Category Archives: Intolerance

Texting and Driving: DON’T Do It!

You’re cruising down the road, driving in your car with a few of your friends. You feel a buzz on your leg and see you got a text message. There’s not much traffic on the road, and you’re not going too fast, so you decide to open the text and read it real quick. It’ll just take you a few seconds. No big deal.

Just a few seconds of taking your eyes of the road can cost someone their life, whether it’s you, your friends, another driver, or a pedestrian… or all of the above.

Did you know that texting and driving is now the leading cause of death among teenagers? More teens die from that than anything else, even drinking and driving. Over 3,000 teens die every single year from texting and driving… and about 11 teens die everyday because of it.

Here are some statistics:

  • more than 50% of teens admit to texting while driving
  • drivers are 23 times more likely to get in an accident if texting while driving
  • in 2011, 23% of car crashes involved cell phones… that’s 1.3 million crashes
  • 1 in 5 drivers even admit to surfing the web while driving (what)
  • texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year
  • it causes 330,000 injuries per year

Think about it this way: if you’re sending a text, or even just looking at one, it’ll take you a minimum of about 5 seconds. If you’re driving 55 mph, in 5 seconds you will drive the length of a football field. If a football field were full of cars and people walking, would you drive down it without looking? I sure hope not.

A lot of people think there are ways to make texting and driving more “safe.” For instance, holding your phone up towards your windshield so you can “kind of see” the road. Or only texting while stopped at a stop sign or red light. Sometimes people will increase their following distance behind the car in front of them, or they’ll just read texts but not write any. 

Nope. Accidents and deaths are still caused when drivers do these things to be “safer.”

The bottom line is, just don’t do it. Make sure you text everyone back before you start driving, or just check your phone when you get to that destination. If you need to talk to someone because of an emergency, you can use a hands-free device and call them. But don’t put your and other peoples lives in dangers just to text your crush and say “whats up,” or whatever you feel is so urgent. Because even if you’ve made it this far without any problems, one day you might become one of the statistics and something horrible will happen because of your texting and driving. Just don’t risk it.

And another thing, if your friend is driving you somewhere and starts texting, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask them to not text and drive. Because really, YOUR life is in their hands. It’s not cool of them to do something that could put your life at risk. It isn’t rude to ask them to knock it off.

 

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Embracing Diversity

I don’t know about you, but I love to people watch. Not in a creepy way at all, but I just find it fascinating how each and every person is so radically different! Not only are they unique with their physical attributes, but their background in which they come from. Not two people in this world have shared the exact same experiences. Although they might have been a part of the same event, they each perceive and process it so differently. I think this is absolutely beautiful! All people view the world from their own, unique set of eyes.

ImageIt’s easy to assume things based on someone’s appearance or circumstance. So many of us place labels on others based on their gender, their race, sexual orientation, what they wear, their hobbies, or just anything that we find about them that is different than ourselves. Many feel that if they tear down another group it would somehow make them look more superior. When in reality, it doesn’t do good for anyone at all! It is just plain hurtful . Just because one’s genes, experiences or interests make them stand out amongst the rest, does not give anyone the right to put them down.

What if instead of teasing someone for being different, we loved them for that uniqueness about them? What if we strove to embrace the areas in which we may not agree or understand? The world could be completely transformed if only we choose to adjust our mindset of how we view others. All change begins with treating others the way we would like to be treated. The next time you see someone being picked on, stand up for them! They are human, which gives them the right to be love and accepted for who they are. Don’t forget the power you hold to influence someone’s life! Be the person who is passionate about diversity and set that example to those around you!

School Violence

It happens everywhere, and often times it goes unnoticed. Bullying. Most, if not everyone, at one time or another has dealt with bullying either having directed it at someone or have been the target of it. You may not think that it happens at your school, but look for it and you will find it does indeed exist. Bullying can come in the form of rumors, jokes, pushing or shoving, name calling, among many others. The intent is to harm someone who has something different about them, and this isn’t right or ever okay to be apart of.

Often times the victims won’t share because they are embarrassed or afraid of the reaction by their peers or other adults. If you are the victim of bullying go to a counselor, teacher, or trusted adult for more help. Or, if you have not been directly affected, but still want to help stop bullying in your community, start a club at your school, talk to administrators and teachers about what you can do, or even start an after-school group. It takes an entire community to effectively combat bullying, so get your friends, family members, and other organizations to partner with you in standing up against this social issue. Test your knowledge of bullying by clicking here, you may be surprised at some of the myths of bullying that I know I have even fallen for!

You may believe that it is just a teen issue where kids are only initiating their peers and this isn’t a big deal. However, often times, bullying doesn’t always go away as you become an adult. Adults can be bullies too and even take it out on their own children, peers, and colleagues. Did you know that 60% of bullies have at least one criminal conviction because their behavior carries on into adulthood? Check out these websites for more information about what steps you can take to help get rid of bullying.

Facing History and Ourselves

It Gets Better

The Bully Project

Dealing with Family Drama

There is no doubt that every family is dysfunctional (even the ones who look like they have a perfect family, DON’T) and has some drama in their lives. For instance, sisters constantly bickering and trying to out-do the other, or a father who is only invested in his son if he is athletic and successful, or a mother who is over critical of her daughters. Some form of drama has effected our lives one way or another. Maybe a friend you know has runaway from home, or is cutting themselves to escape the pain, or does drugs to numb the mind and body to escape. You are not alone.

Did you know

Half of all runaways left home because of a disagreement with a parent or guardian.

Please know that are other ways to deal with family drama than running away or hurting yourself by cutting or drugs. It is agreed that a certain amount of time away from the conflict can help calm people down or help put things in perspective, but don’t let that time span increase too much. Sometimes that can do more harm than good.

Here are a few suggestions to dealing with family drama. One of the first few things to try is family mediation. Usually these services don’t cost much, if anything, and is set up with everyone in mind. Typically there is someone around your age that is advocating (aka speaking for/supporting) you and there is someone there to advocate for your parent(s)/guardian(s) while you both try to sort out your differences, with some extra help, of course. If you want more information on family mediation, stop by Youth Outreach and we can help you set up an appointment with one in our county. If you aren’t able to find a place that offers family mediation, you can always talk to a school counselor or teacher.

 It is also important to look at those individuals in our lives and think about where they came from, what childhood they may have had, and what life experiences they endured. By doing this, you are able to see why they are acting a certain way or doing a certain something. It may help you put things into perspective, although it may not be easy.

Depending on the situation, you can always set up a board that allows everyone to write down messages on things that are bothering them so that nothing builds up and explodes

Write down your feelings in a journal. This will help sort out feelings you have and really help you figure out exactly what you want to say. 

Go workout or get involved in some extracurricular activity that can help you express your frustration or emotions. This may look like joining an art class or theater class or if you need something that you can really take your anger out on, join a sports club. The point of this is to get your aggression out, but not on others.

These are just a few ideas on how to deal with family drama before taking more extreme measures. If you have any, please post them because they could help someone else!

Bringing Cultural Awareness to Your Community

It is pretty obvious to see that not everyone is the same as you. You are a unique individual, but there are certain characteristics, traits, beliefs, etc. that are common and tie you to another person or a group(s) of people.  This isn’t a bad thing, but something that you can use to connect with others and find common ground. However, there is a line that can be crossed if you take these uniting commonalities to use that union against other people who are dissimilar to you. This is also known as a hate crime. Essentially, when you target groups that are different from you and you “hate on them” by being disrespectful to them or physically doing something to them that is harmful.

Usually a hate crime is because of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, color, disability, or National Origin. On the National Crime Prevention Council’s website, it says that the a hate crime can be referred to as “not only…an attack on one’s physical self, but it is also an attack on one’s very identity.” Bias, prejudice, and bigotry are the causing factors for hate crime. And, what the most astonishing thing to find out is that half of all hate crimes are committed by youth between the ages of 15 and 24!! Most of the time, these crimes are committed because these youth have been misinformed or are ignorant of the group they are targeting for their hate.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be this way: it is learned behavior. You, as a youth and adult, can change this and make your community accepting and decrease its number of hate crimes committed. More likely than not, if you look at things beyond the physical appearances, you will find that those who may look, think, or act differently than you can share some common interests with you. So, rather than staying away or making derogatory comments towards someone who is unlike than you, try to get to know them and their story. It may surprise you that you find a new friend or that your previous perception was wrong. Remember that you are as different to them as they are to you and a hate crime can easily be put onto you, so if you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to others.

Another thing you can do is ask others to stop saying hateful things or demeaning comments about a certain group. Telling them that it is offensive to hear that is a way to stand up to hate crimes. Also, if someone continually does it, take your complaint to someone with authority who can deal with the situation in another manner. This may not change anything overnight, but you are making the world more peaceful and a better place to live by speaking up!