A report in today’s Charlotte Observer has undone me. Almost 1500 high school students in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system (the school system where I used to teach and whose district I still live in) completed a survey last year on their risk behavior. Here are some of the findings, broken down by ethnic demographics:
Reported binge drinking in the last 30 days- 27% white, 5% black, and 21% Hispanic
Used any form of cocaine: 11% white, 3% black, 12% Hispanic
Have had sexual intercourse: 35% white, 56% black, 59% Hispanic
Had intercourse before 13: 3% white, 14% black, 13% Hispanic
Had intercourse with for or more people in their lifetime: 8% white, 20% black, 20% Hispanic
Said parents rarely discuss how they are doing in school: 10% white, 18% black, 21% Hispanic
Attempted suicide in the last twelve months: 12% white, 12% black, 18% Hispanic
You can read the whole article here.
My heart hurts, almost literally. There is a knot in my chest right now. I’ve shared my love of teaching and young people with you in past posts, and that they are hurting this badly in just one city in America means that our young people are hurting this badly everywhere. We owe them so much more than this. I hope you’ll join me in finding a way to reach out. Perhaps it is mentoring or volunteering at a school, teen health center, community center or volunteer program. Maybe it is offering financial support. A few weeks ago, I told you about starting a giving circle to raise scholarship funds for Latina girls. We’ve met with lawyers and started the non-profit process to get it launched. I hope you’ll consider joining the Circle de Luz Giving Network, an innovative approach to reach young Latinas and positively impact their futures with a scholarship program. You can learn more about it the program and how to join the effort here.
There are never easy answers to complex problems, and there is certainly no easy answer for how to help our young people live more fulfilling, less dangerous lives. I know that cocaine and alcohol and sex at the age of 13 are choices that are being made from a world of hurt. I plan to continue sharing with you how we can tackle that hurt, help to heal those wounds. Here’s hoping that a world of hope is enough salve for this suffering.