Giving Teens a Voice

San Ramon Valley Ses #1

Table of Contents

Student Comments
Summary of Feedback
        1. intolerance
        2. hatred
        3. image/wanting to look or seem tough
        4. bad influence
        5. drugs/alcohol
        6. prejudice
        7. building up emotions and not know how to let go of them
        8. being close minded
        9. not accepting others who are different


San Ramon Teen Think Tanks
Topic: Youth Safety and Teen Related Violence

Saturday, October 30, 1999
Session 1: 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon
Session 2: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Charlotte Wood Middle School Library
600 El Capitan, Danville, California


Student Comments

  • I had a lot of fun here and was truly grateful for actually having a voice in my beliefs.
  • Excellent - Yes!
  • Very cool. We will succeed in making this a better valley.
  • Well thought-out program. The anonymous opinions were creative, although we somewhat lost seriousness and focus.
  • Good - I would do it again. I think that it should be longer. You should do this about 3 times a year.
  • I really enjoyed this.
  • I'd do it again. Good!
  • The #1 thing that could of happened to take the very first step. Thank you. More time!
  • Great experience! Would love to be more involved!
  • This activity was definitely worthwhile... I'd like to do more with this.
  • This was cool. It was good to get these ideas out. But the next step is to implement them.
  • This was pretty cool. You guys need to do this again. Believe me I will be back.
  • I believe this day was very useful as long as the comments are taken to heart. I believe you might need even a more diverse group.
  • Good over all idea, but needs to be made to apply to the specific community better.
  • Very helpful. I would love to do it again. Please contact me again!
  • I liked this. I thought it was fun. And I wish that there were more of these. There could have been more time spent.
  • It was fun and I would definitely recommend this to my friends.
  • Yes, very valuable experience! A little slow at times, but other than that, it was great! You need to get more kids in here to do this!
  • I think this was a great way for teens to get involved and I hope I can stay involved. I would also just like to say thank you for listening to my ideas.
  • I think today was very helpful and it helped today's youth express their views.
  • It was fun because it makes us feel that we had a voice. However, you should limit the time that we spend merging ideas - it took too long. This was worth my time because I've never felt that I had a real impact on our community. Being an impact on my environment was never really a big deal for me - I like it the way it is. But when I have an opportunity to have a voice, I take advantage of it.
  • I thought that the Teen Think Tank was enjoyable and interesting. I am glad I got to express my ideas, but I think that the process was a bit too long. The merging of ideas was too lengthy and boring. But I am glad I did it.
  • Yes, it was interesting. I enjoyed it and hope that all the ideas are taken into action.
  • I was surprised at the ability of this program to keep my interest. I didn't really love answering the questions. I liked the idea of us being heard and the business view. I liked using the computers and stuff. I think you guys should do this.
  • I really enjoyed this. I feel good knowing I was able to voice my opinion and what I think could improve teenage life. I have so much to say and ideas, and no where to place them, but today I got that chance. It feels good! Thank you.
  • I think this is a good thing. I hope many more are held.
  • I thought that this was a good experience. It was interesting to do. I liked giving feedback. Great job.

(table of contents)

Agenda - Session 1 (typical of Session 2)

Meeting Objective
The objective of the Teen Think Tank is to provide a forum for teens to anonymously identify, discuss, and rank teen issues; causes and solutions for youth violence; and recommend activities for a Valley Youth Council.

9:00 AM Opening Remarks - Introductions and Process Overview
9:10 AM Ice Breaker Exercise - A fun activity designed to introduce the participants to Electronic Meeting Systems (GroupSystems).
9:20 AM Prioritize Results of Ice Breaking Activity - Participants will continue becoming familiar with GroupSystems by going through an activity where they prioritize the items identified in the Ice Breaking Activity.
9:25 AM Discussion - Participants will discuss their use of GroupSystems.
9:30 AM Brainstorming Teen Issues - Participants will brainstorm current teen issues.  After generating an initial list of issues, they will narrow the list by merging similar issues.  Participants will then have the opportunity to review and comment on each of these issues.
10:00 AM Prioritize Teen Issues - Participants will prioritize the list of Teen Issues.
10:10 AM Break
10:20 AM Brainstorming the Causes of Youth Violence - Participants will brainstorm the cause of youth violence.  After generating an initial list of causes, they will narrow the list by merging similar issues.  Participants will then have the opportunity to review and comment on each of these causes.
10:50 AM Prioritize the Causes for Violence - Participants will prioritize the list of the Causes of Violence.
11:00 AM Select Top Causes of Violence in School - Participants will select the top issues to address.
11:05 AM Brainstorm Solutions for Violence - Participants will generate potential solutions to the top causes of Youth Violence
11:35 AM Brainstorm Issues for Valley Youth Council - Participants will brainstorm the question: "If I were a member of the Valley Youth Council . . . "  After generating an initial list of issues, they will narrow the list by merging similar ideas.  Participants will then review and prioritize these issues.
11:45 AM Participant Survey - Participants will complete a survey that will provide additional valuable insight into Teen Issues.
11:55 AM Wrap-up Discussion
12:05 PM  Adjourn Teen Think Tank

(table of contents)

Summary of Feedback

TEEN ISSUES - Teens were asked to brainstorm and prioritize the most important teen issues today. A total of 62 issues were identified. For the purpose of this report, the top 15 are presented here. The teens also made several comments regarding the various issues - these comments can be found in the raw data.

1) Academic pressure
2) Too much stress
3) Violence
4) High expectations
5) Family pressure
6) The "Danville bubble"
7) College pressure
8) Lack of acceptance to diversity
9) Relationships
10) Unable to realize there is more to life than just the 4 years in high school
11) Peer pressure
12) Drugs
13) Discrimination
14) Balance
15) Depression

CAUSES OF YOUTH VIOLENCE - Teens were asked to brainstorm and prioritize the leading causes of youth violence. A total of 84 different causes were identified. For the purpose of this report, the top 15 are presented here. The teens also made several comments regarding the various issues - these comments can be found in the raw data.

1) Intolerance
2) hatred
3) Image/wanting to look or seem tough
4) Bad Influences
5) Drugs/alcohol
6) Prejudice
7) Building up emotions and not knowing how to let go of them
8) Being closed-minded
9) Not accepting others who are different
10) Revenge
11) Ignorance
12) Releasing anger from pressure
13) Just being fed up with everything
14) Race
15) Poor parenting

(table of contents)

SOLUTIONS TO CAUSES OF YOUTH VIOLENCE - Teens were asked to brainstorm and answers to the following question; "Based on what we have seen are the causes of Youth Violence, what are your ideas for solutions to these causes?" Students brainstormed solutions for the top 10 causes. These ideas are provided here (To preserve the integrity of the comments, they are presented as raw data [unedited]):

1. intolerance

  • promote diversity
  • you have to bo open minded to evryone and to everything no matter what because we are all different and no one is exactly like another
  • differences need to be accepted
  • schools should promote a disussio day based on how we can as a group accept one another.
  • I believe that getting people to understand eachother and to stop intolerance is only possible by example. We have to lead by example and pray that others will follow.
  • People need to learn to like each other
  • People are unable to see others for what they are. Everyone is going to judge a book by it's cover, that is human nature. People must realize  that is image is tiny portion of a person. People do not accept what they do not understand.
  • In the classroom try to get foreign and outsider kids more involved with the class by making sure they participate.
  • people are so stuck on appearances, they don't like to look skin deep. If you're of another race, culture or religion they see you differently, just as a stereotype. They have to get to know people before they can pass judgement on them.
  • if you're different you're looked down upon. But individuality is one of the most important things teens need to learn. We need to encourage it more
  • enforce strict rules and policies against those who are intolerant to others and their views
  • link communication to brainstorm ideas and carry out joint events with all three high schools
  • mtv has been running programs where they talk to kids who have acted on their violence and then had to pay for it, they show how that person's life has changed and how they wish they hadn't done it, by running these programs they are helping to educate teens which is a very good start,especially since it is a program that many teens watch

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2. hatred

  • people decide to hate someone based on things that other people may have said, and they don't let their own experiences decide what to think about someone.
  • feeling anger/hatred
  • agression
  • provide conflict resolution programs
  • Hatred is everywhere....Maybe limit competition...?
  • like each other!
  • hated could be released in positive ways
  • I feel that hatred is something learned and then acted on.  It would be a good idea to start children at a young age, that there is no room or future for hate.
  • Their is only one way to deal with hatredyou have to be excepting it is not hard to except others just respect them and treat them the way you would want to be treated
  • get more school counselors so they can see more kids. I know that at my school it is impossible to get my counselors attention.
  • increase interaction between different groups of students

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3. image/wanting to look or seem tough

  • Reduce the image of masculinity or coolness based in protecting pride.... Maybe T.V and movies show too much Action MEN....and less conflicts being resolved by brains.
  • If we show acceptance to everyone, no one would feel like they needed to look or act tough. This is difficult because it can be solved by example as well.
  • Image is in my opinion an insecurity problem.  However, dealing with wanting to look a certain way is based on peer acceptance.  People should be proud of who they are.
  • I don't think that anyone really wants a negative image.
  • there are to many violent televison programs
  • You have to just be yourself and not try to be something you aren't.  I know as a teenager it is hard because we don't know  exzctly who we are, but we don't have to use violence to find out
  • All that is gained from fighting is fear  in others and a mean reputation, no one personally  respects you.
  • High schooll  is all about image, everyone jocks, cheerleaders the outcasts. If someone wishes to look tough it is only so they have something to identify with.
  • eliminate drugs off of high school campuses
  • teens are very protective of their image, teens will fight because someone looked at them for too long or because someone called them a name, it is very often a fight breaks out  because someone has been joking with  someone but that person is not aware of his or her humor, a reduction of  the level of masculinity could help reduce the number of fights in high school
  • everyone is just trying to reach the top, and many think that if they can have control over others by fighting them, then they will have that better image.  we need to emphasis the things inlie that really do matter, and things that will actually get you somewhere in the future

(table of contents)

4. bad influences

  • media, role models, and peers can all be bad influences and need to be addressed by someone in a leadership role.
  • influence is based only on that certain person.  We should promote their own infuence o the world, not someone else's.
  • monitor who you hang out with.  Try not to be around violent people
  • Try to make t.v revere intelligent and calm headed people rather than the hot headed and belligerent ones. On t.v the guy who gets the girls is always wreckless and fights a lot.
  • Media i think id the last to blame, I think the worst influence is poor parenting. After the Columbine issue, poeple were quick to blame the kids dressed in blac. the shooters were not influenced by media but their parents inablility to raise and care for them. People do not want to realize that they kids are just like those, they are all over the valley. Parents just do not want to take responsiblity fo their own flesh and blood..

(table of contents)

5. drugs/alcohol

  • drinking
  • alchohal
  • Drugs
  • drug pressure
  • all my guy friends fight when they get drunk
  • tempers fly if one pays but doesn't get his drugs/alcohol
  • focus on the negative effects of substane abuse in school on an everyday regular basis
  • fights at my school are mainly related to at party drinking
  • people fight over bad weed or too much cost
  • it should be more difficult for kids to get drugs and alcohol
  • Monitor teens!!!...Watch us!...I'm amazed at how much teachers miss....when things are so obvious.
  • making it harder to get alchohol will NOT solve fights and violence!!!!!!!!  FOR SURE
  • drinking allows many unfortunate things to happen.
  • police need to regulate parties and teens need to stand up and say that it is wrong and can lead to fights and drunk driving which both end up hurting or killing people.
  • ALCHOHOL may cause violence, but reaching out to the teens who are alchoholics is much more benefiicail then trying to do the impossible of monitoring the crazy lifestyle of teens
  • just try not to drink to much to where you get to the point you can't control what you do
  • put smoke detectors in school restrooms
  • Parents should be responsible for their teens, if their teens want to drink they are responsible for not letting their teen be belligerent.  If a teen becomes quarrelsome when drnking the parent should be aware and take control.  DON't ruin it for the social drinkers!!!!!!!
  • Smoke detectors won't work because you might get smoke from science classes
  • Drugs and alcohol are big amung teens and there really is no way to eliminate teens drinking or doing drugs.  Instead of telling people how horrible drugs are and everything they have to lose, people should be told what they have to gain by not getting involved in drugs and alcohol

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6. prejudice

  • lack of acceptance for difference
  • discrimination
  • lack of acceptance
  • religious difference
  • need to promote divsersity on campuses on a regular basis. Do interdistrict events and activites with all of the schools in the district
  • incorporate all races and ethnic groups in magazines and television and make them equal. Not the strange or funny character that they would usually portray. So don't use like a funny little Chinese guy that does karate because that is stereotypical.
  • brother
  • even the school focuses on the succesful kids...and gives them the most opportunities.  How could the Columbine faculty miss the kind of signs those kids were sending off. It's because there are so many students who go through their whole school career without being involved or accepted in ANYTHING.
  • brotherhood week
  • diversity and acceptance by peers would show that prejudice is dying.
  • schools need to promote diversity and difference all over the world.  People need to go out in public feeling good about themselves.
  • be excepting to others
  • it's not something that'll be solved easily

(table of contents)

7. building up emotions and not know how to let go of them

  • teach students stress management
  • escpecially  for guys since it seems okay for girls to cry but for the guys it's not not considered "cool"
  • teens, mainly guys, don't always feel like they can confide in adults. And they don't want to seem weak or have to listen to them. More peer one on one things would be better than having adults help teens. They need people their own age to talk to
  • there should be more things to do, if we had a community center or something like that that planned activities or had students plan activities then maybe we could get teens busy so that they can get out their energy with out hurting anyone.  also, they should have counselors so you could talk to someone about any problems you might be dealig with
  • relaxing activities could be practiced more
  • Reducing the stress level.  Making it easier to talk to couselors.
  • say "3-2-1, 1-2-3, what the heck is bothering me?"
  • we all need to learn how to deal with strss and it is not fighting
  • teens need a real person or councelor to go to regularly that is easily reachable, trustworthy, and an active listener so that they can vent more often and stop the build up of emotions.
  • students can reach a barrier, a point in time, when they can only take a certain amount of stress. at this point students will do anything to releave themselves of the tension that has built in their lives. find a way to releav

(table of contents)

8. being close minded

  • people just stick w/ the views that they grew up w/, that's why racism has lasted so long... even after all this time someone's got to get them to accept new ideas, be open minded.
  • promote diversity on a regular basis
  • be open to everything
  • teach kids about other races like they are eual and belong.
  • parents need to promote diversity and explain to kids that being different is a part of life that does not mean someone is better or worse, only different.
  • we live in a society that is taught to judge.  If we were instead able to teach children that it is not our place to judge others, but to ACCEPT others and celebrate their differences and uniqueness, we would all get along much better.
  • Instead of focusing on the bad racist incidents...maybe we should focus on the majority of peaceful race relations.
  • acceptance is a key

(table of contents)

9. not accepting others who are different

  • not liking someone
  • People should be more accepting of others around them.  Just because someone is different doesn't mean that they should be looked down upon.  Everyone wants to be an individual, but some take it further than others.  It is necisary for people to learn from their differences, and be accepting of others.  It is possible for people to gain something from those who are different, look different have different ideas.  It is possible to expand yourself by accepting others
  • eliminate discrimnation in schools.
  • people may fight others who are different since it is an easy way of picking out someone out in the crowd to hurt, to make themselves feel more suprierior.
  • Trying to understand the differences....not just students....but faculty as well.  I think the outcast kids are often ignored by studnts AND faculty.  They need attention....not being told how wonderful they are even whe they get bad grades.....but just simple communication and contact....being shown that they are not invisible.
  • try and see other people veiw points
  • people stick w/ what they know and are comfortable w/, they don't try to understand someone who's different. They only ignore or make fun of them. And if you try to teach them that they don't take you seriously, because teens don't like listening to adults. But at an early age they're impressionable. At middle schools if you brought high school kids they looked up to and had them talk to then it helps.

(table of contents)

IDEAS FOR VALLEY-WIDE YOUTH COUNCIL - Finally, teens were asked to brainstorm ideas that a Valley-wide Youth Council might want to implement. These ideas were not prioritized, and are presented here as raw data:

1. make/build a place for teens to hang that is safe yet fun
2. we need to adress racial issues
3. create more counselors/mentors for students
4. i would try to get the schools to hire more counselors
5. The concil woud have to acctualy have some power, the abilty do things that are needed
6. create a teen commuity center.
Even if you create a teen enter, only 25 percent of the people will likeit
7. promote  acceptance and difference in schools
8. have more peer councilors than adult ones
9. create more free tutoring, places for free academic help
10. Ending violence through entire scool involvement and participation in events
11. school issues/ getting  a voice a school
12. make the promotion of diversity part of the school curriculum
13. address individuals more
14. List to teens!!!
15. I think that students should have more voice in academic factors
16. talk about more in the classroom, don't ignore issues like we do
17. create teen mentors
18. try to created other things to do for teens besides drugs and alcohol
19. connect the students in our district's high schools together through joint activites
20. have more connection to the real world outside of just a normal school day
21. I would try to get every opinion in and put the best of them to use
22. peer counselors at school
23. feeling more free at school not so traped
24. understand teens
25. Make counseling available and easy to access
26. have people come to middle schools to address these issues
27. extend the curfew
28. Schools need to stop ignoring the voices of their students
29. have a comfortable consueling service
30. create a designated drivers club
31. make it easier on teens
32. more academic counseling in middle school
33. Have more teen involvement in solutions to problems
34. Parent conferences,
35. find something better to do than break up parties
36. give students the opertunity to propose ideas for school classes that the kids think are needed
37. connect students in our district's high schools to those with other high schools outside of the district to exchange ideas
38. peer conseling programs
39. have more students give their opinions
40. suicide and dpression and eatting disored and issues like that
41. as a council member i would try to create more communications with the students in the schools, suggestion boxes in the principal's office would create a communication with th
42. find out more about student lives
43. spend a period in of time in schools really awknowledeging to the public that we need chnges in our comunity
44. Accept alternative schooling Venture
45. have different people make the decisions, not just the honor students
46. start health classes with the little kids--6th grade
47. have events and presentations for gaining acceptance and tolerance.
48. find out ways to get students involved/interested
49. make suggestions about powerful teaching and learning
50. try to stop DVP from breaking up social parties
51. give students some control in what goes on in the schools
52. Job experience
53. let students vote on issues that would affect them
54. making our teens closer
55. I would "clean up the schools" so to speak
56. spend more time on open disscussions and forums
57. create a recreation center for teens
58. Allowing u to explore our intrests through on the job training...not just a book
59. reach out to the kids that are just starting to deal w/ these probs, in mid. school
60. get rid of drugs on campus
61. student votes in schools
62. more internship support