Eighth graders Steven Long, Angela Brown and Atinera Lomax were sitting with their desks pushed together, talking about the problem of teen violence.
Pointing in his Need in Deed folder to a handout from the World Health Organization, Steven described the scope of the problem.
“Our population is going down,” he said. “565 young people die each day around the world.” He pointed to some of the root causes of teen violence as identified by WHO, including impulsivity, poor behavior control and low educational achievement.
“Some kids think school is a waste of time,” said Atinera. “So they cut school and get in with the wrong crowd.”
“If they don’t do well in school, they think they’re failures and then drop out,” added Angela.
The students in Leslie Greenberg’s class at Jay Cooke Elementary School, in Logan, have decided to tackle a huge problem. But it’s one that touches their lives, as many of them revealed when they read aloud their persuasive essays several weeks ago. Many know young people who have died at the hands of gun-wielding teens and gang members.
Their teacher is anxious for the class to find a direction for the service aspect of their project; several ideas are percolating. One addresses the issue of conflict resolution by providing an alternative to after-school or Saturday detention. Coined “Bullies Anonymous” by their social studies teacher, the program would help students charged with detention to come up with peaceful alternatives to fighting. The program design would come from Section 313.
The other is for the students to host a charity basketball event, with the money raised going to an organization whose mission addresses the problem of youth violence. Naykwon Phillips and Malik Smith like this idea, being members of the Cooke basketball team and serious fans.
Ms. Greenberg is eager to get started. “My feeling is, let’s move forward!”