The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

June/July 2002
VETERANS AGAINST DRUGS TASK FORCE REPORT
   
 

Teach Your Children

BY HERB WORTHINGTON, CHAIR
 

National statistics indicate that incidents of violence, weapons, and substance abuse are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19. Here is another chilling fact: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10-19 years. Did I get your attention?

Much of today's violence starts out innocently enough. But when does teasing go over the line and turn into bullying? That is the hot topic around much of the nation. We must make our young people aware of the choices they have when dealing with conflicts. Given the diversity of our society, educators are realizing that it takes an entire community to be committed to demonstrating respect, caring, and self-management in interactions with one another. That is part of the difficulty. The "family unit" that many of us remember is in many cases a thing of the past. Our young people need to belong. Unfortunately, the need to belong often turns to a different family unit - the gang.

It is important to recognize the signals and take measures to listen to our youth before they turn to gangs for comfort. Once there, it is nearly impossible to get them out. They become consumed with the violence and try to achieve respect and love through whatever means they have at their disposal. We have to teach our children to identify and deal with prejudice and to respect their own and everyone else's backgrounds and cultures. 

Peer leadership interaction has worked wonders, and role playing seems to have a positive effect on the school climate as a whole. Veterans Against Drugs has taken on another aspect in talking to our youth about drugs. It is how to deal with the violence. Students and educators from different locations have come to us and asked for help.

Our program has been endorsed by other veterans groups, the President's Anti Drug Council, law enforcement agencies, and educators. But we are still one person short to make it a true success. That person is you. Call VVA national headquarters and speak to Deborah Williams, or e-mail me at hworthington@vva.org Make a difference in your community.

   

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