- Posted September 20, 2011 by
Washington, District of Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Boot camp: Editing your story
Edited story on our youth across the globe
Having traveled to 18 countries and all across America, I have seen two very distinct attitudes in the minds of our youth. On one side, there are young people who are hopeful for the future and can’t wait for the next day to begin. They see each day as being pregnant with possibilities. For these youth, because of the advantages they have been afforded in life, they see no boundaries to what they can do and how they can change the world.
Then there is the other attitude I witness. It’s an attitude of sheer hopelessness. It’s the attitude of a Congolese refugee teenager who told me “We are already condemned to death” because of the conditions they have been forced to live in such as being pimped out by their mothers for sex for the equivalent of a quarter. It’s the attitude of a student in Johannesburg who told me of the story of being raped by her uncles. It’s the attitude of a student in Washington, DC telling me he was just thrown out of his house at age fourteen and has nowhere to go.
In the middle of these distinct attitudes lie possibilities for all of our youth. The problem, however, is that many adults possess a pejorative idea of all of our youth as being lazy, uninterested in changing society, and just looking for unsavory activities to become involved in, such as rioting in London or Philadelphia. Because of our unwillingness to engage our young people, we have placed most young people in this category. If we are truly interested in saving the lives of so many youth who are being lost in society, we must engage them. We must learn about their hopes and their fears, and their pride and their tears. Our youth may be 50% of our population, but they are 100% of our future. It is time that we listen to them—all of them.