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Connecting with generations X/Y youth

9th September 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

The Dock Bookshop, a Black establishment on Meadowbrook Drive in Fort Worth, Texas, was as good a place as any for an old-fashioned dialogue with youth on “Bridging The Generational Gap.” Brainchild of Attorney Bobbie Edmonds, the panel discussion was freewheeling, running the gamut from family, economics and education to cyber addiction.

In attendance were close to a hundred teenagers of every level with some young adults, parents and guardians rounding out the motley audience. They were obviously curious to hear what the guest panelists had to say about anything and everything.

Those panelists were Judge L. Clifford Davis, retired, State District Judge Senior Status, Tarrant County; Ms. Tobi Jackson, First Vice President, Fort Worth ISD School Board; Attorney & Associate Judge Bobbie Edmonds, City of Forest Hill, Texas; Judge Louis Sturns, 213th Judicial District Judge, Tarrant County; Dr. Peter G. Jordan, President of TCC – South Campus; Lieutenant Gene Jones, Deputy Chief of Fort Worth; Staussa Ervin, Ed.D., Assistant Professor/Licensed Professional Counselor; Attorney Faye D. Watson, Texas, PTA Area 17 President, Fort Worth, TX; Attorney Sean Colston, Tarrant County Assistant D.A.; Bobbie Langston, RN, BSN, Registered Nurse; Ivan Tolbert, opera singer.

Two students asked pointed questions about bullying, to which several panelists responded, pointing out that a bully always has personal issues with himself/herself that drive the bullying. Also, the bullied need to know that each person has enough inner resources to be able to fight back successfully. Bullies can be children, adults, at times even the elderly.

Looking around the room, the youngsters present had to be uncomfortably aware that, even on a Saturday, two-thirds or so of them did not have a parent or some family backup there with them, representing the painful reality that only about 33 percent of Black families are nuclear. This is down from a heady peak of over 86 percent that flourished in 1960.

About 4.8 percent of Black males are imprisoned, as compared to 1.9 percent of Hispanic males and 0.7 percent of white males. That disparity parallels in a disconcerting way the ongoing breakdown of the Black nuclear family. Lieutenant Gene Jones put the fear of the law into the youth by spelling out the dire consequences of breaking the law.

Adjacent to the baleful discussion on Black imprisonment, there is the ever-present scourge of a smorgasbord of drugs pushed upon the very young by hardened dealers who sometimes invade and violate the educational sanctity of our schools. It is not uncommon for children in their early teens to be already hooked by one or even by multiple drugs.

The youngsters were apprized of the ready availability of counseling for family or other social problems, while tutorial help is available in school for the disciplines they study.

There is no excuse for any student to feel that sufficient help is not there for any problem, for help at every level is there for the taking and the using as much as each student has need.

Predictably, a number of youths had their inseparable cell phones in hand, seemingly indicating that most likely the rest of them had their phones handy in their pockets or nearby. When I asked what was the most dangerous addiction they have to face today, one alert girl with but a minimum of hesitation nailed the answer, “The cell phone!”

How she knew this is an addiction is clear, for the problem is an obvious one. But how she became aware of the degree of danger of this addiction was not evident. Perhaps she had simply checked the dangers of cyber addiction on the internet itself. With the immediate use of the cell phone being but the tip of the iceberg, the monsters are texting and cyberporn.

But how dangerous is cyber addiction relative to other addictions? First of all, cyber addiction is a true addiction, displaying all the usual symptoms such as feverish adherence to and dogged pursuit of the object of addiction, total absorption into the object and exclusion of all other objects and relations from one’s values, attention, desires, efforts and life itself.

Psychologists who treat this malady find that the victims can be hooked in a more painful way than even heroin or crack addicts, as seen in the severe pain of withdrawal. At the very pits of withdrawal is cyber porn that has seized children, adults, even some clerics.

Our millennials must set their teeth and prove wrong the sociologists who brand them as narcissistic, selfish, uncivil-minded and secular. The ball is in your court, Millennials!

This article originally published in the September 9, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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