By VoiceWaves Youth Reporters Summer Culbreth and Kazmere Duffey
Pictured Above: Students crowd onto a public bus to get to school in the Southern California city of Long Beach. (Photo by Summer Culbreth)
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Backpack, check. Breakfast, check. Out the door you go and you’re thinking, “Today will be a good day.” But just as you walk to the bus stop, you see the bus fly by. Why didn’t it stop? It was too full. So you wait. The next bus comes and it’s full too, from the front door to the back. So what do you do? You beg the bus driver to let you on. As you enter the bus people are yelling, coughing and laughing in your ear. Every time the bus stops, 25 people nearly knock you over from the force of stopping.
By the time you do manage to get to school, you’re in a bad mood. On top of that, you’re forced to go to detention because you’re late. These are just some of the things that come with the territory when you’re a young person who relies on public transit in Long Beach.
Taking the city bus has become practically mandatory for many students in Long Beach, even while the number of bus lines serving Long Beach residents has shrunk, due to state and local budget cuts. Over the last four years, the city’s municipal transit agency, LB Transit, has undergone a series of service reductions, route eliminations and fare hikes. And it’s about to get worse, especially for the city’s youth.Read more...
This week, clinicians, researchers, insurers and patients have a new handbook for diagnosing mental disorders. The DSM-5 (the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) contains changes that will affect young people specifically, including new guidelines on how to measure and document suicidal behavior in adolescents.
Dr. David Shaffer, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Columbia University, worked on this section of the new manual, and he gave us a little background.
Previously, a suicide attempt was always categorized under two disorders: depression or borderline personality disorder. But Shaffer says that most suicides do not occur within the context of depression -- instead, they are a result of many disorders mixed together, including schizophrenia, anxiety and alcohol abuse.
“So what has been happening until now, if [a teenager] came to the emergency room because they made a suicide attempt, they would be given a diagnosis of depression, because you weren’t allowed to give a diagnosis of a personality disorder under age 18,” he said.
But when a teenager attempts suicide, or is hospitalized for cutting, they're not necessarily depressed, and it's not necessarily an attempt to die, said Shaffer. For adults, suicide is a calculated, planned action. Adolescents have been shown to think about attempting suicide for 20 - 45 minutes before they do it.Read more...
(Picture of a clothing vendor in Dhaka, Bangladesh where Bianca toured this winter.)
By Bianca Brooks
I’ve always had a deep love for fashion. I celebrate fashion week like it’s a holiday. But earlier this year, I realized the true cost of my clothes when I met a group of women I’d been stealing from my whole life.
As part of an exchange program, I traveled eight thousand miles, from Oakland, Calif. to Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On a tour of Dhaka, I visited a factory that was making clothes for some of my favorite brands. I saw hundreds of workers crowded around sewing machines and work tables. The sound of whooshing looms and chemical smell of dye filled the air. But it was watching a young girl, who was maybe 10, sewing a pair of jeans that made me feel sick. My host sister later told me that many of these workers, mostly women and children, were living on less than two dollars a day.
Suddenly, I looked at all the cute outfits I’d picked out for this trip in a completely different light. Before I'd seen the factory, I was so flattered when my new Bangladeshi friends had complimented my casually elegant name-brand button down. They were proud that the tag on the shirt said Bangladesh. But after, all I wanted to do was wrap my traditional Bangladeshi shawl around me to cover the shame I felt.Read more...
By Jaylyn Burns
I’ve been thinking a lot about the violence that is happening in my neighborhood and my city, Oakland, as a whole. It seems that I hear about more people dying every day and the perpetrators are becoming more bold with their violence. There seem to be no boundaries-- people are getting shot in their own homes.
A few weeks ago, my own father was almost killed in front of our house when he was caught in the middle of a gunfight on his way to the store. The fact that he wasn’t the target, but was almost gunned down anyway, made me realize that I don’t know when it will be my turn. Clearly, I don’t even have to be a part of the drama to get killed. I decided to talk to my dad about this experience and see what he had to say about gun violence. Below is an interview with my father.
Adobe Flash Player is not installed. Please download and install it to listen to audio.
The Following aired on KQED-FM.
By: Jahlil Jackson
When I was 12, something happened that made me think buying a gun wasn’t the worst idea. I thought it could give me what I would like to call a "twisted peace of mind."
One morning I was on my way to the bus stop when I heard gunshots. I looked back and saw no one. Then out of nowhere I spotted a guy running towards me, wearing a grey sweat suit with a gun in his hand. I took off in the opposite direction. As I was running I saw someone on the ground, across the street. It was my teenage cousin, lying in a pool of his own blood.
Growing up in West Oakland I’ve witnessed robberies, drug deals, and even people being paid to commit murder. It wasn’t unusual to see my older cousins load their guns before going to the corner store to buy some eggs and milk. Read more...
Adobe Flash Player is not installed. Please download and install it to listen to audio.
This piece was produced by Acces Sacramento.
By Che Vang
Hiram Johnson Student, age 18
“No complaining, no whining, and no excuses,” is a motto Hiram w. Johnson High School’s JROTC instructor, Sergeant Rost, always tells his students to follow. Many high school students think that school is hard enough for them, but that is not the case when they are employed and have to go to school at the same time. According to a school wide survey, roughly 30% of high school students are employed and are still determined to go to school and graduate on time. Most of these students also plan to go on and further education.
High school students who are employed should be acknowledged for the extra work they do, whether it’s just being at work or just at school. Many can tell that the students who find a job while attending high school are the most likely to succeed in life.
Consider this; if you’re working and are completing your school assignments on time, you are already prepared for the real world and the next phase in your life, college. Just knowing that you have a job to go to and after coming back from work, you have to do your homework, you are already holding your priorities to a high standard.Read more...
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) made headlines this week by prohibiting schools from suspending students for “willful defiance.”
If you aren't following every twist and turn of the debate in Calif. over school discipline, you might be thinking, what's the big deal? After all, we're talking about one tiny line-item in the CA education code.
Let’s break it down.
If a teacher or administrator wants to suspend a student from school, they need to cite a reason for the suspension, such as “Attempting to steal school property,” or “Possession of a firearm.” (For a full list, see here.)
Somewhere in the middle of the list is this: “Disruption of school activities or willfully defying the authority of school personnel.”
Here's the problem: that's vague. Defying authority could be anything from simply talking back to a teacher, walking out of class, or refusing to sit in your assigned seat.
Over the years, the number of suspensions that cite this reason has increased dramatically with the rise of zero-tolerance discipline policies at schools.
In 2011 - 2012, Calif. schools doled out 700,000 suspensions -- and 48% of them were for willful defiance.Read more...
Today on the Youth Radio Podcast, Youth Radio reporters share notes from a story in progress about early onset puberty and how it’s affecting puberty education in schools.
My parents always tell me that when it comes to school, I have it a lot easier than they did. When they entered college in the 80s, the encyclopedia was still the go-to source for academic information, and your only tools in the classroom were a notebook, pen, and an open mind. This, to me, is unimaginable. Today's educational technology makes it a lot easier to learn, and a lot easier to cut corners.
For many students, cheating in school has become the norm. As students come up with more sophisticated and high-tech ways to cheat, teachers become better at spotting the scams-- often using their own digital tools. Let the cat and mouse game begin!
Though it is no surprise that technological advancement has made cheating easier, it has actually made catching cheaters easier as well. Many schools now require students to submit their work through the anti-plagarism site Turnitin.com, which sifts through thousands of essays, literary works, and webpages to ensure that students create original work.
Some universities are experimenting with a new program called CourseSmart. It allows professors to track students' reading progress on their E-Readers, to check if someone is skipping pages, not highlighting passages, or just not reading at all. This software, along with other tools, like panoramic cameras and face-scanners at highly secure testing centers, are just a few of the high-tech measures universities have adopted to prevent cheating.Read more...
By: Chantell Williams
Ever wonder what it’s like to own a giggling, spitting, peeing bundle of joy? Well now you can use your phone to find out.
DoSomething.Org has launched a campaign that uses text messages as a way to educate young people about what it’s like to be a parent. The way it works is that you enter your cell phone number or a friend’s, to the website. Then you receive periodic text messages representing a virtual baby. The “parents” will receive about 10 messages like this:
“Poopie Diaper. Change me!” or this: “Wahhhhhh!”
Many sexually-active teens do not fully understand the responsibility that comes along with pregnancy and child raising. The constant reminder of how much work comes with having a baby could encourage teens to wrap it before they tap it. And who doesn’t want that?Read more...