In Northern Indiana it has now become a rarity for a student to attend a four-year college upon their graduation from high school. In recent years, small towns across the country have lost their innocent façade as their teenagers struggle with increased teen pregnancy rates, drop out rates, and with the pressure thrust upon young women by society and the media to maintain a certain image.
We all know what that “image” is. Teenage girls suffer from a lack of true role models in our society—if there are any decent women for them to look up to, they are kept away from the public’s eye as Britney Spears and her poor parenting skills and Paris Hilton and her openly promiscuous lifestyle grace the cover of every magazine and even are featured on the evening news.
Upon my relocation to Northern Indiana from Brooklyn, NY, I was shocked to find that the students I had taught previously were less “at risk” than the teenagers roaming around my new home. Due to the financial problems many families face with the decline of America’s economy, both parents are forced to work and are often not at home to spend time with their children. Teens are left alone after school, resulting in more accessibility to sexual activity, drug use, and other activities that are typically harder to participate in with an adult present.
Many parents have the same question—what can be done with their teenager?
Though the situation seems bleak, as teenagers are not supported by adults like they used to be and lack responsible role models, there are ways that the community can help out.
Aiyana, a sixteen-year-old sophomore, has managed to keep a positive reputation in her school by being an active member of her school’s swim team. Aiyana also recently started a chapter of GlamourGals, a nonprofit whose mission is to build responsible teen leaders through their interaction with the elderly. Along with her best friend, Kourtney, Aiyana and other girls from her school go up to four times a month to a local nursing home to interact with the women residents and to give them complimentary makeovers and manicures.
Though it often seems that the teenagers in this country have gone out of control, it’s through instances like this that there still is hope. A few girls visiting a nursing home could prove to be contagious!