We’ve heard the stories and read the stats. From shootings to suicides, from Colombine to crystal meth, from binge drinking to bullying, it’s tough to be a kid these days. And there is no comfort for parents of kids who simply couldn’t take it, whether it’s Tyler Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge or Robert Champion being beaten to death in an alleged hazing.
But occasionally, I see a ray of light. Take this recent YouTube sensation: Harvard’s baseball team engaging in a little mindless fun on the road.
On the surface, it’s just a bunch of hunky athletes gone viral. But I couldn’t help being struck by the overwhelming positivity of teens spending their free time creating something instead of destroying something. Or someone. Despite their casual demeanor, you know these guys practiced more than a few times to get it right… and the final product is a perfectly choreographed, all-in-one-take mini-masterpiece. I don’t know about you, but my creative contribution in the back of those school vans extended about as far as strip poker and a flask of vodka. If anyone deserves a child prone to rebellious, anti-social activity, it’s me!
But in an odd twist of anti-karma, my daughter is in a theater group where treating each other with compassion and being a productive member of the team are not just required, but rewarded and celebrated. The most popular ones put the group before themselves and know what it means to have someone’s back. And the younger members are informally but powerfully schooled through this example. Bullying? Not a chance.
Every tribe has its own cultural codes of behavior. Perhaps we can rewrite the cultural script of our nation’s youth with a new set of norms, both of what not to do, and of what’s possible to create.
Check this school-wide project out of Shorewood, Washington, in which participation in probably the most technically mind-boggling cinematographic feat I’ve seen in awhile was open to students of all races, shapes, and sizes. These teens exhibited powers of organization and inclusiveness that will carry them far in adulthood. Can’t say my high-school self was up to such a challenge. How about you? All around us, there are brilliant examples of kids making movies, art, theater, and other amazing creations. Keep your eyes open for what’s good and share liberally.
Tags: bullying, drug abuse, suicide, teens