Surviving High School in the hood!

How you do in high school can and will have a major impact on your life. The S.A.T’s, overall grades, these impact whether or not you get into a great college or university. They can impact your bottom line as good grades can translate into money in the form of scholarships being made available to you.

That is all fine and nice, but for young people, social acceptance, you know, “being cool” is very important too. In many cases, it is more important to them than any of the aforementioned points.

As adults we may look back in hindsight and one may ask, “who cares what people think”? But think back to when you were in High School, you cared. If you did not, then you were part of a very small population.

There is no question that the teen years are an awkward age. Think on how the body is going through hormonal changes, voices are getting deeper, hair is sprouting in places that were bare, body parts are changing and if that wasn’t  challenging enough, couple that with hundreds of kids around you going through the same thing!

Now let’s complicate things a little more shall we? High school in the inner city and make no mistake, by inner city I’m talking about the hood, the ghetto, gangsta’s paradise, poor neighborhoods in so called dangerous areas.

High school comes with a whole other set of challenges in these neighborhoods. At a recent forum there was a man speaking on how to succeed and stay out of trouble while in high school. The man spoke about team sports, track and field, swimming at the school, tennis and so on. Listening to this, any of the kids in these neighborhoods would laugh out loud and simply ask “what pool”, does he mean “The pompa”?

Most of the kids that are in your classrooms in these areas are kids that have been exposed to violence at a young age, they come from neighborhoods where gangs are commonplace and of course drugs are on the scene. Most of these kids has something to prove, a reputation, street credibility.

It’s a sad thing, but the school yard can be equated to a prison yard. There is a strict hierarchy, unofficial rules and areas that you cannot walk through. The good kids are extorted for homework, money, lunch and anything of value that they may possess. One could say that the school yard is a prepping ground for a prison yard. One can tell which of those kids will go on to do well in a prison yard a few years later.

If this sounds sad to you, that’s because it is sad, a sad reality. The question you should be asking yourself is “how do we change this”? That’s the million dollar question, a question that I do not have the answer to.

A Williamsburg woman named Aura recently wrote the chancellor of education requesting that something be done about the school situation. Her son was attacked and beat up by some punks because the boy refused drugs from them. How’s that for peer pressure? There was a time that you’d get teased for not being “down”, or doing whatever everyone else was doing. These days they beat you up! The story has received some media attention, it is in Spanish, but if you would like to read the news article

The response from the Chancellor at the DOE read along the lines of “Thank you for contacting the office of the school chancellor, rest assured that providing a place that fosters success and ensuring student safety is our top priority. We have forwarded this to the right people. With that, we ask you to please contact your school principal and or local authorities regarding this matter with your son”.

The young man was transferred to another school because he feared for his safety. The problem is that these little punks all know each other and it’s not very difficult figuring out what new school in the area a kid could go to. Now that aside, the young man now has to deal with making new friends, being the new kid, a new curriculum, along with his everyday pressures.

Is it no wonder that teenagers are angry at the world? People wonder how things like Columbine could happen.

Well, here is a prime example. Can you see how a young man going through this could simply snap one day. Because of those punks, his fragile world was turned upside down.

This is where parents like Aura come into play. Though there isn’t much we can do, writing letters, staying active,  removing the kid from the source of violence, all these things help. During that time it can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Give us your thoughts and ideas on how we can help our children succeed in this challenging environment. What can we as parents do to protect our children? Sound off in the comments section.


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