To the Editor,
I believe the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” is providing all communities with a teachable moment. I know for me growing up in New York City adolescence was often hit and miss and quite challenging during my teens. I still count my blessings that I am still here.
I think in today’s age of Social Media and so many other pressures, our teens are facing greater challenges than any other generation has ever experienced.
“13 Reasons Why” goes in a different direction, but I offer the opposite. A recent Op-Ed by Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook touched upon some important points. “Young people want to matter. They want to belong and feel they can make a difference in the world. When the answer is no, kids feel rejected and alone. They are more prone to self-destructive and antisocial behaviors.”
Sheryl continued to say, “Adolescents who feel that they matter are less likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. They’re less likely to lash out at their families and engage in rebellious, illegal and harmful behaviors. Once they reach college, they have better mental health.”
I am confident that the old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” has never been more important than ever. As a community we need to ensure that kids have “13 Reasons” to know why they matter and make a difference in this world.
Often during adolescence, parents can go from heroes to zeroes. And that is why it is essential that our young people find caring adults in our community who can give them reasons to matter. The role of a teacher, coach, scout leader or neighbor has always played a critical part in the development of a young person’s life through adolescence. Today, that caring adult in a young person’s life is essential and can make all the difference in the world.
As a community we all need to do our best to ensure that our young people are provided the safety, support, opportunity and help to reach their full potential and well-being.