By Curtis Michaels
Roswell Daily Record
Is there anything we can do about teen drugs, gangs, violence and crime? Is there any hope for our future with today’s kids coming up the way they are?
The answers are yes and yes.
The best news is that you can help.
The teen years are tough. As a child enters their teenage years, hormones start kicking in, their bodies start producing smells and sensations that are completely new to them and suddenly they care what other kids think of them more than ever before. They also begin seriously questioning the wisdom of adults.
The angst common to teen life is a very real phenomenon. They are generally driven. They need change. They need to make a difference.
Patience comes, if it comes at all, with age. Often it’s connected with wisdom, and there is some truth to that. However, when properly channeled, that energy can be used to make a more productive adult.
When you combine the problems often inherent to family life, with the emotional numbing of so-common violence in entertainment, with the hormonal surges that spur teens into action the results can be deadly.
The CSB is the Chaves County Comprehensive Strategy Board. The purpose of the CSB as stated in their vision statement is: “The vision of the Chaves County Comprehensive Strategy Board is to positively [auth] impact and enhance the lives of our youth to prepare them for a productive adulthood.”
They work to reduce gang activity and juvenile delinquency, and to increate the protective factors around children and youth.
With the work of CSB member organizations, the strategies to prepare youth for a productive adulthood are working.
Many of the member organizations work with families or with adults only. To better reach teens, and help them become productive adults, the CSB recognizes the importance of reaching the entire family. To help parents do better at parenting and to improve the quality of their lives means the teens have better access to the support they need. Reaching the small children through the parents, helps them grow into healthier teens.
At the Oct. 13 meeting of the CSB, Andrae England and Laura Danley spoke about the Roswell Literacy Council.
England, the RLC director said, “We teach our students how they learn, not how to learn. Once they know that they can learn, they want to learn more.”
She told of a woman who came in to learn to read in both Spanish and English. She was bilingual but needed to read more fluently to get work. The woman brought her 3 year old daughter with her. The woman read children’s books in Spanish and English to her daughter, at first, and in a few weeks the woman started reading anything she could get her hands on. It wasn’t long before the little girl was borrowing books from the tutor to take home and read. Both mother and daughter have become voracious readers.
The gaps in social awareness caused by illiteracy are vast. England has been told, “I want to know how to stay out of trouble.”
The more they learn, through reading and self-direction, the more they understand how they had been making trouble for themselves and can now change those behaviors.
Danley, a volunteer tutor said “literacy has a huge impact on society as a whole.” Referencing the exponential nature of positive impact. She said, “If you impact one person positively, they impact the community positively.”
Fifth Judicial District Court Judge Freddie Romero is the chairman of the CSB.
“We can get numbers easily, quantitative evidence is readily available; he said. “What we need is qualitative evidence. We need to understand why kids are getting into trouble.”
There are many reasons people cause problems in society, few actually want to cause problems.
England pointed out, a small child who witnesses a violent act will often go into a state of depression, which, if left untreated, can develop into deep seated emotional problems.
Whether that violent act is in the home, a simulated game or on TV it needs to be addressed.
Some children are never taught that games, TV and movies are not real life. Many adults expect the children to know that automatically. A few figure it out, but others don’t. What they witness as real in their minds will affect their emotional health, and so communication before they are exposed to broadcast violence can make all the difference to a child’s wellbeing.
There are so many reasons that teens can act out in destructive ways. Some of those reasons may be long-standing problems, others may be more immediate in nature.
You probably have observations about troubled teens that you feel could make a difference. You can make a difference by working with any of the member organizations of the CSB.
The non-voting member organizations are: New Mexico CYFD, Wings for L.I.F.E., Chaves County CASA, Anderson Consulting, Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell (Educational Opportunity Center/TRIO), Roswell SAFE Coalition, New Mexico State Police, Roswell Independent School District, Lovelace Hospital – Nurse, Roswell Refuge for Battered Adults, School Based Health Center Coordinator, New Mexico Department of Health (Social & Community Service Coordinator; School Health Advocate), Dexter Consolidated Schools District, New Mexico Workforce Connection, Roswell Literacy Council, Chaves County DWI, Salvation Army, Special Needs Consulting LLC, Chaves County Children’s Drug Court, Assurance Home, City of Roswell and La Casa Behavioral Health Center.