In my city, teens seem to be at the bottom of the food chain; scraping and scrapping just to make it in this system. A majority of the youth fall victim to negative influences and lack of opportunities in Brockton, MA, making me wonder if a city that is only twenty-two square miles in area deals with this epidemic, what are the larger cities facing? Rather than having choices when it comes to sewing positivity into their community, inner-city youth are surrounded by drugs, guns and gangs in their environment, as well as in their social media spheres. On any given day, a teen can access more types of drugs than he/she can imagine. They can either walk across the city to the one library open, or take a ten minute stroll to get a bag of weed. What do you think my peers are going to choose? The easy route; the route of conformed entrapment which eventually leads to prison both literally and figuratively. But adults around my way don’t see it like I do. They don’t see my vision for America’s youth. My vision of empowerment and freedom.
The media creates a society cycling around the principle that youth need to do all they can to “fit in”. Extravagant living and unrealistic ideals are constantly being desired by the youth. Teens in particular are taught to blend together as a unit rather than stand out as individuals. This lack of self-identity combine with what is perpetuated by the media today. Youth are desensitized to images of drugs, money, violence and sex so much that these activities become the normal and cool things to do. Positive images of academic and personal growth are outweighed by a societal need for status, wealth and worldly desires presented predominantly to the underdeveloped mind.
America as a whole is not invested into the youth. If America truly was, we would see more success stories and fewer stories of crime and violence. Majority of city kids flounder into failure because the very homes that birthed them also mistreat them. If cities begin to make educational and artistic investments into the youth, then the school to prison pipeline could be severed indefinitely and kids would begin to make better choices. It is not just about improving access to technology because the increase in readily available information has left my peers lazy when it comes to exploring the truth. It is about creating quality after-school and weekend programming ran by caring mentors who leave the truth just out of reach and challenge their mentees to stretch themselves for answers. It is about occupying their free time with positive activities. I desire to see change within the youth. Improving education is not enough; we must increase the amount of quality programs available to youth so that their free time is being occupied with activities such as community service, career exploration and artistic/athletic expression. I may only be seventeen, but I see deeper than adults to the root of the issue in America. We need to reinvent how we care for our youth because we are losing them to the world. I have a vision for America’s youth and am dedicated to being the positive change my peers need.