Violence among teenagers has been around since the days of Cain & Abel. These days, however, it seems episodes are getting nastier and more numerous in our schools and communities. There is always hope for change, at least through acquiring more information on the subject.
Cambridge Police Officer Jesse Peck and Isanti Police Officer Adam Gau will lead a townhall seminar on Teen Violence from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on the west side of Cambridge. Gau is the liaison officer at Isanti Middle School, and Peck is the K-12 liaison officer in Cambridge. It is a free event sponsored by Cambridge-Isanti Community Education.
The two will be passing along information they picked up from a “School Shooters & Teen Violence” speaking engagement by Phil Chalmers in Duluth this past January. There will be a Q & A session at the end, plus a number of social service agencies will set up informational booths for more options.
“We’re basically not trying to tell parents how to be parents. We’re just trying to provide them with information about stuff they might not realize is out there,” explained Gau. “We’ll be giving handouts that include websites that even I didn’t realize existed– on anything from music lyrics to medications to cell phone tracking services.”
There will be graphic content shared at the seminar, so the target audience is marked as parents of middle school-aged students and above. Kids are not recommended to attend with their parents. A “How well do you know your teenager?” survey will be among the handouts.
“We’re not going to sugarcoat anything. This is what’s going on; this is what we see,” said Gau. “If have one parent gets something out of our presentation, it will absolutely be worth it.”
Violence enhanced through many avenues
The Columbine School Massacre occurred on April 20, 1999 and was a major eye-opener to how far things can be carried out during which a total of 12 students and one teacher were murdered by two arms-packing students. Gau and Peck’s emphasize that we don’t need to just accept violence as being a natural part of the human condition.
“We’ve had three school shootings in Minnesota the past two years,” continued Peck. “In both our presentations, we’re utilizing YouTube videos of fights here in our schools which were videotaped and posted which represent Violent Media, used as a stepping stone to further the instigator’s bullying or to make themselves appear stronger within the community of school grounds.”
Gaming will be discussed, such as the multi-million dollar seller “Modern Warfare 3” and “Grand Theft Auto”– a choice piece of entertainment which rewards cop killings and random shootings.
Added Gau, “Also in the Violent Media category, hopefully parents realize that you can go to a Red Box at McDonald’s, Wal-mart or Cub and rent Saw 7. Do parents realize what’s actually in there? Some of the stuff is so grotesque that even as a police officer it turns my stomach. All you need to rent it is a credit card or a debit card– it doesn’t ask for an ID. And these kids are doing it.”
Drug and alcohol abuse’s effects on increased violence trends will also be on the floor at the seminar. Particular key issue areas are prescription drug abuse, along with the rise of synthetic drugs. “Punch Bowl Parties”– essentially a wapitui with pills tossed in the mix– is a creepy new fad which could have disastrous results with the chemicals playing off one another.
On May 7, Officers Gau and Peck gave a Teen Violence class for District 911 school staff which was a stepping stone to the May 16 townhall meeting.
“If this goes over well, I would like to do two town meetings per year on teen-oriented subjects– obviously not using the same exact material. Perhaps we could bring parents back who used some of the information successfully,” said Peck.
Here are examples of the informational handouts to be discussed at the May 16 “Teen Violence” townhall seminar at the Cambridge AFRC.
TOP 8 CONTRIBUTORS TO TEEN VIOLENCE
Violent Social Media: Video games, movies, porn, sexting
Bullying/Cyberbullying: A vicious cycle
Family Dynamics: Lack of supervision, parenting, mentoring
Lack of communication: Between family, friends & mentors
Religion: Recent changes in morals & values
Economics: How has the struggling economy played a role
Drug/Alcohol Use: Including synthetic drugs out there
Peer pressure: The age-old need to fit in
WHAT EVERY KIDS WANTS AND NEEDS
• Peace • Love • Training • Fun • Discipline • Family conferences