by identifying fight-prone children when they are young and introduce them to non-violent alternatives. Other ways schools can help are: offering peer


mediation, clear- cut standards, consistent discipline, ways to instill basic values of right and wrong, and to teach young people to respect themselves and others. However, it is the parent's responsibility to begin these lessons at home. Children absorb the behavior accepted by their parents and also by the community to which the family belongs. If a child grows up in a community where citizenship is taken seriously and people work together to improve conditions, the children get the feeling of obligation to the neighborhood as well as the family.” Lori Wicklund, Luck High School, Luck, Wisconsin “Schools need to take more care in hiring teachers. They need teachers who are not afraid to talk about race relations, guy/girl relations, and moral values. The question of whose values are to be used has nothing to do with religion, because if parents are doing their part, the schools can work on a broader base.” Heather Stearns, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois The trouble is we know parents do not always “do their part”! A Gallup Youth Survey found that only seventeen percent of teens felt attendance at church on a regular basis was of little or no importance. Even though the Foundation is generally adverse to statistics that break down behavior in terms of race, age or sex, in this instance so many people were surprised by the additional breakdown that we are going against our own policy and including Gallup's finding that sixty-four percent of non-white teens found church attendance important v forty-seven percent of white teens. What these figures said to some of us is that the people who are most often criticized by the rest of society, and who have to endure the brunt of the violence and decay in our country, may be the ones who are trying the most valiantly to raise the standards of their own families and communities. Maybe they not only need, but would welcome and deserve some outside help. Many students suggested in the papers submitted to the Foundation that religion, values and responsibility go hand in hand: “I think that the state should let religion back in the schools...” Matthew Grandon, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas “[I would] allow students to discuss their religion with other students and students who perhaps know no religion. [I would] have classroom discussions of problems that students face at home. [I would] allow teachers to discuss their morals and values, even when they don't agree with the parents' morals and values.” Jeremy Wyatt, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “A values program could be introduced into the educational system. It would be free from religious prejudice. Ð This program could include a 'code of ethics' to be followed by the teachers. ...This could eventually develop into a nation-wide program entitled E.V.E. (Encouraging Values Everywhere).” Sara Peterson, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


“By implementing new and better programs that teach respect, tolerance, responsibility, and honesty, this country will better prepare the future generations.” Rebecca P. Moore, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas “Within a school environment, children can be exposed to 'value education'. This is an idea that schools can reinforce the importance of such virtues as honesty and being trustworthy. The result of such a program would be that children will acquire information that will help them make responsible decisions, therefore they will become better citizens in their own communities.” Michelle R. Gannon, Rock Hill Senior High, Ironton, Ohio Kelli (below) advocates more action and less talk: “School is a place where morals and values should be exercised and not taught. Kids are expected to be on time, respect their elders, and allot their time wisely in order to finish homework. When these basic principles are not taught in the home, they cannot be exercised in the school.” Kelly Shehi, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “Thirty-five years ago school reform was spurred by exaggerated fears of Soviet scientific advancement. More recently American concern has centered on economic competition from Japan and Germany. These insecurities stem from global ratios of test scores and competitions. Why does it not stem from a sense of morals and duties? If the classroom is to be reformed then one has to start with the beliefs of the kids and go from there. What good is education if the children do not believe in it? Many educators say that there is a group of basic beliefs—tolerance, honesty, respect, diligence that belongs in the classroom. Even educators who welcome the return to values believe there is a limit to what the classroom can accomplish. In the face of poverty, family instability, and social disorganization, parents want schools to fill a 'values vacuum'.” Stephanie Renee French, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “I think that schools should start teaching a lot more ethics in classes.” Ryan J Csaftis, Phoenix, High School, Phoenix, Oregon Students were well aware that what they were advocating was controversial: “Many people become irritated when teaching values in school is mentioned. Issues on race and religion are very touchy due mostly to the social revolutions of the 1960's. Up until then educators felt very comfortable about teaching ethics. But in today's society it would be considered absurd. There are too many cultures and different standards of morality. Teaching tolerance and honesty is a solution to this ethical gridlock, for these are basic beliefs. We can also study the past; this way people can see the error of human nature and draw their own conclusions.” Ryan L. Moore, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “People should try to live by principle. The main source of this is religion. Culture sets standards and values that everyone in it must follow. Schools have a tough time teaching this because of the U.S. Constitution and because of parents complaining about teaching


their child different principles than their religion or non-religion offers. Children need precise rules, values and standards. Without these, they do not know what is expected from them and how they are supposed to act.” Mandi Countryman, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “Values should also be taught in the classroom.... My mother, a math teacher of ten years, tries to include values in her lessons. They may range from whether or not to return lost money to dealing with suicidal children. Value lessons should be taught as early as Kindergarten, when children are easier to influence in the ways of right and wrong.” Keli Crane, Blue Ridge High, Blue Ridge, Texas “We can not always be taking advantage of each other when we get the chance. We need schools where solid values can be taught through child- hood into adulthood. Society needs reinforcement of character and values in homes, public institutions, movies, and television.” Justin Johnson, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington The next excerpt may be even more controversial than those dealing with religion, values and ethics: “At a time when many parents are unwilling to help their children, the schools should take over.” Jill Hayhurst, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Of course many people do not want the schools to take over. But skipping that discussion for the time being, it is a fact that many parents find it difficult to discuss sex with their children, and that was what Jill (above) had in mind. “Educating teenagers about sexual activity is the most direct way to control teenage pregnancy.” Carie Mitchell, Camden High, Camden, Tennessee Carrie is correct. Unfortunately schools are left to fill in for reluctant parents. As you would imagine, students had many concrete proposals in this area—the first group involves parents: “The first step needs to be the education of parents. In order to accomplish this, [incentives] may have to be used. For example, if the parents attend an educational meeting and promote abstinence, then they receive a reduction on school fees. In educating the parents, show them statistics, tell them the effect it [teen pregnancy] has on children, and tell them what they need to do about it. The second step should be the education of children. Tell them the problem and show them the statistics in a tactful, but friendly manner. Use their language and get them involved and excited about changing towards abstinence. Use examples, music, acting, and language to get through to them. Finally have TV promote abstinence through programs and commercials.” Sara Knobloch, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois


“Another way to help teach the truth about sex is to have the parents talk to their kids first. My mother was very shy about talking about those kinds of things. I wish she would have been able to be the one I talked to, but I found out most the things from friends and television. And most of those things turned out to be false. I think classes should be provided, if not mandatory for parents to attend. Simple classes that teach the basics; how to talk to your child about sex, what kinds of things they need to know and are curious about. Also, once kids start understanding that they do not have to engage in it just because they think it's better for their age, the problem will start shaping up. It used to be uncouth for teenagers to have sex, now it is used for a status symbol. The youth of today has to be shown that you can achieve, and not 'put-out'.” Sasha Mshar, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “Make birth control readily available, and inexpensive. Make more teen clinics where teens can go and ask questions, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I think that condoms should be available for students at school when they need [them]. Most of all we need to educate our that the school doesn't need to take on the full responsibility of educating the youth.” Tracey Weiss, Pioneer High, San Jose, California “I would have a health class make and send out flyers to all parents of teenagers telling them the statistics of teens having sex, to try and convince parents that statistics show that their teens are having sex. In the flyers it would tell the parents that if they have a hard time talking to their kids about sex, that the health class is holding seminars and has videotapes and brochures. This would be a nationwide health class project. Each school would make up their own flyers and brochures and hold their own seminars. They would get their information from magazines and teenage pregnancy organizations. Included in the brochures, videotapes and seminars would also be a list of places parents could get their teenagers effective birth control. Hopefully this will get the parents to talk to their teenagers in an understanding manner.” Liz Harrison, Strasburg High School, Strasburg, Colorado In the excerpt below Danielle makes a very persuasive point: “Teens will continue having sex with, or without, education. With a strong educational program, at least the majority of teens will know that safe sex is their only chance for a healthy life. My proposed program is called S.A.F.E., standing for Sex Awareness and Family Education. S.A.F.E. would consist of three main topics: (1) sex- the dangers; (2) contraception; and (3) abstinence and virginity. The sex portion would deal with the diseases and the possibility of pregnancy involved in the process.” Danielle Bngowatz, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “I know a lady who became pregnant when she was a senior in high school. Now she wishes she would have been told and taught how a child would change her life. Maybe if she would have been taught everything about sex, maybe it would have changed her decision about having sex.” Jeanne Johnke, Centerville High, Centerville, South Dakota


“I also think marriage and parenting classes should be required in high schools today. Students are required to have so many credits in math, history, English, and science to graduate. Why shouldn't schools require some important classes that would be extremely useful for almost all students living in the world today? Maybe with classes such as that, parents would be more responsible and careful before doing something that may change their whole life.” Tandi Vannatta, Froid High School, Froid, Montana Important classes eh? Many adults may be amused that Tandi implies “math, history, English and science” are possibly unimportant. We included the next three excerpts because they made us chuckle. The first bits of humor were due to typos, but we almost felt guilty for even smiling at Richard's plight: “I believe birth control should be more excess able to teenagers.” Dawn Eddy, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin “More than out of a physical need, teens are having sex because they are uneducated, unloved, and unaware of society's moral coed.” Ryana Severance, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “Condoms are expensive to constantly purchase, especially for a teenager making minimum wage.... To stop sex is a task that is extremely difficult, so before trying to teach total abstinence, teach protection.” Richard Cioll, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania Unfortunately the excerpts below are far from humorous: “I think that we should also try to start more sex education courses in schools that would also inform the students about the problems that can be associated with teen pregnancies such as : parents kicking their child out of the house once they find out that they are pregnant, the lack of money for doctor appointments, hospital bills, and raising the child, their boyfriend breaking up with them and refusing to help with the baby, and any medical problems that may occur during or after the pregnancy. I also think that the school counselor in each school should have group sessions where teenage girls can talk about pressure that they might have from their peers about having sexual intercourse and about the desire they might feel for having a baby so that they would feel needed. ...I also think that all schools should have condom machines in the boy's and girl's bathrooms so that teenagers can get one whenever they may need one.” Angella Carmen Pinson, LaCrosse High School, LaCrosse, Washington “To help today's young people to understand that the disease does affect them, I feel it should be mandatory for every high school classroom in the country, to either visit an Aids ward at a local hospital, or invite a teenager infected with the virus to talk to the class. This would truly bring the message home, that the virus can affect everyone.” David Stucker, Hanover High School, Hanover, New Hampshire


“Also schools don't like the idea of condoms being available in schools but this is very important. They should think about how many former students' names they will be reading in the obituaries because they [deceased students] contracted the Aids virus.” Trisha Olson, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin Students did have a few proposals for education not directly related to sex: “I propose that grade schools should include a section in care for the environment that goes along with the regular Earth Science course. A group of students could 'adopt' a stream or pond and maintain it throughout the school year. To raise any money they needed for the project, they could sponsor fishing derbies or tennis ball races in streams. Instead of just talking about the pH of fresh water, the students could go to a local stream or pond and measure it themselves. If the students realize how important our fresh water supply is, and learn some ways to maintain it now, then they will be less likely to pollute and waste it in their later years.” Alexander S. Brown, South Kent High School, South Kent, Connecticut “When people educate themselves, they open doors to opportunity.... Special schools should be provided for those who are older.” Shelly Douglas, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas It's doubly hard for a drop out to return to school and sit among the younger kids in his neighborhood. Minnesota has an incentive program which allows drop outs who want to have another go at education to attend a high school outside their district. In its first year (1987) close to 8,000 former drop outs enrolled. “When I asked my mother who she thought was more important, the parents or the teachers, she gave me a poem called Unity to read. The poem compared the parent and teacher as equal sculptors; one used books and art while the other used a loving heart. The last two lines put into perspective the importance and equality between the two. Each agreed they would have failed if each had worked alone, for behind the parent stood the school and behind the teacher, the home. –Author Unknown” Ryan L. Moore, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois Advice for teachers: “I believe [the job of] teachers is to make their subject interesting and intriguing to the students in their classes.... How a teacher teaches can determine whether a child continues his/her education and the field or career they choose.” Allecia Finley, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “Finally I would make sure teachers send home flyers and letters of encouragement.” Amy Fritsch, Iowa-Grant High School, Livingston, Wisconsin


Advice for parents: “Teach your children to respect people. But to do this you must respect your children. Treat them as equal human beings when they become mature. Treat them as children only when they are children. Help your children to become independent. Do not just feed, bathe and house your children. Love them and teach them to love everything and everybody around them. The best way to teach these things to your children is through example. Show them through your own actions the right things.” Troy Leroy Reed, Jr., Ramsey High School, Ramsey, Illinois “If a five year old child finger paints on the wall, have them clean the wall. That would be a lesson of 'You mess it up, you clean it up!' I learned this lesson when I was young and now take care of my own messes. But parents must care and have patience, otherwise the children won't. Responsibility must begin in the home.” Christina Smith, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “Of students making mostly A's in high school, seventy-five percent reported talking with a parent nearly every day, compared to forty-five percent among students making.... This support and caring for a child's education needs to begin early in life, so that by the time the high school years come, the pattern is set... Education is the first building block for a young person's future as a responsible citizen. Educating today's youth has to be a team effort. Through cooperating and communicating, parents and teachers can make a difference.” Michelle Proberts, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “It is vital that a positive attitude toward learning be cultivated in young people. Parents can try to create a balance in their child's life and counteract his negative attitude about learning by getting involved in the academic and social community of the school. It is common for elementary schools to have programs for parental involvement. By junior high such programs do not exist. If one does not exist, get parents together and start one. Another way to get involved is to volunteer as a teacher's aide. For example, if a parent is a lawyer then he or she could organize a pretend trial to help students understand more about the law and the judicial system. By doing this a parent can lessen the effect of negative peer attitudes. In the absence of parental involvement, the peer group becomes all the more powerful. Parents need to take a bigger role in their child's education. All schools should set up a program for parents so that they can learn about what their children are doing. This way the parents could help the child at home. These programs should be offered at times when parents are off from work. The schools should keep in contact with the parents and viceversa. If parents and schools can work together, then the child's education will be that much better. The teachers and parents both have a responsibility that is shared at school and home, which is the advancement of the children.” Stephanie Renee French, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “School can help children a lot, but without the parents' help and support, any school effort to help the kids won't be nearly as effective. This is why I think a big step should


be to combine home life with school life in a way that includes parents. Every homework assignment or school activity should include something for parents to participate in, whether it is questions that require answers from both parents and students, or just a line at the bottom of worksheets for a signature from mom or dad.” Leah Wilkerson, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “Many still feel that school, family, and church should have equal responsibility in raising children, but the latter two have become weakened and schools have been expected to make up for that.... Mandatory parent-teacher conferences...would be especially helpful at the high school level. Often...the only time a conference takes place is when the student has done something wrong and prior to graduation. Many parents do not know how or what their child is doing in school beyond looking at the report card. Parents aren't encouraged to stay involved in their child's life after flash cards. A solution would be to make parents meet with school officials at least twice a year. These meetings would serve as a time for parents to be informed on what would be covered during the school year. School officials could be notified of anything that might help the student's performance in school. The meeting could be a time where both the parents and the school officials could commend each other and express complaints. Appointments would be made directly with the parents who would again feel needed in their children's lives.” Jenifer Roosevelt, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “It is proven that parent involvement in school increases student success, thus making more productive citizens.” Michael Hutchison, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas Jenifer (above) should be delighted to know that it will soon be easy to stay involved in a child's life “after flash cards.” The National Governor's Association held its annual meeting in Boston in July, 1994. South Carolina's Governor Carroll Campbell, Jr. played a large part in a presentation featuring the information superhighway. Students whose excerpts we printed above, would have been especially interested in the segment that showed that parents in the near future would be able to keep tabs on their children's progress at school via inexpensive personal home computers. A parent was shown in a kitchen setting late at night having a snack while listening to his child's teacher talk about homework assignments, test scores and upcoming events. Examples of the student's art work appeared on the computer screen as well as a view of the child himself, who could be heard reading during class. The parent pressed a key and was able to pull up his child's attendance record and grades. Messages between parent and teacher could be sent by E-mail at any time, day or night, to be retrieved at the receiver's convenience. The illiteracy issue that was mentioned as a cause of social decay in the last section was tackled in several of the essays the Foundation reviewed in the spring of 1994:


“I believe that if a system of testing similar to the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing took place in every school in the nation as a prerequisite for graduation, our country's literacy would be dramatically increased.” Rebecca Rothberg, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota Students also addressed the scarcity of public resources, another cause discussed in the last section. Cindy's proposal (below) manages to provide job training while at the same time cutting school custodial and administration expenses: “For non-college bound students, job skills should be offered. Many tasks around the school could be given to students [so they could] earn both credit and job experience. Morning announcements could be typed by a student, along with other secretarial tasks. A teacher's-aide class could be offered [and] students could work at local businesses during study halls. These few ideas could be used at any school and could offer students a start in their future.” Cindy Bonn, Rolla High School, Rolla, North Dakota Nancy (below) wants students to value their education. Variations of her idea have been used successfully and for many years by a large number of private schools. They also happen to cut costs. However we suspect that many people will think Nancy's proposal, as written, carries frugality a bit too far: “There are numerous ways people are trying to make education better. I feel as though students take education for granted. Students know that they have to be educated. It's a right, not a privilege. We need to let students know it's a privilege to go to school. Students who really want to learn shouldn't be interrupted by the disruptive students. Students need to understand why education is so important. I feel we can achieve this by having students pay for their education through work programs or something similar. For instance, if a student wants to take six courses he has do three jobs around the school. Jobs could include grading papers for teachers, sorting mail for the office, or helping the janitor do a job. When students buy the one hundred dollar Nike's, they take care of them. So if students had to pay for their education, wouldn't they value that also?” Nancy Graff, Strasburg High School, Strasburg, Colorado A more extreme position was expressed by a caller to KGO, a San Francisco talkradio station. The gentleman suggested that the parents of students dismissed for bad behavior pay the money that is taken from a school when their children are absent. The caller suggested the $40/day (varies) be added to the parent's income tax bill or deducted from their welfare checks.

Any readers who have seen the movie Logan's Run (people are liquidated when they reach age 30) might share the relief we experienced upon reading Aimee's first line in the excerpt reproduced below: “I think that we need to start with the adults that we have today. We need to hold seminars in companies and businesses to talk about the problem of irresponsibility. If the adults are irresponsible, then chances are they are going to raise their child


irresponsibly.” Aimee Hunter, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas We also think Melanie has chutzpah: “More people need to believe the way I believe.” Melanie Grassi, Marion High School, Marion, South Dakota We wonder what's going on with Andy: “I would get a security system for my house so my kids will not sneak out to go to a party. Every week I would evaluate their rooms to check for any trace of drugs. When they would go out I would have them come back at twelve and I would stay up to make sure they came home alright.” Andy P. Gray, Hoonah High School, Hoonah, Alaska PROPOSALS FOR BETTER COMMUNITIES Students were encouraged to tackle whatever social problem captured their imagination. In the following excerpt, Andrew explains his program for controlling health-care costs. Some of it is reminiscent of the earliest Clinton health plans: “I think we should establish a small hospital system that would be controlled by the separate state governments. It would be federal law that each state would have to have the system. Any claims brought into court would be sent to that hospital and would be paid by the state.... [Only bills from the state designated hospital could be submitted] by the person making the insurance claim. If the injuries could be [healed]...the hospital would get paid and the victim would [submit a bill for wages lost]. We would have to stop all these mental suffering claims. If a person was affected mentally by something, money would not fix it anyway. If we do away with all the foolishness and games we should be able to deter people from fraud.” Andrew R. Schertz, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois Anthony tackles consumer ethics: “Many consumers obtain illegal copies of software from friends. These people are known as software pirates. The pirates refuse to take responsibility for the proliferation of illegal copies with the excuse that the software is too expensive and too under-powered. If you had a chance to borrow a copy of an $800 software package, you would probably do it. The software producers also refuse to take responsibility with the excuse that the prices are so high because of the proliferation of illegal copies. At first software companies tried to combat this problem by implementing some form of copy protection. Some of them just prevented consumers from easily making honest backup copies, but some were vicious, destroying files on your computer. Copy protection has only proven to inconvenience and alienate the honest consumers, and done little to thwart the dishonest software pirates. I think the only way for this problem to be resolved is for consumers to start saying No! to their friends when they ask to borrow a copy of their software. The software companies must also do their part too, by making better software at a more


affordable price.” Anthony L. Mabes, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas What do you think of Barbie's idea below? “It would be really hard to try to solve homelessness but I think we can do more to put a damper on it. Maybe the school could get together with some businesses in town and make a contract with them to sponsor a child in that school. Every time that student receives an A on his or her report card the business could donate food, clothes, or money to the homeless. It would give students a little more to think about when striving on their homework. Maybe it would make them appreciate how lucky they are to be doing it in a nice warm house!” Barbie Eaton, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho We think Sarah is on the right track—uh, trail: “As a solution to the bike accident I described earlier, I think the city should think about putting in some bike trails downtown where they now prohibit bikes on sidewalks. Just prohibiting bike riding on the sidewalk would prevent accidents like the young boy had [he ran into an elderly lady on the sidewalk] but it could lead to further injury if they [youngsters] are forced to ride on the streets.... Our local high school Ag program could aid in the planning and the actual building of the bike trails. This would provide a good experience for the students and benefit the city as well.” Sarah Hanson, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota “Since America's future depends on the teenagers,… if they are rewarded for their responsible actions, others may become more responsible.” Stephanie Koch, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania “For example, a girl in Oklahoma was unable to get this assistance [welfare] for several reasons. She was still living at home with her father who earned too much income. If she had gone out on her own, quit school, got a low paying job or sat at home, she would have received this help....I think the availability of this money should be limited in amount and for an appropriate amount of time. Repayment of the money should be a requirement. I feel the same way with the teenage girls who receive assistance. Their money should be paid back over time.” Sarah Flanagan, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma Under President Clinton's proposed welfare-reform, program job training and child care would be available to single mothers for up to two years. If the recipient did not have a job by the end of that period they would be required to seek a job in the private sector or take one provided in the public sector. The plan is to start with welfare recipients who would be age 24 or younger in 1996. “Americans must help themselves before they can be helped by anyone else. Individuals must take on responsibilities for restoring family values, community pride, and respect for one another. It is this personal responsibility which is the foundation of moral


character, and perhaps the only way to save this great society from total destruction.” Kristi Clemons, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Disability payments may inadvertently make destructive activity possible. There are numerous stories about how the proceeds of government checks are used for fraternity parties, or to promote drunken orgies and drug abuse. Congressman Torkildsen of Massachusetts has proposed a bill that would prevent government checks, SDI (survivors’ disability insurance) for instance, from going to prisoners. In the last section we promised a suggestion showing how the disability-payment fiasco can be solved without raising taxes to provide more policing of the already abused system. The idea is to have local volunteer organizations receive the disability checks of addicts. Instead of sending government checks to the addict him/herself, or to a family member who may not be able to deny the addict, or to a corner liquor store that would have a vested interest, the checks would go to a group of respected community leaders who would voluntarily assume a fiduciary duty to see that the funds were not used to feed addictive habits. There is no doubt our society is crying out for more social programs, but many taxpayers are already working 60 hour weeks just to stay even. Taxpayers cannot continue to live on less and less of their earnings. Since government can't afford enough overseers [social workers and probation officers] the independent sector could pick up this slack. Entire communities could be divided into manageable areas where desired services could be discussed and pro bono providers encouraged. Everyone realizes that entitlement spending is the nation's nemesis. (Entitlements = Medicaid, Medicare, poverty programs which include AFDC, SSI, SDI, federal retirement pensions and interest on the national debt.) In 1994 there was another 22 percent increase which translates to an additional $160 billion earmarked unequivocally for entitlement spending. Under current law (summer 1994) entitlements are expected to grow an additional 34 percent between now and fiscal year 1999 (October 1998). The FY 1994 budget allowed for $727 in entitlement spending. The $764 billion budgeted for FY 1995 will become $1.2 trillion by FY 1999 unless drastic measures are taken soon. By the year 2003 entitlements will account for 70 percent of the federal budget, rising to 100 percent of the take by 2030. Of course “the take” will rise. In fact taxes will have to double or programs will have to be cut in half. Legislation proposed by Congressman John Kasich of Ohio, would take entitlements off automatic-pilot and subject them to the same review and reallocation that discretionary programs are subjected to every year. The Foundation suggests teachers educate their students about the budget process. We can provide referrals, books and teaching aids for any teacher who is interested.


Budget-control legislation is debated continuously on Capitol Hill, but as the kids say, the time for talk is over. It's time to remember that it is their future that is in jeopardy. I was in Berkeley in 1968 when Robert Kennedy told University students something that should be repeated for students today: You are a generation which is coming of age at one of the rarest moments of history—a time when all around us is crumbling. You have the challenge to lighten and enrich the lives of all those around you. In your hands—not with the current leaders—is the future of your world and the fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit. Unfortunately the crumbling Robert Kennedy referred to, continued. That deterioration posed a challenge that the parents of today's generation failed to meet. That challenge lurks today in a more malignant form for their children.

Don't Force Volunteers
“I feel schools should not force their students to participate in Community Service projects…. After all, if something is mandatory, you are not a volunteer.” Jamie Adams, Newell-Fonda High School, Newell, Iowa The new Domestic Peace Corps known as AmeriCorps, was started by the governmentsponsored, taxpayer-funded Corporation for National and Community Service. AmeriCorp was to hire 7,000 students in fifty-seven communities beginning in the summer of 1994 with the program expected to expand to 20,000 workers over the course of its first year. On the Monterey Peninsula, the home of the Harry Singer Foundation, twenty young people were hired to open 100 miles of trails in a closed military base (Ft. Ord) for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The students here receive $4.25 an hour plus $4,725 towards college tuition. The funds for the Ft. Ord participants are contributed as follows: $250,000 from the federal AmeriCorp program, $150,000 from the California Conservation Corps and $100,000 from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Many federal agencies received funds to hire students. In addition to the more than one thousand volunteers that California will be allowed to hire to perform tasks such as tutoring students and working in child care centers, the Environmental Protection Agency will have fifteen students conduct solid waste education programs on Indian Reservations and seventy volunteers will work with the disabled through the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Mother of All Solutions
“I found the solution in an essay by Robert Fulgrum. Here is the solution. 'Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your on mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and


sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all LOOK. These are the steps to solving any problem.' Put simply, my solution is two steps. Make everyone read All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. Then make them live by it.” Amber L. Gillenwater, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “The last suggestion is to show and give our children what they really want. Love.” Patrick A. Sampson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas

Section IV
Fear does not decrease in direct proportion to the decrease in crime rates. Perception is half the battle. On August 2, 1994 across the nation citizens turned on their lights to fight crime. It was a symbolic gesture that offered hope and showed solidarity and determination. “In downtown Spokane students from Saint Patrick's School marched and prayed. This vigil was held to recognize street kids and downtown residents who are afraid to walk outside alone. The students' slogan was Wake up Spokane. Protect our children.” Shanna Mabie, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “The Good Disciples...go around policing the suburbs and take charge of the streets. They are granted some authority by the state to arrest and imprison gangsters who break the law. The group members are aged eighteen and upwards. It is in effect a gang trying to stop a gang, without the guns and violence.” Justin Lewis, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin The citizens of Salinas, California are attacking crime on a block by block basis. Block captains are given direct lines to city and county staff to report neighborhood problems. Two uniformed police patrol targeted neighborhoods on bicycles. The city is seeking government funding but started the program with $7,000 in seed money donated by the local Rotary club. “In Irvine, California Police Chief Charles Brobeck says officers blanket a local park on weekends at times when suspected gang members show up. The visibility of officers

reduces drug dealing and other crime, so arrest is often not necessary.” Chris Brown, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “In Washington...judges now send about 5,000 [juveniles] a year to neighborhood citizen committees. These meet with the juveniles and parents, prescribe counseling, educational help, and punishments. In 1991 penalties averaged 12 hours of community service, and $120 in restitution.” Keri Wiatrek, Falls City High School, Falls City, Texas “About half of New Haven's police officers have been trained to go on call to a crime scene, hospital, or precinct to comfort any children who may have witnessed a violent act such as murder. This way, the children aren't overwhelmed by the exposure to violence.” Stephanie Wilson, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “A program targeted towards controlling crime in Salem, Oregon is called a Youth Services Team. This approach involves spotting troubled children and helping them early.” Chris Brown, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas Early? So far no one is advocating Americans go as far as the four year old Welsh boy who called the police asking them for help. It seems his mom insisted he finish his dinner before eating his dessert. He wanted the police to come out and mediate— “straighten out the mess” with his mom. His parents put a lock on the phone. We keep searching for ways to make rehabilitation efforts successful. We want to get it right. We desperately need to succeed in this effort in order to avoid the alternatives. “Instead of sending the offenders to prison, they now [can choose] to be sent to boot camp. This [not] only gives them a 'military-style shock incarceration' program of 3 to 6 months, it also entails programs that include substance-abuse treatment [and teach them] how to persuade a prospective employer to hire them despite their prison record.” Kara Krauskopf, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Texas Key is the name of a program that has centers in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. It is offered as an alternative to large detention centers that operate more like prisons. Staff members at the Key centers say [their] programs are tailored to the individual and allow a person to succeed where other facilities have failed.” Shane Nichols, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas Schools are not ignoring the violence: “Of all teenagers surveyed at a local Florida high school, one-fourth admitted to carrying a weapon the month prior. In reaction to such horrifying statistics the community has established a program called Safe Schools, Safe Communities.... The program will allow $624,833 in federal grants to reach the school districts of Florida helping them to tie links between local schools and police. Such a program makes a prime example of the ladder


effect associated with responsibility. When the first notch of the ladder slips the family, the responsibility moves down to the schools. When that notch slips the responsibility descends even lower to the communities.” Angela Fletcher, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma “George Sam, an ex-cop, created SAFE: Schools Are for Education, to clear guns from Chicago schools.” Jenifer Roosevelt, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “At Lincoln Elementary School in San Bernardino, California, 'Kids Against Crime' teaches kids how to protect themselves and prevent crime. Kids are the ones who teach and it offers a national hot line, a drop-in center, and crime-prevention training. Membership has grown to 4700 worldwide.” Amy Severson, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “Walter Annenberg, a publisher, recently pledged $500,000,000 to improve public education. He fears that the violence in schools today is going to ruin America's future. He pledged the money to improve schools all across America. He has also challenged other people to join him and help fight the violence. The violence in public schools today has caused a major decline in education. Annenberg is hoping to improve this problem and eventually put an end to it.” Mary Conway, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “A task force appointed by the California governor has made recommendations for increasing security in the state's public schools. California's administrators and teachers have to be trained in school crime prevention and safety procedures along with meeting many other requirements. In Oakland, California, schools now practice a 'bullet drill,' in which they move away from windows and crouch under their desks.” Michael Kline, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “Education Secretary Richard Riley has sent Congress two bills that would help educators in their Get Tough crusade. The first: the safe schools act that cleared its first congressional hurdle last month will provide one hundred and seventy million dollars to school systems trying to beef up security. The second will launch long term funding beginning in 1995.” Shannon Harrah, Meadow Bridge High School, Meadow Bridge, West Virginia “The Clinton administration recently weighed in with its own plan for a $75 million 'safe schools' fund to help education develop violence-prevention programs.” Larry Scott Graddy, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas The President wants to provide more police and greater opportunities for young people to obtain a higher education at the same time: “Bill Clinton has just proposed a new program which is called Good Cops for Less. This plan states that selected high school students have their college education paid for and in return they serve four years on a police force. This might turn out ok, but these selected


people have to be dedicated, and not just slack off. Some of the kids might just join to get a free college education; if that's the case then this program will be a total failure.” Mike Gagliardi, South Kent High School, South Kent, Connecticut Crime is a problem on college campuses too: “In June of 1990, the House of Representatives passed the Student Right to Know and Campus Act that requires all institutions that receive federal aid to publish yearly statistics of crime for their campuses and to let women know of the dangers.” Jenna Freeman, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington Child abuse, discussed in the first section, is perhaps the most contemptible sign of our nation's decay. The Civitas Initiative is a program linking law and psychology in an effort to combat child abuse. At the Civitas Child Law Center, law students go on ride-alongs with police and spend time with social workers and emergency-room physicians. At the Baylor College of Medicine, psychiatric residents and psychology students attend law classes and juvenile court proceedings. The goal is to train a new kind of professional capable of dealing with this shameful problem.

“A group of gang members form inner city Minneapolis went to Los Angeles to meet with members from other cities to discuss the problem of gang violence. They went as a part of United For Peace, a program that involves gang members from all around trying to work together and do something good for the community. The gangs work together to try to stop the violence and create jobs for black men. During the visit the gang members went to movie star Jim Brown's mansion to discuss this program. The City is a non-profit organization working with inner city kids and their families. The City also works for economic development. The group already offers security services and may try to design a line of clothing representing peace.” Scott Arthur Grabe, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “T. Rogers, who founded the L.A. gang, the Bloods, and who began the bloodshed between the Bloods and Crips, is currently working on reversing the problem he began. He revisits schools that he tormented and tells overcrowded auditoriums about the 'blood, sweat, and tears' of gangbanging. He has also joined forces with ex-football great, Jim Brown. Together the have opened up gang-rehab programs nationwide.” Patrick A. Sampson, Concordia High School, Concordia, Kansas “The man helped teens stay out of gangs by getting involved with them on the personal level. To remember those who fell, he paints a remembrance symbol on the spot sidewalk where the child's life was taken.” Jennifer Artemis Carr, Aubrey High School, Aubrey, Texas “In Seattle, rival gang members are becoming peacemakers at Cleveland High School. They are known as The Council and they represent a half dozen ethnicities and more than a dozen rival groups. They care about what happens to their surrounding environment and


know it’s up to them to take action.” Shanna Mabie, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “The parents and teachers have put up with gang colors, clothing and fights long enough. Starting in September 1994-95 school year, the students will wear uniforms... This new idea will also cut down on expenses of normal clothes.” Kerri Frankling, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California A retired attorney was responsible for the start of the Conflict Resolution and Mediation Center of Monterey County which handles all sorts of conflict resolution free of charge to people with low to moderate incomes. The mediators are carefully trained community volunteers. Eighty-seven to eighty-nine percent of the approximately 1,200 cases processed each year by the volunteers ends in settlement. The center receives funds through private grants and contracts with the county and cities whose courts they unclog. They work frequently with gangs. The administrator was quoted, “We're like the Patriot Missile. We go in, we resolve that one issue and then we're back out of it.” Gangs like mediation because it is their choice—force is not used to get them to come together. The director of a local gang prevention program called Second Chance, received training from the Center. Although mediation has improved relations, it has not eliminated all confrontation. Local churches have active youth programs which include counseling, drug awareness and talking teens out of gangs. Twenty percent of the teens come from families where parents do not attend church.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse
As the following excerpts show, schools and local communities are addressing alcohol and drug abuse in a variety of ways and with some success: [Re: Drug and alcohol awareness program) “Throughout the whole day every eight to ten minutes someone would come to a classroom and take out one student, paint his or her face white and put a sign on him that said 'Don't talk to me, I'm just a memory.' The rest of the day that person was asked not to speak to anyone. This had an enormous effect on the student body because your best friend could be one of the people dying of alcohol or drug abuse. This made you think who would be left to talk to or hang out with if one of us were to die. Making us aware that we could lose a friend was a great thing for the student council to do.” Emily Wiatrek, Falls City High School, Falls City, Texas “Parents today have a major responsibility, trying to keep their teens away from alcohol. That's where Amazing Alternatives Home Program comes in.... This program emphasizes the fact that it is important for parents to verbalize their disapproval of alcohol use.” Angie Guthrie, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “The Reader's Digest Foundation challenged U.S. advertising agencies to create hardhitting anti-drunk-driving posters. The winning posters were then sent out to selected

high schools to be used as part of programs against drunk driving.” Sherri Koltes, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Some pro football players from the championship Dallas Cowboys, like Emmitt Smith, donate their free time to go to schools and hospitals to tell kids the effects of alcohol and other drugs. Other teams like the Denver Broncos are also starting to catch on and inform the youth of America that they don't have to drink and do drugs to fit in. Kenny Dykstra, who currently plays professional baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies, was once involved in a drunk driving accident. Kykstra was driving the car. After the accident, Dykstra went sober and started preaching the effects that drinking and driving can have on people.” Mark Hegbloom, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “I've decided to make some personal contributions that may not change the world, but will better myself and hopefully some people around me.... Many of my friends are users and I try to help them. I don't preach, but try to let them know the mistakes they're making. I don't hold it against my friends; I just make them aware that I care a great deal about them. My last contribution, but yet probably the most important is the promise to myself to refrain from illegal drug usage. I don't need drugs to have fun or 'take away' my problems.” Jaime Ellerman, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “At the college level, a group called Bacchus has 200 campus chapters that encourage students to moderately use alcohol, if they use it at all. Bacchus stands for Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students and it’s also the name of the Roman god of wine. The organization's projects include a designated driver program, in which one student agrees to remain sober for the evening, and offers free taxis for students with no safe way home from a party. Bacchus chapters sponsor coffee houses and alcohol-free parties and urge fraternities and sororities to provide nonalcoholic beverages at their parties.” Brad Hoffman, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Our school has a Youth Alliance program which facilitates drug and alcohol free activities. The middle school has now formed its own branch.” Angela Nicholson, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin” “Alcohol Education Program (AEP) is an organization which uses high school students as teacher assistants. Students receive training during the summer to become peer leaders. These trained students then [conduct] after-school discussion groups with other students [where they] discuss fears and questions they have about alcohol and drinking.” Sherri Koltes, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “A group of parents called In-Touch provides safe, alcohol, and drug-free events for students to attend on weekends.” Michael J. Pyle, Niantic-Harristown High School, Niantic, Illinois


“SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) encourages safe-ride pledges, alcohol free proms, and other activities without alcohol. They are turning peer pressure around so that kids are pressured not to drink.” Charity Persson, Lincoln County High School, Eureka, Montana “DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) …equips children with the knowledge that illegal drugs are bad for them. In our school, this program is directed at the 5th and 6th grade-[students]. This program shows the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol and works to build the students' self esteem.” Benjamin Deubner, Froid High School, Froid, Montana “In Saline county, the DARE program used an $8,000 grant to purchase a sophisticated video camera to tape kids reading their commitments not to use drugs. The tape is then played back to them when they need it. The camera has also been used to film students performing skits about avoiding drinking and driving and resisting anger. To the students, it's like being on TV. They use professional lighting and use AC/DC music in their videos. They talk about their dreams and how they want to accomplish them and how drugs and alcohol would affect them. This is believed to be the only program of its kind in Kansas.” Audra Goracke, Kensington High School, Kensington, Kansas “The Prom Promise Act is a contract that says that on prom night the particular student who is signing the contract will not consume any drug or alcohol that night.” Kate Manbeck, Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, Pennsylvania “In our local area, grad night volunteers hold a yearly no drugs-no alcohol party for seniors of each high school. All graduates are invited and given the opportunity to party with their friends in a safe environment. These parties are supported by parents, teachers and community businesses. Statistics prove their time and effort is well spent.” Kevin Gilman, Phoenix High , Phoenix, Oregon “R.A.D.D is a new organization formed by a very unique group of people. R.A.D.D. stands for Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving. A large number of very famous music artists worked together to create a music video against drinking and driving.” Sherri Koltes, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Another good aspect is the decrease in the usage of drugs by teenagers. Many black teens have seen first hand the effects of drugs, causing them to quit or [better still] never start. Also, drug prevention classes are often found in schools and kids attend regularly. Likewise, they warn against the effects of drugs at a younger age.” Sara Knobloch, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois “On a good note, of those polled, black students [made up a] group that reported the lowest number of illegal and legal drug abuse, throughout all high school grades. (Poll = University of Michigan with National Institute on Drug Abuse.)” Jason Allen, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington


Positive Use of the Media
“As with most topics, by digging a little deeper you can find the positive aspects of the media. The new show Ghostwriter is a good example. The Children's Television Workshop, the same producers of Sesame Street, has invested $21 million in the new show. Ghostwriter promotes literacy by making its characters read to solve mysteries. Viewers at home must do the same. Ghostwriter is a hit and has been rated as one of the top children's shows in its class.” Mara Bergeron, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota “Not all television is useless in teaching our children. Recently on the news, I saw a story about a young boy who called 911 when his neighbor's house was on fire. He gave them his address, and the fire department arrived in time to save the house. When the child was asked how he knew to do this, he said that Barney, the purple dinosaur, had told him what to do in case of a fire.” Nickie Ballard, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “One great way of showing the consequences of drunk driving is on TV shows. On popular shows, such as Life Goes On and Melrose Place, they have had stars die and injured due to drunk driving. This is a way of getting people to see what an irresponsible act can do since many people see actresses, actors and athletes as their idols.” Jessica Moen, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “MTV has become a media tool for reaching the minds of young citizens. Many kids watch this station and are starting to see ads and promos for anti-violence groups. Free Your Mind is one of the first groups to use MTV for this purpose. Their organization tries to raise awareness of racism. Many people face racial violence everyday and this group serves as the light at the end of the tunnel. Free Your Mind deals with racism against all races, languages, sexes, ages, religions and beliefs. Young people are responding positively to these ads so far. Another group using the MTV airwaves is Silence the Violence. This organization protests the use and manufacturing of handguns. They have not yet caught on with the teen crowd, but there is promise of some good for the future.” Kevin Gilman, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “Although many people may not realize it, television talk-shows which deal with social problems are of great assistance to viewers who share the same problems.” Petra Thipkhosithkun, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “Many people even use television to reverse the violence and indecency usually placed on the screen. The Oprah Winfrey Show, for instance, recently had a show on how to deal with violence seen on television which has become almost accepted as a daily occurrence. There was also a show teaching families how important family time can be and how to create time for it. This, like many other shows of it's kind, puts forth effort to resolve such problems rather than increase them.” Pervis Evans, Lubbock-Cooper High School, Lubbock, Texas


We mentioned Oprah Winfrey in connection with Random Acts of Kindness in the Foundation's 1994 book titled White Hats. Oprah has become a wonderful role model for millions of people. She has testified before Congress on behalf of abused children and given generously of her wealth to countless worthwhile programs. We recently heard her activities and her example described as “The Oprah greenhouse affect; a global warming that goes on and on.” “A Sioux Falls television station, KDLT, has an award for teachers. This award is called Teachers Who Make a Difference. This awards teachers who make learning fun, interesting and worthwhile. Teachers are nominated by a letter from students describing what the teacher does. This award is given every month with a ceremony at the school.” Jana Cooey, Centerville High Centerville, South Dakota “Hollywood has always been influential in the opinions of our country. Many times this has been negative, but a new movie is attempting to make a positive step in the direction of reducing the prejudice of AIDS. If you haven't figured it out yet, I am speaking of Philadelphia, the masterful film starring Tom Hanks. This is the first mainstream film to discuss the issues of homosexuality and AIDS, and its success shows that maybe our country is ready to face facts and handle this topic.” Jonathan W. Sweet, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “Every week, my local newspaper selects the persons of the week, usually one adult and one youth, based on the things they have done to make a difference in the community. This is a very motivating article. It gives everyone the message that they can make a difference and gives them ideas of what they can do.” Jenny Deppen, Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, Pennsylvania Many newspapers encourage readers to submit names of people who devote their time to helping others. Locally the San Jose Mercury News publishes what they call the Doers Profile. Submittals are sent to the religion and ethics editor. Also in California, the Herald in Monterey has a weekly feature, Putting Children First, describing active programs in the community as well as a weekly ethics column written by local ministers or the general public and titled In Other Words. These publications are duplicated across the nation under other headings. The purpose of the Harry Singer Foundation's high school White Hats chapters is threefold: (1) to encourage those newspapers who do not yet have this kind of program, (2) to honor those who do, and (3) to seek out new media outlets for positive and inspirational information. Educational information should also be encouraged, for the reasons stated by Michael in the excerpt below: “The Decatur Advantage sponsors a competition called Running the U.S. Economy. It teaches high school students basic economic principles and gives valuable business


lessons to the future leaders of Decatur.” Michael J. Pyle, Niantic-Harristown High School, Niantic, Illinois

“In California, parents can be fined or jailed for allowing children to participate in gangs. In Arkansas, parents can be fined when children skip school. And, twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia, have won federal waivers to evict entire families from public housing projects if one child is using or selling drugs. This sends the message that you'd better control your kids, or you're going down with them.” Rocco Troiano, Valhalla High School, Valhalla, New York “Another solution that has been tried is a teen curfew for the cities. Two dozen cities have adopted [curfews] over the past year. The punishment is directed…towards the parents. The first time that the kid is caught, the parents get a warning. For subsequent offenses, the penalties can consist of a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or fifty hours of community service…. Most kids do not realize the consequences for getting busted. They think that crimes are some type of game to play on the streets.” Kara Krauskopf, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Most parental responsibility laws are not intended to punish. Two years ago, Wisconsin passed the Grandparent Liability Law, mandating parents pay for the care of their minor children's offspring. The idea was to involve parents in the sexual education of children as a way of preventing teenage pregnancy and AIDS.” Heather Hicks, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee “In Arkansas, as in several other states, the crackdown against parents was aimed at ending problems in school, rather than at criminal behavior. The state legislature passed a measure instructing courts to fine parents if they miss certain parent-teacher conferences or if their children skip school. The law was modeled after the get-tough approach in (Judge) Watt's Little Rock courtroom. He recently threatened to send Heather Lamson, age fifteen, to juvenile center because of her chronic school skipping. Her father, Richard, a diesel mechanic who works a midnight shift, did not know she was truant. The father, a single parent, paid a $130 fine and took her car. Watt suspended the fine when Heather turned her low grades to As and Bs.” Mike Waters, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma “The City Council of Omaha, Nebraska is trying to teach parents to be responsible for their children. The Council has made a plan to fine parents up to $1,000 for their children breaking the law. If the parents can't afford the fine, then they are required to do community service work. This plan will encourage parents to set and enforce rules for their children.” Shaine Jenkins, Blue Ridge High, Blue Ridge, Texas


“California now makes parents criminally responsible for shootings involving their children.” Eric Bachmann, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California

“The people working on the Talkline are kind of like counselors who talk to the students and try to help them and work out their problems. This Talkline lets the students know that even though they have no one to talk to at home, the Talkline will always listen.” Karen Louise Gerhart, Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, Pennsylvania “Lifesavers is a group of young individuals who come together in times of need. It is formed by various groups of high school students who take the time to help others when they are in trouble or even just for a simple talk. Lifesavers take responsibility for others as well as for themselves. They pledge not to drink and not to take drugs while serving as a Lifesaver.” Didi Andrew, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “See You at the Pole, a time for people to meet before school once a year to pray in unison with others across the nation, has prospered into a great opportunity to meet people who really share your feelings. This program allows students to realize they are not alone in their effort to be moral and ethical.” Grant Anders, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas “My school has a club called Students Helping Students. This club consists of students from the school. These students help out other students with problems. The students are there so there is always someone to talk to.” Florencio Ramos, Jr. Richmond High, Richmond, Illinois “Another service offered in my school is Peer Helpers. This is a group of kids that are in the school and are trained to talk to anyone who might need it. By having this service available, you do not only have an adult figure to go to when in need. The idea behind Peer Helpers is to get people to talk more openly with one another when a problem occurs.” Ronda McEvers, Barnesville High School, Barnesville, Minnesota “At our school, we have support groups and counseling for those students who find themselves in a tough situation and those teens who are experiencing problems that might eventually lead to a deep depression, or even worse, suicide. There is also a program that allows kids to help kids called Natural Helpers. It is also a support group run by students who are trained to listen and recognize serious problems.” Angie Park, Kiona-Benton High, Benton City, Washington “We should start in the school systems because most of the kids who need the help don't get it at home. Our school has started a program called SAPHIRE. Student Assistance Program Helping Individuals Reach Expectation is a group of teachers with a goal to


make us better. When someone is having a problem they go to one of the teachers or the staff. They [teachers] not only do everything to help, but they give them [students] guidance to reach their goals or expectations.” Dawn Engle, Ramsey High School, Ramsey, Illinois “There's a peer mediation class at my school that deals with conflicts and helps people to solve problems. This is helpful to those who are trying to make their family work, but are having trouble.” Angela Romero, David Crockett High, School, Austin, Texas “In many Oregon high schools where is a program called Natural Helpers. This is one of the most beneficial programs for high school students today. Natural Helpers is a peer elected group that deals with general problems high school students face on a daily basis. Students educating students? Actually it makes perfect sense. Most students won't go to a teacher or adult to get help with a problem. We, the students and faculty, are taking responsibility by acknowledging that students need to talk to people. I think our student body has really benefited from this program. We have a healthier and happier student body.” Kristin Chase, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon

White Hats, a 1994 Harry Singer book contains many excerpts from student essays describing community projects that work. A few additional examples are presented below: “In Chicago, students from six universities approached Chicago House, a nonprofit organization that operates group residences for homeless people with HIV and AIDS. [The students offered] to work as volunteers helping with fund-raising, clerical work and sometimes emotional support for residents. Thousands more school children nation-wide are volunteering in other equally helpful ways by cleaning up parks, planting trees, starting literacy campaigns and so on.” Erica Haines, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “One other example is found in a local hospital, where over one hundred teenagers volunteer at least four hours a week to help the hospital. I had the privilege of being a junior volunteer and I found it to be a great experience.” Amy Deehr, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington “Every year, each classroom in our school adopts a family at Christmas time. Food, clothes, and presents are donated to help those families feel the Christmas spirit which is also a kids helping kids solution.” Angie Park, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington “A group of teenage boys walked through a small town in Iowa, covering wild graffiti with white paint. The boys could have been doing something [just] for themselves


[instead].... This act of responsibility shows young people at their best.” Amy Brimer, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma On August 15, 1993, the Pope directed congregants to “Look for the hidden saints!” One of those saints was posing as a young man and was discovered and publicized by Paul Harvey on his August 5, 1984 broadcast. His story would be equally at home on a segment of the Oprah Winfrey Show featuring “random acts of kindness”. The young man in question had been saving a long time to purchase a car. Finally he was ready and went to an auction where he observed a disabled woman bidding on a van. The price exceeded her ability and so the young man continued the bidding and presented the van to the woman. He figured he'd get a car for himself another day. His generosity was recognized and rewarded—something, that doesn't really happen that often. More often than not good deeds go unrecognized and perhaps should be that much sweeter to those that practice them in secret. In this case, however, the amount of attention lavished on the giver should not go unnoticed by us as we explore the condition of our nation. The late model light blue Honda Accord that was presented to this praiseworthy young man, along with enough money to send him to college, says something about our nation's rapacious hunger for heroes. “In Boston, 300 Brookline High School students are involved in thirty community service projects, including tutoring local elementary school students.” Erica Haines, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon In a large community less than a hundred miles south of San Francisco, Project Health Start serves newborns through the first two years of life. It targets families who are not eligible for government subsidies but are not wealthy enough to afford private care. There were two hundred spots open in August 1993. Hospital employees raised the money to finance free immunizations and other care for these families. Dr. George Roger started Special Days in 1979. Special Days is a camp for kids with cancer. The idea is to help these children develop a positive attitude. “After the 1992 riots in Los Angles, a youth service program called Humanitas was begun at Thomas Jefferson High School. The program encourages kids to take initiatives to solve community problems.” Tim Moore, Valley Springs High School, Valley Springs, Arkansas “Teenagers can be responsible, too. Just recently my school had a blood drive and we also had an ecology day. On this day we cleaned up the entire school from picking up trash at the football field to painting the bathrooms.” Jennifer Pilarczyk, Falls City High School, Falls City, Texas


“In Waseca, Minnesota, high school students have done everything from organizing a miniature golf-a-thon for the American Cancer Society to spearheading a clothing drive that overflowed a semi-trailer truck with skirts, shirts, pants, dresses, coats and shoes.” Erica Haines, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “In my community Habitat for Humanity is trying to build up walls, literally. New homes are built for low-income or homeless families at little or no cost to them. All materials and labor are donated by local contractors and citizens. As we work together to build these homes our sense of community pride is strengthened and everyone benefits.” Amy Deehr, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington Results is a citizens lobby which seeks to intercede between people and government. Results brings together plumbers, teachers, homemakers, artists and salesmen— ordinary people who contact their elected officials and attempt to call attention to social problems and solutions. “There are many responsible high school students who are lending a helpful hand to our society. Angela Badger, a health occupation student at Battle Ground High School, assists in her high school and elementary school health rooms. She also teaches first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to local community groups. Betsy Radigan operates Project Safe Summer, a project aimed at [steering] youth away from vandalism and other negative activity during the summer. Her efforts helped create community sponsored events that served 345 at risk youths in grades first through eighth in Portland. Both of these girls are helping their peers, the ones who tend to look to someone their own age, who they can relate to, and help them understand and change for the better.” Rosa Garcia, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon An emphasis on the environment: “In Ashby, Minnesota, elementary and middle school students have spent after school hours on Wednesdays for the last three years collecting recyclable materials from the town's 500 residents. The city matches what the kids make, and then uses the money to operate the community center that's shared by the students and senior citizens.” Erica Haines, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “On the last day of school the elementary students and the teachers of Froid go around and clean up garbage. Each class has a certain section of the town for which they are responsible.” Holly Waters, Froid High School, Froid, Montana “Our Environmental Club is very active in the community. In the past year they have planted trees and flowers along Main Street, recycled paper, picked up trash around our school, and made apple butter.” Jenni Tarner, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “Interact clubs are funded by Rotary clubs...The Interact club of Armwood High School has made a very good impression in the Greater Brandon community by the standards


that they have set in community service awards and their dedication to their motto: Service Above Self. They have found their own way to help clean up the environment and try to get everyone in the community as involved as they can.” Dennis Clanney, Armwood High School, Seffner, Florida “There is a recycling club in DeForest High School. Our high school was the first high school in Wisconsin to start to recycle. This group has set plastic containers in all rooms including the cafeteria, so students can recycle paper, cans, or bottles. If there is a product that we, as a high school, can recycle, the recycling group will inform the student body…. Many people care about our environment but don't know how to help. [The recycling Club shows people] how they can help and people respond.” Matt Laufenberg, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin “In Sweet Home, New York and in Howard and Baltimore Counties, Maryland, superintendents formed representative groups of community leaders that included people as ideologically diverse as fundamentalist ministers and ACLU attorneys. They held public forums and listened to community opinion. Together the group produced a list of values with which everyone was comfortable. These values were incorporated into the school districts' curriculum.” Jeremy Wyatt, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee

High School Students Help Elementary Students
“I believe that children should be taught their values at home, but [they] can also be incorporated throughout the child's educational years. I am involved in the Big Sister program at my school. I feel that when the support and help that a young child needs isn't found at home that it can be brought around by an older individual outside the family scene. My little sister and I do a variety of things from academic tasks that she needs help in to playing board games or reading a book. I have been told by her that I have a great influence on her life and that she's glad that she has someone to look up to. It makes one feel [good] to know that they have made a difference in someone's life.” Jennifer Patterson, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania “In Sidney, Montana, the high school athletic program started the Big Eagle-Little Eagle organization. This is a drug-free program where high school students, Big Eagles, are examples to the grade-schoolers, Little Eagles. The object of the organization is to teach children to be drug-free.” Lisa Haber, Froid High School, Froid, Montana “The Detroit Westside Cultural and Athletic Center uses teenage volunteers to work with young children. The idea is to use good students who will replace gang members as role models for the children.” Bryan Williams, Ramsey High School, Ramsey, Illinois “Some students at my high school in Colby have volunteered to teach religious education to grade school students in our church on Wednesday nights. The classes are going quite

well and the students and children are having a great time learning.” Sandra K. Aschenbrenner, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “A local program which may prove to be very beneficial in our community is a group of high school students called White Hats. There are about sixty White Hats at my high school; our main project is working with grade school students in need of a role model, someone to look up to, or just someone to talk to! Each White Hat is assigned to a grade school student which will be their own little buddy throughout high school, and probably for a lifetime. Children often get confused about good and bad role models, especially when there are none in the home. Being involved in White Hats makes me feel like I am actually making a difference in someone's life, to make a child feel like someone really does care, and to give them someone to look up to. It is important to start kids off right at an early age; to give them morals and values which can follow them for a lifetime.” Mena Brittain Blair, Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, Illinois “Speaking from experience, young children look up to their 'big' brother or sister. I tried to stay out of trouble and get good grades for my sister, so she would hopefully follow my example.” Chad Prosser, Big Spring High School, Newville, Pennsylvania

“Many of the football players stated that they too had grown up in violent schools, but they managed to stay out of trouble. They made the kids realize that people can still be important, popular, and definitely successful without following the usual route of violence.” Tracy Leenig, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “The best thing adults can do to be good examples, is to live their lives to the best of their ability. Fortunately, there are many people who have chosen to be responsible. They are aware of the example they are setting. An example of this is my father. He knew that his first career choice [as an attorney] was not what he was called to do. After ten years of practicing law, he decided to become a pastor. His career switch was drastic, but it had tremendous effects. That does not mean everyone should become a pastor. It means that there is a need to find out what it is that's most important to one specifically. Once that's determined, it's important to take action on it.” Rebecca Turner, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “In the Lincoln Projects, in Harlem, New York, there lived a family of twelve. They were relatively poor, but their father was able to put his nine children through a community college. They graduated and landed good jobs. Then they were able to afford better living conditions in a nicer neighborhood. When they were young, their father always told them to 'give something back.' Now each year, they give scholarships to high school students from their old neighborhood.” Jerry Schreck, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois


“Professional football player Warren Moon, the Houston Oilers quarterback, founded the Crescent Moon Foundation. Created in 1989, the foundation has offered 80 scholarships to high school students in the past four years. He [Mr. Moon] founded Crescent Moon to provide educational and cultural opportunities, and friends and mentors to needy kids. The scholarships provided by this foundation fulfill many kids' dreams of attending college. Not only does Warren Moon provide hundreds of thousands of scholarships, but he also organizes trips to circuses, museums and ballets.” Melanie Grage, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota Above, enthusiasm grew “80 scholarships” to “hundreds of thousands”. “Tom Selleck takes part in a program headed up by Barbara Jordan which is called the Character Counts Coalition, an experimental program being tried in several big cities across the nation. In this program, they speak in schools and put emphasis on self worth, standing up for what they believe and being an individual in society today.” Kevin Neubauer, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho

In the spring of 1994 the American Bar Association (ABA) issued a report called “America's Children at Risk” which prompted the organized bar to get active in addressing children's needs. The ABA intends to encourage more attorneys to provide pro-bono services to children in trouble. It is looking for programs to increase the availability of health care, housing and education to poor children. The ABA expects more lawyers to become involved in outreach programs to rescue kids from gangs and drugs and encourage them to stay in school. Already ABA members are involved in summer job programs, shelters for runaways, adopt-a-school projects as well as a variety of tutoring and mentoring projects. In a 1983 report, the Commonwealth Fund, a New York organization, popularized mentoring. Their report stressed the need for young people to have one-on-one relationships with caring adults. The Harry Singer Foundation recommends a book recently released by Jossey Bass Publishers in San Francisco and titled The Kindness of Strangers: Adult Mentors, Urban Youth, and the New Voluntarism. The author, Marc Freedman, claims that mentoring has become fashionable over the past ten years, and speaks of a 1990 column for the Washington Post, written by Dorothy Gilliam. In it she warned that some people were expecting mentoring to do too much too quickly. Ms. Gilliam explained why it was next to impossible for some teenagers to accept or benefit from help when it was offered: “Some of us expect too much. Some matches were instant successes, but others took time and patience just to develop trust. [Mentoring] can either blossom into a useful social tool, or like a comet that crosses the social scene, plummet and die.”


A sociologist at Howard University stressed the need for mentoring in the April 16, 1989 edition of the New York Times. She claimed youngsters left to their own devices in the inner-city” need three or four parents sometimes just to stay on top of what's happening to them every day.” Perhaps you have heard of Eugene Lang. I Have a Dream Foundation was the inspiration of Eugene Lang, a New York businessman who in 1981 challenged sixth graders in East Harlem, New York City, to qualify for college. He promised to pick up the expenses for those who succeeded. In the excerpt that follows Adam shares some of what he read about Mr. Lang's program: “In 1981 a self-made millionaire named Eugene Lang strode to the podium of the Harlem elementary school that he graduated from a half-century before to deliver a commencement address to the assembled sixth graders and their families. As he tells it, he impulsively threw away the bootstrap bromides he had prepared and instead offered to pay the college tuition of every student in that class who went on to finish high school. This offer inspired fifty of the fifty-one student to graduate from high school. This also inspired other benefactors to step forward as well.” Adam Parker, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin The ABA Journal, July 1994 spoke of three Portland, Oregon lawyers who issued the same challenge to a group of fifth-graders, known as Dreamers. Like Mr. Lang, the sponsoring lawyers saw that the students in Portland received more than a promise of money. They hired a full-time project coordinator who sees that every student gets individual attention and a chance to participate in all kinds of trips and other enriching activities. Some of these students have spent vacations at Whitman College in Walla Walla Washington. Whitman is one of a hundred colleges and universities across the country that have promised full financial-aid to any Dreamer they admit. Additionally the scholarship fund established by the three Portland lawyers will net an additional $1,000 a year to every Dreamer during his college career. Sara tells us about another philanthropist: “In 1978, a retired meteorologist decided to volunteer at an after-school tutoring program in Collier County, Florida. He felt that more could be accomplished in a smaller group and extended an invitation to a handful of kids. He soon had a regular group of four elementary age girls meeting Saturday afternoons for tutoring. They are now successful college graduates and give credit to him for the inspiration that changed their lives. This man proves that one person who cares can make a difference. He taught the necessity and rewards of hard work and discipline.” Sara Peterson, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota


“Many kids find school boring and some drop out. A teacher in South Valley School wants to make school more fun for kids. He uses a map of the United States in a gym to combine geography with physical educational games. Creative teachers using ideas like this help keep kids off the street and promote school instead of violence and drugs.” Ryan Stanton, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “Some schools in Spokane, Washington, have started a program called Stay in School. This program offers students prizes for staying in school.” Keith Parker, Wallace High School, Wallace, Idaho “In ten states the National Guard has developed a program to assist high school dropouts who wish to complete their high school education. They send the teens through a bootcamp like program which is designed to boost interest in learning and increase self esteem.” Mike Godfrey, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon Encouraging academic achievement: “My high school has many great ideas, one of which is our Renaissance Program. Students with good grades, citizenship, and attendance are rewarded with cards that allow certain advantages. They can go out for lunch, receive business discounts, homework passes, and some may even choose a day off from school. This program challenges teenagers to achieve their best, while giving them a start to a successful life.” Shelly Miller, Colby High School, Colby, Kansas “The junior high school in my home town has installed a teams program that strives to reach kids and raise test scores on the Texas Academic Achievement Skills test.” Jill Walser, Hereford High, Hereford, Texas “Everyone from Walmart to Daughters of the American Revolution is rewarding excellent students for their achievements and interest in continued study. This encourages many students to do their best in everything and reach the goals they set. Organizations such as these are acting responsibly by promoting good behavior.” Alice Elizabeth Juvenal, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas “One program that propels blacks toward college is the Love of Learning program at North Carolina's Davidson College. This minority enrichment program recruits promising young students from the nearby Charlotte-Mecklenberg public school system who are in the middle of their class. Students are selected in the eighth grade and must spend the next five summers at the program. Students attend meetings twice a month where they work on English and math and review for the SAT. A parent must promise to attend quarterly meetings where they discuss such things as high school course selection and college financial aid. All twenty-nine students that began the first year have gone on to college.” Lanna Renee Hill, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky

“New York Jets' wide receiver Rob Moore is very active in education. His most important project is aimed at talented high school football players who are not as gifted in the classroom. His Books and Ball Camp is a week-long program run during the summer. In it, sixty high school juniors spend their mornings in the classroom, sharpening their academic skills in preparation for the college entrance exams. Afternoons are spent on the field for the purpose of sharpening their athletic skills. Motivational speakers appear from time to time, as well.” Craig Sjostrom, Central Islip High School, Central Islip, New York “Danville High School, in Danville, Kentucky, has recently instituted a program called AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination. The program is to help students who ordinarily would not attend college to prepare for it by learning work and study skills. Teachers and tutors are available to help with academics, support, and motivation. AVID is a program conceived in the San Diego schools which has spread to other schools and become successful.” Dee Hazelrigg, Danville High School, Danville, Kentucky “In Texas Adopt a School programs furnish Mexican pupils and teachers with critical supplies, personal attention and raise money for new schools.” Jennifer Waddell, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio “In my school district, each school has formed a partnership-in-education with a local business or industry. The partner provides the school with many needed supplies and equipment. They also provide students with motivators and incentives to learn, such as folders, pencils and bumper stickers for making the honor or merit rolls.” Jeremy Wyatt, Camden High School, Camden, Tennessee Secretary of Education, Richard Riley launched his family involvement campaign at a speech at Georgetown University on February 15, 1994. The campaign's goal is to encourage adults to take a special interest in young people's schooling. Parents are provided with a series of concrete steps they can take to further their children's education. A week earlier the Senate passed Goals 2000; Educate America Act which sets voluntary national standards for education, and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, designed to better prepare those students who don't attend college for the job market. Goals 2000 started out with 400 pages, but the defining regulations promise to add at least 4,000 pages more. Politicians habitually dump on the schools, social problems they have not been able to successfully handle; problems ranging from drug abuse and reckless driving to teenage crime and pregnancy. Secretary Riley admitted that “teachers and principals are already directly confronting violence, the breakdown of the family, ethnic and racial tension and the growing mismatch between the classroom and the job market.”


“Other schools are making efforts to involve parents and are seeing positive results. Parent-teacher conferences at Kinsley High School were moved to the cafeteria, a central location, so the parents would feel less intimidated. The conferences were also moved to the evening to accommodate working parents. The result has produced a 90 percent attendance rate by the parents. Allen Elementary School, also making adjustments for the convenience of the parents, had 80 percent participation in a family reading night and 100 percent attendance at parent-teacher conferences for a number of classes. Some teachers, too, are making an extra effort to shorten the gap between parents and the child's education. A teacher at Aleln Elementary added something new to parent-teacher conferences. She asked each parent to write a positive note to their child about what they had learned at the conference. The next day, the teacher gave the notes to the children. For some it was the first time they had received a compliment about schoolwork from their parents. One student taped the note inside her notebook. The triangle between the student, the teacher, and the parents proves to be important. In Alton, Illinois volunteer parents replaced the art program after budget cuts forced the art teachers to be laid off. The positive efforts of these parents do make a difference.” Michelle Proberts, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, KansasKansas

Kendal Piatt, in the excerpt reproduced below, relied heavily on an article by Kathrine Ames and Marcus Mabry, discovered in the January 20, 1992 issue of Newsweek, to bring us good news about the success of Maryland's programs to curb teen pregnancy: “In a Baltimore middle school a sign reads, 'A baby costs $474 a month, how much do you have in your pocket?' A picture shows a 'grim' young man holding an infant. 'Thanks to a broad array of programs—from poster campaigns to hip drop-in health centers-Maryland's effort to get kids not to have kids is paying off.' The state has an 'alarmingly high' teen-pregnancy rate, but the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, formed in 1987 to reduce it, recently announced some great statistics. The number of pregnancies among Maryland girls under age eighteen fell thirteen percent between 1988 and 1990.' Maryland [takes] a variety of approaches to [its] teen pregnancy problem. Money for projects comes from private and public sources. 'There are community-based efforts to involve parents; incentive grants help local programs. The state also targets both genders' They send coaches and other men of influence to talk to boys instead of putting the whole 'burden' on girls. The most high-profile statewide program, Campaign for Our Children, is in Maryland. It involves using class lesson plans and advertising to encourage abstinence among nine to fourteen year-olds. 'Its most arresting image: a billboard with the word VIRGIN spelled out in 10-foot high letters, and a tag line: Teach your kids it's not a dirty word.' Lemmel Middle School used to have four seventh-grade pregnancies a year. After the program began it had none. There are many facilities set up to help pregnant women. One that I'm familiar with is the Tri-City Pregnancy Center. They give free pregnancy tests, have counselors set up to discuss options, give you ideas to break the news to parents and give solutions other than abortion.” Kendal Piatt, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington


“In my community, teenagers are encouraged to protect themselves from getting pregnant. If they do become pregnant, they are encouraged to stay in school and go out and make a good living for themselves.” Sarah Flanagan, Walters High School, Walters, Oklahoma “Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy (PAP) is a successful program introduced in 1983 to help low income teens avoid cycles of early pregnancy, poverty, and hopelessness.” Didi Andrew, Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois “A single lady named Marie is sixty-five years old. She now travels from house to house…[talking] to teenage girls who are pregnant. She not only counsels them, but also teaches them how to care for a child. She checks on each of her girls periodically, offering them the love and support that is lacking in many of their lives.” Angelina J. Morrow, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma “Programs such as Sex Respect are a definite yes in the fight to curb teen sexual activity. These programs are based upon abstinence and get their message across by listing ways humans are different from animals, having multiple-choice questions on what situations put pressure on teems to have sex, and making bumper stickers that say, CONTROL YOUR URGINS', BE A VIRGIN. I feel that these programs, and those like them, should be instituted along with programs that deal with the emotional aspect of sex, in order to help the most in the fight against the problem of teen sex.” Chris Sanchez, David Crockett High School, Austin, Texas “Our local church was involved in a True Love Waits program. We went through the benefits of abstinence and at the end of the training signed commitment cards and donated two dollar. The program became a national non- denominational program involving churches all over the United States. The two dollar goes to purchasing pages in a national magazine with everybody's name, who signed a commitment card, listed. This was done to show the nation that teenagers are strong enough to control their desires and want to make a difference. So far there are an estimated 500,000 participants.” Kendal Piatt, Kiona-Benton High School, Benton City, Washington More than 100,000 participants in the True Love Waits program pledged to avoid sex before marriage in June 1994 at a meeting in Orlando, Florida. There is a similar program in Atlanta that uses older teens to encourage eighth graders to say no to sex before marriage. Baltimore has its own program called Best Friends and Peer Power in Washington D.C. targets even younger children. These are all programs that need and deserve our support. “Teens who are pregnant or have around to schools and tell their stories...hoping that [their audience] will learn from the bad experiences of others.” Angelina J. Morrow, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma “Another solution is the HUG project. It stands for Human Growth and Development. It is the umbrella title used in the Wisconsin Public School Systems for the K-12 grade


program. It teaches about 'growing up.' Its purpose is to increase knowledge of and respect for human fertility. It promotes chastity and abstinence.” Tracy Poknifke, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin President Clinton wants to establish a new agency called the Office of Adolescent Health which would address teen pregnancy, AIDS, teen suicide and drug abuse. So far programs to distribute condoms in schools, operate sex clinics, fund abortions or convince girls to use Norplant have not made a dent in the problem. The most recent proposal to reduce welfare benefits to teenage mothers may also be inadequate. Many young people believe the solution lies in teenagers becoming aware of the consequences of their actions and deciding on their own to be a constructive rather than a destructive force in society. The decision to postpone sexual activity until marriage must come from young people themselves. High school students in Carlsbad, California have an unique opportunity to discover what early parenting might be like. Baby Think-It-Over is a doll which boys and girls can check out for a period of time. Baby Think-It-Over is the brainchild of a former aero-space engineer who developed the doll to give teens a realistic experience of living with a newborn. Baby-Think-It-Over wakes up in the middle of the night and cries like a regular baby. A key is provided which turns the crying off, just as a feeding does. The doll is also programmed to need diaper changes frequently. Students in Carlsbad can be seen taking Baby Think-It-Over to classes, something that is a required part of the program. Students find the experience is nothing like baby-sitting. There is no escape from the responsibility. Baby Think-ItOver is with them continuously, 24 hours a day. Like a real baby, the doll changes the student's life. After the experience, most students felt strongly that it would be sometime before they were ready for the realities of parenthood.

“Organizations like Parents Anonymous provide self-help groups that seek to guide and support their members in changing behaviors that injure themselves and their families. The organization functions like Alcoholic Anonymous.” Heidi Marie Grow, Kinsley High School, Kinsley, Kansas “TWIKA is a program that teaches parents how to teach their children about alcohol and drugs.” Amy Severson, Colby High, Colby, Kansas “Many schools in the area are attempting to help the parents take care of their children better. They are trying something called 'parent networking,' which is compiling a list of phone numbers so parents can contact each other easily. This idea is intended to prevent things such as parties, when parents leave town. The list of phone numbers is provided for the parents that want to be more involved in their children's lives, and keep better track of what they are doing. In schools that have been doing this for awhile, it has


produced many benefits and seems to be very effective.” Mary Conway, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon “There is a new grass-roots organization in Washington called Parent Action. It is a lobbying organization to demonstrate the energy that parents have. This organization will help the parents to try to understand their children a little better.” Dallas Hacker, Strasburg High School, Strasburg, Colorado “The family preservation movement is aimed at keeping parents and kids together, since research indicates that kids do better if they remain with their biological family. Fourteen states are currently using this system and there were over 20,000 participants in the last three years.” Suzanne Pollman, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Suzanne Pollman, in her excerpt above, told us “research indicates that kids do better if they remain with their biological family.” Isn't it possible that Jimmy T, in the excerpt that follows, could have been saved in a Boys Town setting? “There was a kid by the name of Jimmy T. who lived in Chicago and a the age of fourteen. His parents didn't know where he was most of the time and really didn't care. Since Jimmy had no parents to turn to for help, at the age of sixteen he was pressured into a drive-by shooting. He killed two and wounded three. After Jimmy had done the shooting he became so afraid and was so scared that he just shot himself to try to end the misery.” Michael Bevins, Rock Hill Senior High School, Ironton, Ohio Children can't choose their parents so why not acknowledge the fact that some would be better off living apart from their biological families? Consider the following excerpt from Matt Michalski's paper: “I am a person who at one time in my life had four brothers and now I only have two. My parents were foster parents to three children. One of these children suffered from Down's Syndrome, and another was Puerto Rican. The organization that my parents received these children from took them away from us because the natural parents wanted them back. The children's parents didn't have adequate capabilities to raise these children. In the span of thirty days both children were dead. These children were victims of the system. They were subject to mistreatment and they had no say in it. The system should let the children decide their own destiny regardless of age. These children should not have to be responsible for someone else's mistake; and pay for it with their lives.” Matt Michalski, South Kent High School, South Kent, Connecticut Matt's “brothers” may have suffered unintentionally; been killed by neglect or incompetence, but we too often hear about innocent children who have been intentionally abused. In fact recently, and close to home, a man was arrested on suspicion of beating his ten-week-old twin daughters. Today in the news we hear that an eleven year-old was “traded to a neighbor for beer and cigarettes.”


“Stories of child abuse can often be horrifying and implausible. If you make the choice to have a child, then you have a responsibility to provide the best life you can for the child. Robert Lee Harvey, a 31-year-old unemployed landscaper from Wellesley, Massachusetts, was charged with first-degree murder in December of 1988 for the death of his [six-year-old] son, Benjamin. Police found him standing over his son's body with a hunting knife in his hand. Harvey had allegedly slashed the boy's throat. What possesses a parent to harm an innocent child? When two-year-old Rebecca accidentally soiled her underwear, her mother and the mother's boyfriend were not pleased. So they heated up some cooking oil, held Rebecca down and poured it over her. Then they waited a week or so before Rebecca's mother, unable to stand the stench of the child's legs, which were rotting from gangrene, took her to the hospital. After a month's stay that saved her legs, Rebecca was able to move to a foster home. How could you live with yourself after you intentionally caused pain to a child?” Amy Ziegler, DeForest High School, DeForest, Wisconsin A single Oklahoma hospital documented the treatment of 1,200 abused kids in a single year. On May 26, 1994 a boy in Kentucky brought a gun to school and told his teacher he had just killed family members with it. Children kill three hundred parents each year in this country. Isn't it time to reexamine fifty year old policies that blindly seek to encourage family preservation at the expense of the children who may simply be programmed to not express their true feelings? Fifty years ago Herman and Druie Dunton of Rush Valley, Oklahoma would have been removed from their home after county officials received hundreds of calls from family and neighbors. But Herman and Druie are today's kids and public policy is intent on keeping families together because “research indicates that kids do better if they remain with their biological family.” One aunt alone made 25 to 30 calls alerting the authorities to suspected child abuse; but Grady County, Oklahoma only has two investigators for every 500 complaints. Finally, since nothing was done to help the Dunton boys, concerned adults stopped calling. With no protection from the adult world, the children were left to their own devices. In desperation the overwhelmed eighth grader used a shotgun to protect his younger brother and end the abusive treatment of a sadistic father. Public policy makes it almost impossible to separate children from parents. Kids are generally too scared to talk, but without their testimony today's safeguards mean suspicions must be ignored, as they were in the Dunton case. As an Oklahoma social worker commented, “If that's the policy it's not working and we need to change it.”


Change? Perhaps. But is “the battered child syndrome” and other excuses which allow murder to be reclassified as self-defense, the way to go? The battered-childsyndrome-defense had its start in southern California and was used successfully to exculpate the Menendez Brothers; the young men accused of killing their wealthy parents in Los Angeles. The defense has spread and is being used by a number of youngsters, including a 16 year-old who in 1991 killed his arthritic 77 year old father in Panama City, Florida. Can we as a society be surprised? After all, as the poem says: Children Learn What They Live If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world. The solution to our societal dilemma is not clear-cut and so we stand helplessly by letting the problem develop as if it had a life of its own. On the one hand we cannot remove children from their genetic parents without irrefutable evidence of abuse; something that is almost impossible to obtain. On the other hand we cannot condone


the killing of parents by their children as justifiable retaliation for that abuse. We are stymied and our young people are forced to fend for themselves. On page 25 Jason Dawdy was brilliant in his analysis of teen pregnancy. We ask you to listen to him once again: “The solutions implemented must be human ones if they are to break through the desolation of America's neglected. As a nation we must seek these children out and put them on their feet, then stand by to help them when they fall. In more personal terms, I ought to be concerned about my friends, teachers ought to be concerned about their students, and parents simply must be concerned about their children. The concern I speak of is difficult to give, it involves listening with an open mind and reaching out with an open heart.” Jason Dawdy, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kansas Can't we agree on rules and circumstances that will allow children who are born to non-nurturing parents to be raised in community-sponsored safety zones without stigma or blame attaching to the child or the family? We have the power to make this an acceptable public policy choice. As a society we have the power to change attitudes about parenting and children. We ask again—more insistently and a little louder

Doesn't anyone care about the children?