By Lance Wright
Yesterday afternoon I had the honor of speaking at a local High School with a few others and I was overwhelmed by some of the responses I received.
Some of the teachers were discussing student behaviors and such prior to the assembly. Teachers expressed concern over some of the students’ behavior. They spoke of fearing some of the students, of student threats if the teacher didn’t give them what they wanted, and much more. It sounded as if teachers were on the defensive rather than engaged in teaching. That is not to say the teachers are not committed, but when fear and being on the defense because of unruly students is happening it is definitely hurting the quality of education.
During the assembly of about 125+ students, many truths surfaced. At one point I asked the students to raise their hands if they or someone they knew had used drugs, was currently using drugs, or were engaged in criminal behavior. About 80% of the Students raised their Hands!!! I was overwhelmed with what these kids were facing.
The students heard from a couple men the destructive journey many of the students were on from their own experience. They spoke of pain and trauma in the family, of lost friends, of going to prison, of recovery and learning from mistakes. I shared that behind the drugs and lifestyle I was a frightened, insecure person, with low-self esteem and a need for acceptance when I was their age. Overall we let them know that much of the destructive behavior we were part of when young was because of these types of things.
Not a student spoke or acted up the entire assembly. They all were attentive and at the end asked only a few questions. After the assembly a few of them came up and shared with us their stories of losing friends to overdose, of a friend going to prison, of the struggle they faced fitting in. These kids were no different than the kids were in the past, and yet the influence and consequences were much more wide spread. After this experience, I am at a complete loss for words. Sadness, anger, disbelief, hurt…these are what I sit with when thinking about the lives of our society’s youth.
Maybe you know of kids like these. What can we do as a society to reach them and change the course of their lives? Sometimes it is in making something known that something can be done. What can you do?