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<v Narrator>One year ago today, 13 year old Stephne Givens was stabbed to death by a 12 year old girl outside Jefferson Middle School. A child's death at the hands of another child shocked the community and spurred a renewed look at youth and violence. In the spring of 1996 with a grant from the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, WXXI TV and AM 1370, the Democrat and Chronicle and Times Union and News Source 13 WOKR contracted the Rochester Research Group to conduct a survey of seventeen hundred and seventy one seventh through 12th grade students throughout Monroe County. We asked about their attitudes on violence and how violence affects their lives. In June, we brought 60 of these youngsters together in a youth summit to give voice to the survey data. The following documentary is based on what our children had to say in the survey and the youth summit. <v Student 1>Regardless of where you live, you know, violence will it will be there.
<v Student 2>Worse, and it scares me. It scares me, scares me. <v Student 3>People carry knives, guns, razors, box cutters. <v Student 4>You can't go to someone and talk about it because what are they gonna do about it? <v Student 5>You come from your parents, they're supposed to bring you up in a way where you should know right and wrong. <v Student 6>We are what they have made us. <v Student 7>Kids do what they want to do and the parents, some just don't care. <v Student 8>All we want is someone to make us safe. <v Kristal Lowry>Anybody's child can die today, tomorrow, or anybody can grow up. <v Aledia Givens>I still grieve, but I don't I don't grieve in sadness. I grieve mostly in in joyfulness, you know, knowing that, she was a good girl. Yes, they called her Peppy when she was a little. But this is very sweet because she says she used to look like Popeye's little baby.
<v Kristal Lowry>She liked music a lot. She liked to dance around a lot. Sing and stuff. <v Aledia Givens>She was definitely a normal 13 year old who act like a 13 year old, not a 15 year old, not a 17 year old, not even a 10 year old, a 13. She was right there, 13 year old. She loved, she love life. She could solve problems that she got into. She would always resolve them and she wouldn't she wouldn't fight. <v Kristal Lowry>She had an argument with this girl and she just before the day before, you know, September 20, they have made up. And Stephne was like, you know, we need to make up and stuff because you never know. I can die tomorrow. <v Dr. Joe Accongio>My vice principal came running into me and told me that someone had been injured very seriously out the front. So I went out the front and the first thing I saw was the weapon. What was on it, and then I saw Stephne on the ground.
<v Aledia Givens>I see the yellow tape and when I see the yellow tape, it just it really I didn't I didn't think of I didn't think of her being gone that I think I just thought of somebody was hurt. <v Dr. Joe Accongio>And I leaned over and looked at her and there wasn't anything else I can do that the folks who are working with her weren't already doing. I watched her and kept going in and out, bringing more folks and giving more information to people, directing the whole thing that was going on here and coming back out to look at her and. <v Aledia Givens>The lady came out and she says she says, we we're sorry just seeing my child lay there and just just look like she was just sleeping really, you know, just just sleeping and I just looked at her and looked at her and just said, go take my breath and give it, you know, give give her give her life back. Better let her chest just breathe, you know? But that wasn't happening. So all I could do was just lay up there on the bed with her.
<v Dr. Joe Accongio>Walked into my office and the other young lady was being cradled by one of our sentries. And my response was just amazing to me. I just felt like hugging her and holding her and and comforting her. And here was a baby sitting there, totally hysterical. Convinced she had absolutely no sense that what she had done could have led to the death of another youngster. <v Aledia Givens>So this is a really big part of our lives that's really gone. <v Kristal Lowry>That's one thing she said to me was I love you. And, you know, she's gone out in the world in flash, but she's here in spirit. And when I die, we still want to have our marching together. <v Aledia Givens>What if I could have been there at that eighth grade graduation in that 12th grade graduation. Graduation from college. And that marriage, you know, and a lot of kids and, you know, in life itself.
<v Student 9>Will violence shorten your life? <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Thirty two percent of them said that, yeah, they think violences will shorten their lives, that's a third. That's one in three. That's five hundred and sixty two of our kids. Then another forty two percent said they don't know, allowing for the fact that it might. And only twenty six percent, just over a quarter of them, in other words, said, no, it won't. <v Student 10>Oh, you have to worry about just going down the street and wondering what's going to happen to you if somebody's just going to come out and rob you or something or just leave you for dead. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>Violence is in the suburbs. It's in the classrooms. It's in the hallways. It's it's on the playgrounds. It's in the it's in the neighborhood. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Those who live in the city, forty seven percent said, yes, violence would shorten their lives. And only about twenty two percent of those who live in the eastern suburbs said that in about 30 percent of those who live in the western suburbs. So we see a little bit of a difference between east and west, the east suburbs feeling safe as the western suburbs feeling a little bit less safe. But those who live in the city feeling least safe of all.
<v Student 11>So many things is happening today that you could be walking down the street and get killed. So I feel that, yeah, I do think that my life will be over because of violence. <v Student 12>My mom said oh, you don't really have a whole lot of experience with violence, so you have no idea. You never listen to what I say, like in school. Look at us. We're Black, white, Asian, European in suburb city. We've had all of us experience violence. <v Student 1>Regardless of what where you live, you know, violence will it will be there because it's all on the people it's not the where you live it's how you move. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>And I think our society is less inhibited. It's everywhere, it's it's in our entertainment and it's in our sports. It's in our politics. There have always been crimes. But once again, I think the. I think this disinhibited society, I think we're also seeing crime seems to have a life of its own and doesn't seem to you know, we used to be able to say to children, well, if you're careful and if you if you take care of yourself, you'll be safe. And I don't think we can give those kinds of assurances.
<v Student 13>If someone were to threaten you or hurt you, who would you rely on for protection? <v Student 14>My friends. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Now, here, they can answer several different answers. As many as applied to them. Seventy eight percent of them said they rely on their friends. That was followed. Sixty five percent of them said on their parents, one or both parents. Third, most frequently heard response, however, was I'd have to rely on myself. That was forty six percent. <v Dr. Michael Lynch>Seniors in high school. If they are worried about something or they are troubled by something. Will appropriately probably try to work it out themselves. You can look at it. You could see him finding a different way where where some kids may feel isolated. It's one thing to be competent and independent. It's another thing to feel isolated and without recourse. <v Student 15>They spend more time with their peers than they do with their parents. And so it's natural, I think, that they pick up behaviors, you know, from their peers more so than their parents.
<v Student 16>Nowadays in society, parents work. They work two jobs. Both parents work. They're never home. And when they get home, they when they try to open up to their kids, their kids called after them because they're never there. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>I'd have to rely on myself was the answer that thirty eight percent of our white respondents gave and sixty two percent of our nonwhite respondents. So there is a lot stronger sense of self-reliance in the nonwhite community and not necessarily instead of perhaps in addition to. But there's a sense of independence. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>The kids take the situation into their own hands and they look to their friends and they try to figure out make sense of the world themselves. And it's too bad. It's a big loss and it's it it means that we it just means that we can't protect them, that as adults were where we don't have the institutions. Or the family support to protect them. We can't say everything will be all right.
<v Jason>I ain't got no mother no father. Got no mother since I was two. So basically, I live with my grandmother, but she can't work, she she's disabled and all that. So I had to go out and work for my own house to get what I needed to survive with my brother. <v John Rosati>It's tragic. But you see you see Jason repeated many times over in the Monroe County Children's Center. <v Jason>My dad after my mom bounced he bounced too. He said hey, you ain't only my kid, you her kid too. Why should I have to take care of you and she don't? He ?inaudible? <v John Rosati>He was here for a long string of very serious violent crimes I and not in the Rochester area, but they involved drug selling and buying assaults. <v Jason>I started robbing people because I needed to survive. <v John Rosati>Jason hurt people. He stole. Bought, sold drugs.
<v Jason>Couple people they might have gotten cuts on their face from getting hit, but I never used no weapons, nothing like that. We don't go out to rob for fun, and when you do it, you think in your mind somebody's going to get hurt or you're going to go to jail. But that ain't that ain't important to you. What's important is that you've got food to eat. You take whoever you've got to take care of to get the food. It's all about survival. <v Interviewer>How old were you when you started doing that stuff? <v Jason>15. <v John Rosati>He's an intelligent kid, he's smart, he can learn. <v Jason>Once you get the money from other people, things get hot, police start looking for somebody that's out there, right? So you take the money, you get from the above the robberies put it towards drugs, you buy drugs, you buy one hundred dollars worth of drugs, you can make two, three hundred dollars off that. So that's quick money. You go to fill out an application. You tell them you got a high school diploma or a college diploma. They're going to look with look at you with respect. If you're going to say I'm a high school dropout, can I have a job? They don't look at your life.
<v John Rosati>We think they have choices, you know, but like Jason told you, I had to feed, I had to feed my life, my family. Why are you saying we have a choice, get a job? And Jason would say, who the hell is going to hire me? You know, I'm a Black kid. I don't have an education. When kids are on the street and it becomes a matter of survival, you're going to do what you've learned. You're going to do what your parents have told you to do. And then sometimes it's the pimp and sometimes your parent is is the is a drug dealer and sometimes your parent is is another friend who doesn't know anything more than you know. So that's where you learn. <v Jason>On the counseling for probation, they make us go see a counselor. I don't agree with all the counseling stuff. <v Interviewer>Why not? <v Jason>The one experience that they have with counseling were the dude, the counselor had friends with the FBI and they found my mothe address where she lived there and all that. We wrote a letter and a letter came back. Return to sender. I guess it was rejected. That crushed my heart. I finally knew that my mother was still alive and well somewhere out there living. Then the letter came back, rejected like she ain't want me. She's seen the name and oh, nah, take this back. I don't want him. That's like being rejected all over again. Everybody in here got wise words. All you gotta do is take the wise words and use them for the right thing. I used to sit back in the lounge and the words that they used to tell me when I was down, I just run them back and forth to my mind.
<v John Rosati>But now I begin to have a vision and I begin to think about his future. Good to think about the fact he was going to be doing some time in jail years. But he didn't see that necessarily as something that was going to be totally negative. <v Interviewer>When you get out and you go back home what are you going to do? <v Jason>I'm going to get a job and try to take care of my grandmother. <v Interviewer>And your brother, who do you think is going to happen to him? <v Jason>I don't know rigth about now he he on the edge. Trying to talk him through it to trying to get him to where I'm at. Since I've been here, I sing, I sing different ways, I learn to use my mind out there. I was using my fists. Since I've been here, I learned to use my mind. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>How's it feel to you? <v Jason>if you think about this, one of the greatest feelings in the world, knowing that you actually got knowledge?
<v Dr. Michael Lynch>Imagine what it would be like growing up as a five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 year old kid who is daily concerned about, you know, his personal safety daily, concerned about the welfare and safety of his loved ones, daily concerned about the dangers in his or her environment. That's different. It's just different than what most of us have had to deal with. <v Student 17>He have gangs like just a group of people hang around together and they'll back each other up when they're when a fight starts. All their friends have come out of the come out of the paint. And they just they're all of a sudden there and they'll just start helping them. <v Student 18>One of my friends, she likes to start trouble with a lot of people, but she'll do it because people look at it. And then if she if she say something back to her, like, oh you're gonna let her say that to you? Let her say that to you? They let other people look for force into saying other stuff to the other person so they can get into a fight. <v Student 19>They think it makes them cool, that they're, you know, that they're bullies and they can just fight with anybody. And it's a big show in the hall and stuff everybody's watching and they think everybody's looking up to them because they can beat up a little sixth grader.
<v Student 20>If someone looks at me the wrong way, then of course, I'm confront them about it would be like, you know, why are you looking at me like that? You have a problem with me or what? I'm not going to hit them. But unless you reach that point with, you know, whatever, they're talking junk on my face, but I will confront them and be like, OK, why did you brush up against me like that? <v Dr. Michael Lynch>The kids are just being instructed that to survive, to not get pushed around. And not get you know, overlooked. You fight back, you be tough. And that's the way you handle yourself. You don't turn the other cheek. You don't avoid the problem. Don't try to work out the problem. You fight back. <v Interviewer>And is it more dangerous to fight now than it was then? Why? <v Student 3>Nowadays, people carry knives, guns, razors, box cutters is not worth it. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>They're not learning social skills and how to get along and how to settle arguments, how to handle their own temper. It just raises more concern about how we're going to how we're going to manage society.
<v Dr. Michael Lynch>Kids realize, you know, this no longer are the only threat that they have to encounter. So if somebody is going to bring in a knife, I'm going to bring in a box cutter. If I could bring a box cutter, I'm going to bring a gun. <v Student 21>A gun, a gun. You don't have to get too close to a person. You won't have to get hurt yourself. You can just hurt that person. They they can die and you have to deal with them anymore. <v Michelle>I mean, if I'm going to go punch somebody in the face, I mean, I'm going to have damage to my knuckles as well as that person's face. Well, maybe I don't want to do that. So I'll just get my compass for math class and poke their eye out. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>You know, that's a very premeditated kind of, uh, non heat of the moment. Rational planned approach. Self-reliance becomes. What happens to fill in the void? But also self-reliance in a positive way, is what you want to see happen as kids go through these years and become adults. Um, arguably, self-reliance is a very positive thing. When it's not foisted upon them by a lack of alternatives.
<v Student 23>How has fear of violence made you change your daily routine? <v Student 24>Sometimes I have to change my friends. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>I think it does take a lot of strength and a lot of support for kids to arrange their own, their own social situation, once again. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>This is one place where nonwhites were about five times more apt to do this than whites. The difference between two percent and 10 percent. <v Student 3>The group that I hang with, the other group, like we didn't like each other and it was a big fight and people were arguing and I stopped hanging with them because. They were getting too rowdy. <v Dr. Michael Lynch>I will have kids talk to me about literally running from one class to the school to avoid getting into fights because of just so much danger going around them. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>We ask kids about how often, if at all, they brought weapons to school, anything from a screwdriver to a gun that could be used as a weapon. Most of the weapons being brought to school are ostensibly being brought there for defensive reasons because it made me feel safer just to have it.
<v Michelle>I brought Mace to school because the girl had threatened to beat me up. I was ready to use it, I had it in my hand, like after school, I was like on my keychain with pepper spray and I had it in my hand. And you had to pull out my pocket. Nothing. Whenever I saw this particular girl, I was ready. <v Michelle's Mom>I know that she was feeling very threatened and I don't know if she used it. I mean, I never heard that she did. She did tell us that she brought it to school. <v Michelle>I mean, I had many threats made to me over totally stupid issues, clothes, hair, boyfriends. The way you talked. <v Michelle's Mom>She called me about incidents where her hair had been pulled and she had been shoved into a locker and she had been tripped in the hallway and had been threatened. Don't sit with me. Don't sit at this lunch table with us. <v Michelle>I think they felt that I was making a bigger issue out of something that was small. But to me it really wasn't small because the message I was getting was that you don't care about the way I'm feeling.
<v Michelle's Mom>I know that she was resorting to the verbal outbursts and maybe even some of the physical confrontations, the shoving back and forth. And I know at times to you, she did not feel supported at home. Even though we would talk with her, we would try to look at alternatives to a situation. And I would get we would get what was somewhat typically. But you just don't understand. <v Michelle>It's a big deal. You know, if you're really if you're sitting in class and you can't concentrate because you've got somebody screaming that they're going to kill you in the hall. <v Michelle's Mom>The way that Michelle resolved it was in her and her reasoning. Things are not getting better at the current school. And she opted to go to a different high school. <v Michelle>I mean, it still happens, you know, not as frequently as this girl decides she didn't like my clothes and she threatened to beat me up. So I spit in her face, got mad. And then, like her other friend says, oh, you're going to get it now. And then I spit on her, too. And so then we just went out to the principal's office and I was just like, look, you know, I talk to you about this. You didn't do anything about it.
<v Michelle's Mom>Not that these people, the administrators didn't try the situation would be resolved for that day or that week or that class period only. And then it would start up again. <v Michelle>After I spit on the girl like her and her friends, like they pulled up in a van. One of them had a chain, one of them had a tirejack. And one of them had a crowbar. And they're just like, oh, come on, you're going to get it now. And the security was right there. They just like stepped up and they're just like, look get away. And I think they got arrested for menacing. I felt that was my responsibility to end it. I don't like the school system because they don't do anything to alleviate these problems. I had to do something myself, and I shouldn't have to do that myself. <v Michelle's Mom>It's been a long time since I've been inside of a high school. And so she's right. I can't be there and I can't live those experiences. We can give her advice and suggestions on how to deal with it. But, you know, it's ultimately up to her how she deals with it.
<v Michelle>They're not going to get the best of me. No way I'm going to end it right here. And if the school doesn't want to do it, I'm going to do it. I don't care if I get suspended. I don't care. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>I mean, these kids are looking out for themselves with respect to things like avoiding places where they don't feel safe, avoiding people they don't feel safe with. Very few of them have changed their route to school, but that might just be that they don't really have a lot of choice there. But quite a few of them have avoided going out alone at night. These are kids with common sense. <v Student 25>Where do you feel safest? <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>This is a please check only one, and you've got two thirds your kids or 68 percent who say they feel safest at home, and you say, well, that's really reassuring, but you need to flip that statistic on its head and say 68 percent feel safest at home. That tells you that. Thirty two percent or one third of the kids we talk to don't feel safest at home. <v Interviewer 2>So what makes kids feel safe?
<v Dr. Michael Lynch>Parents, parents make kids feel safe. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>Children really need to know that there's a place where they are protected and where there's control of stimulation and where they feel safe. I think it's very important they're going to find it somewhere. If they don't find it in their home, they're going to find it with their friends. <v Student 10>And there's a group of guys just hanging out like where I forget what they were learning. I think my brothers in blue or something, and they were just he's just walking down the street, just being himself and everything. And all of a sudden he hears a rock was by his head and then followed by a couple more. And he just takes off running. And the guys are like laughing and everything. And it's just like they do that just to get enjoyment, to terrorize people more. <v Dr. Joe Accongio>And when we first did the ride arounds there, a lot of prostitutes and drug dealers that would hang out at Lyle and Saratoga and our little ones would just walk right between them, it's scary as hell. As soon as the busses depart our parking lot by administrators and I hop into my car or another car and we drive around the major streets in the area, we go down Dewey or Saratoga or whatever street we know that the kids are walking. And what we simply do is just ride by and wave to them, beep the horn and teach them a little bit. What is this street? What's the name of the street?
<v Student 26>Saratoga Avenue! <v Dr. Joe Accongio>You're not supposed to be on Saratoga, right, where we just talk about? <v Student 26>Not going to Saratoga? <v Dr. Joe Accongio>Right. Where you live? <v Student 26>I live right up there. <v Dr. Joe Accongio>You've begun. They always feel as though someone's watching them so that they're safe from whoever may be on the street wanting to take advantage of them. We had a kid two or three weeks ago was walking down Sherman Street, which this is was all the way down the other end of the street. And just as he was getting the little three big guys were in the alley there and they grabbed him and they smacked him around and then stole his sneakers. The babies, they don't they don't wanna hear me say that. But they're babies. They're just growing. They're just feeling what it's like to become a young adult. They're just feeling what it's like to make a decision for themselves. And they don't want to be hurt. When they smile at you, they're accepting you and then you have a chance of working with them. They've got one little hook into someone that they care about and who they know cares about them. And they may think one more time before they act in a violent way.
<v Dr. Michael Lynch>I certainly know of many individuals, individual families, where the parents haven't protected their children and those children certainly are suffering the consequences of that. You know, if parents do not come to my aid or parents do not keep me safe, then. You know who will and actually, if you take the survey, the kid, the highest percentage of kids who did not feel safe at home were the youngest kids, the seventh graders. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>I'm sure safest feels all consists of all those things. It's a physical safety. It's an emotional safety. It's a protected it's a sense of being protected physically, mentally and emotionally probably. <v Student 27>I know a lot of my friends have horrible family problems, and I think that's really where it starts. Is your family. <v Student 28>You're not born with volume. You're born into violence. And like you said, if you're born not born with a family who's prejudiced, who's racist, who's for the fighting, then you're going to become that person. <v Student 29>This whole thing is generated back to the parents. And I think the parents need to realize what their children are doing and teach them when they first grew up right from wrong.
<v Student 30>I've seen adults in my home. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Fifty one percent have seen insulting and screaming. OK, then none of these things. Then a lesser number, twenty one percent, they've seen the adults throw things at each other, 18 percent of the adults get drunk, 14 percent have seen the adults push and push and hit each other, and six percent of the adults do drugs. <v Alia Henton>Well, we know that children learn by example. So what they see is what they're going to do in most cases. And I think that it goes beyond the parents. It goes to the TV and goes to siblings and goes to the neighborhoods. But most definitely kids are going to react in the way that they've been brought up to react. And if they see their parents doing something, they want to do it too. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>The extent to which kids swear, to which they're, uh, feel they can do this to adults and to their teachers and to the parents is is a low level violence. And I think other children experience it as violence. I think it makes them anxious, makes them pull back.
<v John Rosati>You would be surprised. At what kids here, you know, sometimes they go back in with their kids in detention and I'll say things and I feel like I'm talking to the wall. And two days later. This kid will repeat word for word, everything I told them, and I think he's not even listening to me. Kids, listen, they're like tape recorders. <v Student 29>Somebody hit me, but I hit them back, ?inaudible? You want me to beat the other person. I ain't going to let someone hit me without getting mine in. <v Student 31>Parents are a backbone. And, you know, the way they bring you up is what you become. And if they're not there, then you have to fend for yourself. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>I think everybody's facing more complex problems. I don't think parents I think parents want to be good parents. And they got into this. Maybe they didn't know how long and hard it was going to be, but parents want to be good parents.
<v John Rosati>We've got to give to the kids two things. One is roots and the other is wings. That's what they need. They need to know you're there for them, you're going to provide the nurturing, the roots. But then you got to go. <v Student 32>The adult in my life who listens to me and most cares about me is. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>They had to pick the most, cares about me and listens to me, mother came through loud and clear at sixty five percent. Father at twenty three percent. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>Children still do look to their parents, but I think parents are busier and more distracted. And more concerned, I think parents are well-meaning. <v Student 33>Your mother needs to give you guidelines, if you can do, to help you on yourself, because when you get grow, you know, you have to rely on yourself. <v Student 34>I live in a single parent situation and it's hard for my mom because there's four kids in our house. It's hard for my mom to be with all of us at the same time. And she works real hard. She does a great job, but it's so hard for. And so it's like one child in that situation who doesn't have a parent who works as hard as my mom would be more apt to look for some other alternative.
<v Moises>I live in a single parent home with my mom because my mom, my my dad died because of violence and she works and stuff. But there comes a time when she sets time off to, like, talk to me and my sister. <v Enid>He was basically beat down. And to the point and to the extent that he had internal hemorrhaging in his and he wasn't operable. I was 11 at the time and it was very hard for me to accept this. And it's made an impact because I want to do better and I want to better myself, not only for me, but and for my mom, but also for my dad. <v Moises>I think that for me it was like I was too young to know what happened over the years. It was real hard for me because I don't have that father figure. <v Enid>Affected me a lot because it hurts when I see my brother not having that father figure there and I know that he lacks it and needs it.
<v Moises>Sometimes I like it, but sometimes I don't, because I thank God that I have my family real close to me and I have cousins and uncles that that they're like they're kind of like my father figure that I have them to talk to and stuff. <v Enid>She's just given us our love given her support, she's given us support, she's worked hard to give us everything that we want and everything that we need. Sometimes we struggle financially, but God always helps us out. <v Moises>Some ways she's a father in some ways she's a mother. But for me, it's like she's both. Because sometimes when I need somebody, when I need my mother, she's my mother. Sometimes I need my father. She's my father also. <v Enid>She's always taught me to work hard and she disciplines us as needed. Being in the church has helped me out a lot. The church is like my family, I've grown up in there.
<v Moises>A lot of things that they've taught me in church have really been valuable to me. I think that my mom have taught me because for me, if I didn't have that, I think I would I would have done a lot of stupid things that right now I would have regretted that. I think that my future is really bright because I have God that he's my father and he strengthens me and you could do anything through him. <v Enid>I know sometimes it's hard because my mom being a single parent, but she's always taught us to struggle and we'll get our reward in the end. <v Interviewer>What do you wish for? <v Jason>I just wish I had a mother, a mother that was there for me when I was in need. <v Alia Henton>There are some parents that are dealing with a lot of their own issues, whether it's just working every day or whether it's something deeper in terms of drug or alcohol problem. Kids have learned that for some reason or the other, they have only themselves to depend on. And so they take the attitude that because I have to make the choices, I know how to make the choices when we know that that's not necessarily true.
<v Student 35>If you don't have that, which is something that your parents have to teach you, then you're not going to have for the rest of your life and you're going to pass it on. <v Student 36>And it's not just people in the city or with, you know, like single parent. It's like in the suburbs. Sometimes people you would think that they're the happiest family, but they they ignore their kid. <v Student 37>I think there's a lot of frustration between parents and their kids because, I mean, they do never get to see each other. And I think when they do get to see each other, it's it's not much time at all. So and I think a lot of the violence is as a result from that frustration. <v Student 38>You do start to build up so much that you want to get rid of. And if you can't tell your family or anything and you don't have anybody else to tell, you, just resort to violence as your alternative. <v Student 39>Do adults in your home say there are things you can't watch or listen to because they're too violent? <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Seventy two percent said no. If you're looking for structure and guidelines and stuff, this is one area in which they're not two thirds of these these kids are not getting that kind of structure and guideline. Now, it could be that those same kids, if they were offered that structure and guideline, would say, out of my life, I can say I'm old enough to decide exactly what to read and listen to. And what would you know about it anyway?
<v Dr. Stuart Loeb>A lot of families will say when I talk to them or say, well, I never knew I could turn off the television. I thought that was, you know, that was a child's right. Can I really go and unplug the computer? Oftentimes they'll say, well, I'll just get hit or the child will just swear at me or throw something or break something. But a lot of times parents just say, oh, never even thought of it. I never even thought to that that that the stimulation in the home is really my responsibility and I can I can manage it. <v Dr. Joe Accongio>In the past, the families really kept the kids at home more were more aware of where the kids were at all times, gave limitations to the kids. And so they weren't really put out into a situation where they could get in trouble, where someone would have to come to their defense. In this case, when you read some of these statistics about kids being out on the street up to three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning, that's unheard of. And that's unconscionable to have a youngster, let's say, a middle school age kid between seven and 15 out on the street available for violence to take place and crimes that happened to that kid.
<v Interviewer>How do they get out there? <v Dr. Joe Accongio>Well, I would say in some cases the kids are pretty clever and can sneak out because something's out there that is attracting them. But on the other hand, the kids may have also learned that there isn't a whole lot of attention given to where they are in some cases. And so, again, the parents may be abrogating their responsibilities to know where their youngsters are at all times if they allow it to happen even once. I think you failed as a parent. <v Student 36>A lot of my friends, parents don't even care where they are, you know, and I sometimes I tell my parents, you know, and I get mad at them for, you know, because I wanted to go in the car with this guy, but they didn't know him that well and they said no. But, you know, I think about this just because they care about me. <v Student 34>The parents are more like irresponsible parents that don't really care about their kids. They weren't ready to have a child when the child was born. And so they ignore their child. And then the child turns to other places like television and the media for like guidance. <v Student 40>They parents just don't care. So I guess they think their parents don't care. They might not care if they start out trouble other people.
<v Student 41>I had like a message to some parents who, like, find their kids irritating when they come to them. If they find them irritating, it's their fault. They should have been ready for the responsibility. <v John Rosati>If people aren't going to have children, they need to understand that it's good, it's going to be that kind of way. And it's going to be a tremendous responsibility. It's going to be costly not only in terms of dollars and cents, but in terms of your time. <v Kristal Lowry>Some people say that their mother is their best friend. But I can't say to my mother, my best friend, because I tell my other people more stuff than I tell my mother because I'm not I don't feel comfortable telling my mother everything because we don't sit down and talk like mother and daughter should. <v Student 29>Like my parents, they always busy, always going to work. Sometimes they just need to sit down with you and talk to you. <v Student 42>You come from your parents. They're supposed to bring you up in a way where you should know right and wrong you shouldn't have to deal with, oh, do I fight or do I punch? <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>I think parenting is more difficult. We've talked about this before. Parenting is more difficult now than it was. We see families distracted, floundering, uh, as far as how to put their time and resources, how to care for themselves and their their job.
<v John Rosati>Your time is never your own. Uh, there's there's always something going on and you're so busy and you come home from work and you're stressed out and your son or your daughter comes home and says mom or dad. I got this problem. Can you help me with the math? And you're totally exhausted. <v Student 43>When you get into trouble, what happens to you at? <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>We gave them a whole bunch of choices, and was this a check all that apply type of question to I think it was. Thirty two percent, nearly a third, OK, say nothing much happens. And then five percent say I'm hit or physically punished. To my mind, the last two responses are both scary, but thirty two percent the nothing much happens is five hundred fifty six kids. Now, to my mind, that's the other half of abuse, it's the neglect half of abuse. That these kids told us is just as potentially damaging, it's the neglect side of things. OK, it's the side that says there's a void here. That's why I rely on myself. Because the adults in those instances didn't step up and take charge and fix the problem.
<v Student 3>It's just discipline. If you put fear into your children's hearts and they'll know not to do certain things and that if they do them, then they'll get in trouble for it. So they're not going to do it. <v Student 44>So I think it would help a lot of people if they knew that their parents were there. If their parents provide discipline and structure, it might make a lot of people not turn to violence, because if if your parents discipline you and they teach you right from wrong, then you'll know you'll know how to apply the things you learn at home to different situations that you find in life. <v Student 45>I think has to do a lot with self motivation yourself, wanting to be a good person, you know, do the right things, get a good job, you make a good living. But I think self motivation is the key. <v Student 46>I would definitely teach my children wrong from right in that there are consequences to their actions. Whether or not they see them, something could happen. I mean, definitely make sure my kids know wrong from right and exactly make sure they understand because people tend to underestimate children. We understand more than they think we do.
<v Student 12>Like, don't ignore us. Just listen to us take into consideration what we're trying to get across to you, because a lot of times we try to talk to you and they won't listen because they've got too much stuff to do. <v Alia Henton>We need to continue reinforcing those morals and values. I don't think that is just up to the parents to say here in our home, these are the morals and values and then we don't expect them at school or we don't expect them at work or community centers or where we might be. <v Dr. Michael Lynch>We talk about strategies and you talk to your teacher. You could talk to an adult. You have to talk to the principal. Yeah, but he won't do anything. <v Interviewer>How many think or know that there are drugs in their school? You know there are drugs. You see you see people using them in school? <v Student 17>Every kid here knows there's drugs in school. There's something wrong with that. And like I went to my principal saying this kid's doing drugs, he didn't do a thing about it. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>When you ask for a show of hands who thinks there's drugs in their school and every hand goes up. It's one of the reasons that school went so low as the place you feel safest.
<v Herb Swingle>Things that are going on in high schools without, you know, like with unions and no contracts and budget votes. A lot of teachers are saying, what what's what's it worth? Why should I get involved? Why should I stop a fight? I'm going to I might get hit or the kid will only get three to five days suspension or I have to go through the rigamarole and testify. And the kid a lot of times, you know, it's he said she said in somewhere the truth is in the middle. So people don't want to get involved in encounters. <v Student 15>The teachers have been forced to be become parents and counselors and priests and friends and everything I think is too much of a burden. Their job is to be a teacher and. I just think it goes back to the parents again. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>I've never met a teacher who wasn't very glad to hear from a parent that a parent wanted to meet or wanted to come in and figure out a way to get this child working, get this child doing the school work and parents can do it. I think that team of of parents and teachers is is is right at the core of of of what what we need to provide for kids is that that team that we're working together and we're going to make sure you succeed.
<v Student 47>Success is due to. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Hard work was ninety three percent, followed by education at seventy seven percent, followed by intelligence or talent at fifty six percent followed by parents who care at forty two percent. Followed by luck at 10 percent and a family with money at seven percent and race at only two percent. I like these findings, I find these findings very encouraging. <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>And we can be pleased about that because that's something that we want kids to feel. We don't want them to feel that getting, you know, getting a bigger weapon will will help them find success. We want them to think that hard work and education, while parents don't they don't need to say that they that they get their support from their parents. They just need to get it from them. <v Unidentified mom>Because I do believe my children are going to be successful. I think they're successful now. I think they're going to be more successful in the future.
<v Unidentified kid>I'm happy with myself when I'm trying my best to make the people around me have a look themselves in their lives. I feel like, you know, saying that's success for real. From what I understand. <v Unidentified mom>We call them the flashlight days, because we were having a terrible time not long after the divorce, financially, we had a really tough time. And I think the good thing that came out of that is that as a family, the three boys and myself, we really bonded as a team. <v Unidentified kid 2>I think mom, you know, really did a good job, you know, as for trying to make sure that we're happy, you know what I mean? And doing the things that we did. Because at one point, you know, we're having flashlights, you know, where, you know, the electricity and gas was cut off because we had to choose, you know, what notes to pay. <v Unidentified mom>I was scared a lot for a long time because, you know, you hear all these stories, you don't know what's going to happen. I had two jobs at one time, long hours. <v Unidentified kid 2>Remember when she used to make those cinnamon muffins and everything, you know, and she may come out like 12 o'clock at night, you know what I mean? And I mean, when she would leave in the morning, she would write a note saying, you know, these are for the house, you know? And I mean, it really, really wasn't all about, you know, money and things like that. It was really more about what she did and how she did it.
<v Unidentified kid>I never really felt like Mom was there, like I intellectually understood that she wasn't there. You know I couldn't see here when I never really felt like, you know, like Mom abandoned us totally. <v Unidentified mom>Yeah. I was tough with my kids, not in an abusive way, but there was lots of structure and the and I think that has a lot to do with it because my children know really clearly what's right and what's wrong. And the same message is delivered all the time. And I think that that's what family brings. <v Unidentified kid 2>We really, really wanted to we could be like, you know, really bad to think with, you know what I mean? And I mean, I'm glad that she really put down her foot, you know, so early in our age. <v Unidentified mom>All I can say is I delivered the message and it's stuck, I don't know. It's not like I had some grand plan except to try to do what my parents did for me. And I don't know, one of the things I told the kids over and over again is that Allah, God gave you a gift, find it and not only be happy, but you will be successful.
<v John Rosati>People say, well, I know kids from great families that have committed crimes. And that's true. But I won't we I've always believed that if you can give a kid a solid family background. Reasonable rules, discipline, nurturing, love, all the things we talked about. That his chances for success are going to be much greater. Then if any one of those things were absent. <v Student 42>Sometimes parents aren't all that they're cracked up to be, you know, when you're little. Oh, my mother, she's so nurturing my father, you know, daddy's little girl, this and that. But then when you get older and it's like parents don't want to deal with this, you know, you're in high school. They don't want to deal with that. And so you get parents that don't care anymore. And then that's where things start to fall apart. <v Student 48>It's all about individual. As you know, we can only depend on the authorities so much until, you know, you have to look at yourself and, you know, ask yourself, what am I doing with my life? <v Dr. Joe Accongio>I think there's something that has gone wrong in our leadership as adults and that the kids are really just like in anything else they're saying, look at us, look what's happened to us. We need help. And boy, get to the point that it's almost beyond our ability to resolve with this kind of violence if we don't stop it. Now, I don't know what the hope is for the kids in the future.
<v Student 49>What are some solutions? <v Dr. Stuart Loeb>Rules are very important, and this is something that I think parents can really help with. <v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>Harsher penalties for kids over 13 was the number one response with seventy seven percent saying they think it would be very or somewhat effective, followed by more and better counseling programs for families, followed by harsher penalties for kids below age 13. So they're looking for penalties and guidance. <v Dr. Michael Lynch>Whether it's metal detectors or peer mediation programs or they're not me, not now campaign. Most of those things, approximately half the kids said that they were somewhat effective, meaning almost half the kids, that they weren't effective, and they can understand where the kids are coming from because. You know, all those programs are in place right now. But the problem is kids are facing a greater now than they ever were before.
<v Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible>And though they're willing to say that the reason the kids get into trouble is very often the parents' fault, they're not willing to punish the parents because we offer that as another alternative. And that was penalties and punishment of parents of of kids who commit crimes. And that only 30 percent said would be, you know, very or somewhat effective. So, yeah, maybe it's the parents fault, they say that the kids are getting into trouble or that they don't have the values they need and therefore get into trouble. But don't punish the parents. <v Student 50>They need to start taking some responsibility. We are what they have made us. And, you know, they can't just say, you know, the kids, they're the problem. We don't care. They made us what we are. <v Student 51>Focus on the positive things that children do don't focus. I mean, do focus on the negative things, but also tell them, you know, great job. You know, you got an A on your paper. I really care what you did. <v Student 17>And some people are saying, why don't you punish the parent is their fault. They're supposed to bring them up. But we finally found a parent. Notice they're not doing the right thing and teach the parent. Don't punish them because punishment is what causes violence in the first place. Don't punish them. Teach them the right way. Y.
<v Student 12>Ou know, just like tune in a little bit more. And that might, you know, or the could they could have classes where, like parents could come in and ask, well, what do you want? You know, what do you need? Because there are a lot of kids out there who need stuff and have feelings about something. And parents or teachers don't really know that because they don't really want to listen. <v Student 52>I think parents I think it's like the parents who really need to get involved and they need to talk to their kids a lot more about everything, about what goes on in school and understand what's going on in their lives and like talk to them about what they see on TV and let them know, like what they get their opinions on it and talk them about it and get involved. <v Herb Swingle>If we can do what we have to do in school, maybe that'll carry over in the home and in the community because it's not just a school problem. It's not just a home problem. It's not just a community problem. It's an entire picture. <v Student 53>I think we should more look into making better people and better parents and better kids rather than better laws. <v Student 34>The whole world is changing so rapidly. I think that kids need something constant that they can rely on. But it's and it's hard to find.
<v Herb Swingle>If we can teach that or at least put that out to kids. And if kids can get coping skills, if kids can see the other side of the problem, then maybe we've done our job a little bit better. <v Dr. Michael Lynch>And I think that's the first step, is to talk about this and get together and try to figure out how to how to help the kids because the kids are going to grow up no matter what we do. <v Narrator>You have just heard our children speak out about how violence affects their lives. Now it's time for adults and the community to respond. Next Saturday night at eight o'clock, WXXI Television and AM1370, the Democrat and Chronicle and Times Union and News Source 13WOKR will hold an on air community workshop on youth violence here at WXXI. Community leaders, educators, parents and teenagers will form work groups to come up with possible solutions for violence among our children. The work groups will cover topics such as what more we can do to support our families. What role should law enforcement play and how to keep weapons out of schools and away from teens that make us safe. Teens Talk About Violence A Community Violence workshop on WXXI TV next Saturday night at 8:00.
Make Us Safe: Teens Talk about Violence
Producing Organization
WOKR-TV (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
WXXI (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
WXXI Public Broadcasting (Rochester, New York)
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"'Make Us Safe' is an ambitious and unique effort, spearheaded by WXXI Public Broadcasting, to engage the community and respond to the growing problem of [teenage] violence in the Rochester area. "WXXI and its partners, the Gannett Rochester newspapers and WOKR-TV13(ABC) sponsored a poll of 1771 local school students. WXXI Television illustrated the results of the poll, and the community's reaction to it, with the enclosed 60-minute documentary program. WXXI AM Radio featured two weeks of poll and documentary participants on its daily news programs and talk shows. To support WXXI's efforts, the newspapers ran daily stories, mirroring the documentary. [WOKR-TV13] ran two weeks worth of series' segments. The project, which culminated on the anniversary of the murder of a 13 year old girl, was ubiquitous. With a respected public television station, a dominant network affiliate and the daily newspapers running stories about teen violence, it was impossible to ignore. A World Wide Web site set up by WXXI and the newspapers featured poll questions and results and received more than three thousand hits. The enclosed 'WXXI Community Workshop,' broadcast one week after the documentary, received enthusiastic support from local community leaders, educators, parents and teachers who participated. The project continues to have impact, both in the form of follow up on up stories in both television stations, and because 'Make Us Safe' is being put to use in the educational components of both WXXI and the newspapers. Enclosed in the support materials, is a copy of 'Newspapers in Education,' which sent Make Us Safe into thousands of homes and classrooms. "'Make Us Safe' was a phenomenal and successful effort by several relatively small staffs. The partners, especially the broadcast partners looked beyond competition toward community, and sought for solutions through journalism. As we continue 'Make Us Safe' into 1997, we feel it is a project deserving consideration by the honorable committee which judges the Peabody Awards."--1996 Peabody Awards entry form. "In the spring of 1996 with a grant from the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, WXXI TV and AM 1370, the Democrat and Chronicle and Times Union and News Source 13 WOKR contracted the Rochester Research Group to conduct a survey of 1,771 7th through 12th grade students throughout Monroe County. We asked about their attitudes on violence and how violence affects their lives. In June, we brought 60 of these youngsters together in a youth summit to give voice to the survey data. The following documentary is based on what our children had to say in the survey and the youth summit."--soundtrack. Reporters talk with students and officials about the problems of teen violence. Includes comments from unidentified students and interviews with Dr. Stuart Loeb, Jocelyn Goldberg Schaible, Aledia Givens, Dr. Joe Accongio, Alia Henton, Dr. Michael Lynch, John Rosati, and Herb Swingle.
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Producing Organization: WOKR-TV (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: WXXI (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Format: Betacam: SP
WXXI Public Broadcasting (WXXI-TV)
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Chicago: “Make Us Safe: Teens Talk about Violence,” 1996-09, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Make Us Safe: Teens Talk about Violence.” 1996-09. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Make Us Safe: Teens Talk about Violence. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from