Solving problems one by one
There’s no coincidence in the fact that Carson City is trying to establish a comprehensive mentoring program at the same time statewide statistics show continuing problems among teenagers.
Mentors can provide the kind of role models that teenagers may not be getting at home, or from their peers. So problems like drinking, drugs and teenage sex can be addressed one on one, the best way to get the message across.
The Mentoring 2000 Task Force is looking for money to begin a comprehensive program and has approached a variety of boards and agencies throughout the community. Mentoring is not new – other programs already exist in Carson City, such as in schools – but the task force wants to hire a full-time director and extend mentoring to places like the Boys & Girls Club.
While mentors can help in all sorts of ways, a glimpse at the problems they need to tackle can be seen in the Nevada Department of Education’s survey of high-school students.
It showed marijuana use, drinking and teenage sex are on the rise since the last survey in 1997. The good news was that violence, and incidents of weapons on campus, are down. The wave that has followed highly publicized school shootings seems to have done some good.
But, clearly, more good can be done by adults talking one on one with teenagers about the choices they are making with drugs, alcohol and unwanted pregnancies.
That’s what life experience is all about. There are many paths to take, and mentors can expose young people to the ones that lead onward and upward.
Wiping out such problems is an unrealistic goal; the Education Department’s survey will never get down to 0 percent. But we have in front of us ways to reverse the trends.