I love teenagers—as should anyone who writes about them and for them. However, yesterday a few teenagers left me feeling something very different than love. I have two best friends. I love them both like sisters and yesterday both of them were violated by teenagers.
One of my friends had her back door kicked in my three teens (not one of them over 17). As my friend said, they would’ve been sadly disappointed when they saw she had nothing to steal, but it doesn’t make it any less violating. Idle minds resort to destructive—sometimes dangerous—behavior. Fortunately, nothing was taken from my friend’s house. Thanks to alert neighbors and the fact that these would-be thieves broke in to the basement and couldn’t get into the main part of the house, she came home to find only a damaged door. Still, it’s scary.
My other friend was violently attacked yesterday by a 17yr old girl. My friend has been a social worker for 15yrs and has never had anything like that happen to her. Unfortunately, her job takes her to terrible neighborhoods, into sketchy homes and around unstable people. But she has dedicated her life to helping teens who need shelter, food and education.
I don’t get this behavior, but maybe I’m not meant to understand what would provoke teenagers to kick in a door or physically attack a person who is there to help you. Mental instability speaks for a lot of it, but I think there is also a lack of structure, a lack of morals and a lack of hope. When you feel like you have no chance, why try?
I think about that when I’m writing. While every story doesn’t have to end happily, I think we owe it to our teenage readers to show them another alternative to violently acting out. Does that mean we don’t write about drugs, sex and violence? That’s certainly not what I’m saying, nor am I saying we have to have moral of the story either. We have to tell the truth because kids are smart and will know when the there is bullsh*t on the pages.
The problem is these teens kicking in doors and attacking people aren’t reading our books. If they were, I can almost guarantee they wouldn’t want to engage in such destructive activities. When you know there is a world out there bigger and better than what you know, you begin to hope. Maybe I’m corny or misguided, but I believe hope changes everything.
My question is how do we reach these violent, door-kicking teens? Because I honestly don’t know.