SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Troubled youth
By Rhonda Ball


March 08, 2006
Wednesday PM

I wanted to write a letter to voice my opinion on why I think we're having the problems with our teens that we are with drugs, drinking, drop outs, teen pregnancy, etc. There have been a lot of letters recently regarding the problems with the abuse of drugs and alcohol by our youth. As you can see, I've added a few more things that I think are real problems as well.

I've read many letters as to what people think is causing these problems that seem to be getting bigger and bigger every year. People stated that they thought the reason why so many kids are turning to drugs and alcohol are because Ketchikan is so boring, there's nothing to do. Another reason, because of their parents, family lives. I do agree with both of these reasons as being a PART of the problem. It is very easy to blame this boring little town with nothing to do, or even the bad parents who would rather be a friend, than be a parent.

I believe there's an even bigger reason for these problems to be happening, and not only to the kids in our town, but all over the country. I believe that these problems have been a long time in the making.

Before I get started, I'd just like to acknowledge all of the kids out there who do make the right choices, and the parents who do try their hardest to teach their kids right. All kids are not bad, even the ones who do make the occasional bad choice, or even the ones who are in constant trouble, they all need our time and effort, if we give up on them, they will not make it. You kids who make the right choices will reap the rewards in your future for yourselves and your future families.

I was born and raised here in Ketchikan, only leaving for 2 years so my husband could attend school in Tacoma. I thought I'd never want to return here once getting out, but here we are!!! Ketchikan is a hard place to stay away from. I do feel very fortunate that Ketchikan is a small town and everyone pretty much knows everyone else. I like knowing that people out there know my teenage son, in some ways it is like our kids are being raised by a community. Ketchikan has changed dramatically over the years, but still, there is not much to do. I can remember there not being much to do when I was a kid, I was always complaining too that I was bored. Basically, it's the same. I wasn't much into sports but I found things to do, I also attended church with my mom, I still made bad choices. I've done my fair share of lying to my mom and dad to get out of the house to do the very things they told me not to do. They always tried to teach me to make right choices, but I didn't, not all the time. I can remember being a teenager, really, it wasn't that long ago. The world was not such a scary place then.

Take a look at the society that we are now living in and how things that were not acceptable 25 years ago, are now very socially acceptable. I believe that the way the world is these days is making it more and more difficult for us parents to raise our kids in an acceptable manner. I also believe that with each passing generation things are being pushed to the edge of acceptable, that things are getting more and more relaxed as the years go by.

I can remember when I was a kid, when I'd make a wrong choice, I was punished. Maybe restriction, or getting a swat, or a slapped mouth for talking back. If I was on restriction, I was on restriction, I couldn't do anything, no social life, no phone, no nothing. These days, if you even raise your voice and say too harsh of a word to your kids, you'll get social services called on you, or possibly the police because someone will be saying that you're abusing your child. Not so many years ago people, this was called DISCIPLINE!!! I believe that disciplining your child teaches them to RESPECT you as a parent, as an adult. Not only were you as a parent allowed to discipline your kids, but other adult role models were also allowed to do so without being afraid of having these authorities called on them. Kids these days know this and use this as a power against their parents, adult role models, that if they don't like what they're hearing or that they're being punished, that they can threaten you with making that phone call. The sad thing about this is that it doesn't even have to be an abusive situation, the kids can be lying and still, all it takes is a phone call. I believe that kids have lost all respect for adults. I think that's one of our biggest problems. Don't take that the wrong way, not all kids are disrespectful, and I also believe that kids deserve a certain amount of respect from adults, and are entitled to it, AFTER they EARN it. Today, kids just expect it, because that's what society tells them. Try walking down the street, notice how many of these kids YOU have to move over for, or listen to the things they talk about, they do not think twice about the awful words coming out of their mouths, their vulgar language.

Smoking age is 19... take a look around you to see how many kids are smoking, and how old they are. I bet you'll see a lot of them are 13, 14, 15. My son got caught smoking a couple of years ago and he had to go to court, oh man, was he in trouble with us. There were at least 2 dozen other families there that day. Some of the parents were making a joke of it, laughing about it with their kids, some others were acting as if it was a big inconvenience for them to be there at all. What message was this sending to our kids??? My husband and I do not smoke but we believe that because society portrays smoking as glamorous, we still struggle with our son's smoking. It's cool, it's the thing to do...

Another huge problem... When I was in school, there was NEVER any question about whether or not I was going to stay in school and graduate, I just did. Dropping out of school was a really bad thing then. Now, a very high percentage of kids drop out, they don't even think twice about dropping out. They don't want to be there, it's too much of a bother getting up every day, it's too hard. I know dozens of kids who have dropped out, they're supposed to be getting their GED's. I'd bet that 90% of them have never gotten that far, again, it's too much work. Instead, they stay up all night, sleep all day, hang around the schools all day waiting for their buddies to get out so they have something to do, and make bad choices.

Clothing... now I'll be the first to say that just because of the way someone dresses doesn't make them a bad kid!!! But, take a look around you to see what kids are wearing. Have they ever heard of being modest!?!? They certainly don't leave much to the imagination, do they? Boys with their pants hanging half way down their butts with their underwear sticking out, girls with the low waisted pants so their thong underwear strings can be seen in the back when they bend over, that is, if they're even wearing any panties!!! Tank tops with the spaghetti straps, tight fitting so their private parts show through their shirts, or so short that most of their mid sections show. A really disturbing thing I've noticed is that our younger kids are starting to dress this way too!!!

Everything is tattooed or pierced... EVERYTHING!!! As far as tattoos go, now I can't be too much of a hypocrite because I do want one myself, but mine will be tastefully placed. My gripe about tattoos in general, the places that they are placed. Of course they are put in places that are supposed to be private, and of course they need to be shown off, which means that even more body parts will have to be exposed!!! Piercings, what ever happened to the run of the mill pierced ears? Now, those poor little ear lobes have to be stretched out as far as possible and EVERY body part has to be pierced, I mean EVERY body part. First of all, with all the diseases out there, what are these kids thinking? Not to mention all those pierced body parts getting infected because they're in hard to reach places, or just because of improper care.

Today, kids are being left home alone at younger and younger ages with no supervision. Yes, I do understand about both parents, or single parents needing to work and not being able to afford to pay for any type of day care, but I don't think that's the case in all situations. Not only are the kids being left home alone, but I've seen many kids at even the younger elementary age level just "hanging out", walking around town, at all hours of the day and night. What about all those sexual predators that are in and out of town, or that live here. I was on my way home from the hospital one night at about 2:00 in the morning, I stopped by McDonalds drive-thru and there were teenagers ( and younger ) all over the place... what happened to curfew? What do you think these kids are finding to do at these hours of the night? When I was younger, kids were scared of being caught out after curfew.

Kids behind the wheel... They are getting younger and younger too. It seems to me, like there are more and more accidents involving young drivers. I think that some parents are just too eager to allow their kids to grow up too fast. Driving used to be a privilege, now it's just something else that's expected when they turn 16.

TEEN PREGNANCY... This subject touches me way too close to home. I got pregnant when I was 19, I thought I was way too young then. I WAS way too young... Well, our son made us grandparents when he was only 16. Don't get me wrong, our grandson is absolutely beautiful, he's also very well cared for and very well loved, and yes, our son is very involved in his life. My point here is that teen pregnancy is also something that has become way too socially acceptable. Sure, he and his girlfriend got some looks, but they were still very accepted. Teenagers are becoming parents at younger and younger ages, and it's accepted. Speaking of adults in general, people don't get married anymore, they just live together and have babies. What message does that send out to our kids??? I see 20 somethings, I KNOW 20 somethings who go from relationship to relationship having babies with many different people, nobody's married, nobody stays together. I do not know of many families who have 2 parent households, most moms and dads are divorced, unhappy, separated. I was always very fortunate to have my parents stay married my entire life, they still are married, over 40 year. That's a rare thing...

I'm a kid from the 80's, the music from then is ( for lack of a better word ) ROCKIN'!!! We absolutely had the best music. Have you heard what your kids are listening to? It's crap!!! Not only do some of them sound bad, but they look bad too! Marolyn Manson, Slip Knot, ICP ( Insane Clown Posse ), Cradle of Filth, just to name a few. I'm sorry kids, but this is not music. I LOVE MUSIC, but I also like to be able to understand what the bands that I listen to are saying, to be able to sing along. My son listens to some of the bands that I named, he has a very wide range of music that he listens to, even a lot of stuff from my generation, but when he listens to some of this new stuff, I just have to leave the room. Music has been pushed to the edge, with having to label some with those Parental Guidance stickers, just so parents can know that those particular cd's may not be suitable for younger ears. Every other word being an expletive, talking about sex, violence, you name it. These Parental Guidance stickers don't help, our younger kids still get their hands on it.

Television... You CANNOT turn on the television anymore without seeing all kinds of sex or violence, or drug use, on regular cable. Oh sure, of course they can't show a woman's nipple, her crotch, or her behind, or a man's private parts, but they can certainly get away with showing an entirely bare man and woman basically having sex, being very passionate without actually showing all those REALLY private parts. Kids know what they're doing, it's basically an instruction manual. Not much is left to the imagination. Be sure to be sitting with your younger kids so that you can be ready to explain! Unless of course, your kids are watching all of this while they're home alone. Commercials... beer commercials, hard liquor commercials, cigarette commercials, lingerie commercials, diet pill commercials, even something as innocent as a shampoo commercial, ALL glamorizing sex, drinking, smoking.

Movies are going to the VERY edge... American Pie, The 40 year old Virgin, Blow, you get the point. Remember, music doing the same thing. Video games, some of which are very violent, these are also influencing our kids.

AND, it's all become socially acceptable.

Now, a big one for me...the computer. It's a FABULOUS tool, making us all smarter, helping us in our every day lives. But, the information that you can get from this wonderful tool is not always helpful and can be somewhat destructive. It is so incredibly easy for kids to just log on and access ANYTHING they want, internet porn sites, just to name one, but the possibilities are endless... just let you imagination run wild.

Drugs and alcohol in general, they have become so easily accessible to our kids. I've read about so many kids that I know who have gotten in trouble for drinking or doing drugs, kids I know as young as 14. Where do they get it from? Sometimes I'm amazed at how informed all these kids are about all the different drugs or alcohol there is. Used to be just beer, now it's hard liquor, and lots of it. Marijuana is also just a starter drug, there is much scarier stuff out there. That is the basic attitude now.

I know that we cannot be with our kids every second of the day, but just realize that all these things are out there, making it harder for our kids to make the right choices. Our world has become so relaxed on all these things that used to be wrong, and some restrictions, like being able to discipline your own kids have become too strict. Of all these "dangers" are out there, I believe that kids really need to get back to the basics of respecting their parents, respecting adults.

KIDS... Remember also that a tasteful tattoo can be a nice thing, a pierce here OR there is kind of nice, but for heaven's sake, pull up those pants, we don't want to see your behind, or your underwear!!! Put on a less revealing shirt, respect yourself!!! Stop listening to that crappy music, it is sending out bad messages!!! PLEASE make better decisions, things out there are getting more and more dangerous as the years go by.

I'm not a prude, although I think this letter makes me sound old. I like to watch television and movies as much as the next guy, all of it, violence and all, I also do want that tattoo someday, but it will be tastefully placed. I have my ears pierced, not my whole body. I also LOVE music, it's a big part of my life, but I need to hear what my kids are listening to. My computer, I could never live without it. I do stand firm on my opinion that kids should not dress so revealing or be left home alone at such young ages. Parents need to know what their kids are doing, ask questions, know their friends, what they're doing, and where they are, all the time. Set those limits, be prepared to not be their favorite person sometimes, in the end I think they will understand why you had to be "mean" to them. I can remember not liking my parents, back in the day when disciplining was still o.k.

Rhonda Ball
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Rhonda Ball was born and raised in Ketchikan, she has a son who is 17 and a daughter who is 12.



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