Christian Heritage students win essay contest with anti-violence messages
Steamboat Springs — Two Christian Heritage School students won awards in the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers’ Association essay contest. Tyler Johnston won first place and $100 in the eighth-grade division and Flori Van Baak won third place and $50 in the seventh-grade division. The contest was open to schools in several northwest Colorado counties. Today, we’re printing the winning essays, with their anti-violence messages, as a way to commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy:
by Tyler Johnson
Violence greatly affects our society today. Violence has made its way into every part of our lives. You hear it and you see it everywhere you go. Wars, school shootings, gang rapes, murders and bombings of public places are blasted on the news. People no longer have a feeling of security when they are in public. They are uncomfortable around people of different races and beliefs. Movies, video games and television programs have communicated to youth that it is all right to kill, rape and steal. Our country, which our forefathers created for safety and freedom, has turned into one of the most violent countries in the world. I believe the youth of my generation lack moral values, and they need to be taught the difference between right and wrong.
I believe one of the reasons that violence is so prevalent in my generation is because kids have no goals or hope. They seem to have nothing to live for in their lives. Violent kids often do not have a strong family unit. Either they are orphans or their family does not care about them. There are many parents who do not appear to care about what their kids do, such as letting them stay out as late as they want. They do not discipline them or encourage them not to do things that are wrong. They also may not have any good friends. Youth often have no one to talk to in hard times, and their only way of making people realize they are there is by performing acts of violence.
Another reason why youth violence and aggression has increased over the years is because they are angry at everything and everyone. One of the factors that make some youth angry is because they are poor and are jealous of the rich. They may also be part of an abusive family. Another reason why a person would be angry is because they want to take revenge. They build up hate inside themselves to the point of hurting or killing others. The two Columbine killers, who attacked and killed 14 people including themselves, attacked because they had built up so much hatred and anger. This situation makes me think twice before joking around with some kids.
Most times, when violence takes place among youth, it is because they are angry and they never get help. Often kids who show this emotion are rarely told that it is wrong, therefore, they have no guilt about taking revenge. Some people will bomb a building just because of horrible situations in their life such as an abusive father. Alcohol and drug use can also stimulate aggressive behavior. Substance abuse also has substantially increased among the youth of our nation.
Many violent youth feel no remorse when they commit violent acts against others. They feel no sorrow when they shoot or kill someone. It is almost like they are mindless, bloodthirsty robots. One of the reasons why some people kill is because they want to feel the rush of taking someone’s life. They have seen it so much in television programs and movies that they want to feel what it is actually like. They may have also learned it by being part of a violent family. Like father, like son applies very often in gangs. Either the father is a part of a gang and the kid wants to be like his father, or the father beats his son so the son figures it is all right to kill or bully around other kids. Violence is also easy when kids have taken so many drugs that they almost feel nothing and can’t think straight.
Fear and violence has also affected me in my safe, small town, because of the news reports I hear and the violence in the movies. I often wonder if violence can happen to me. This fear is nationwide, and is affecting our sense of security even in our own homes. We need to get back to training kids about right and wrong and identifying the signs of anger.
By Flori Van Baak
Friends are a force that is with you. We all experience peer pressure in some way or another. A peer can be a friend, someone involved with your social group or someone you are around a lot. Pressure can have lots of meanings, pressures can be a force applied to someone, a friend’s power to persuade you to do something you aren’t totally comfortable about. Peer pressure can have a bad effect, however; it can also have a good effect on someone.
Positive peer pressure is good, friends could get into trouble not only with their parents and teachers but also with the law if they do not stay busy. Friends can stay busy in Steamboat Springs by going to the movies, shopping, horseback riding and skiing. If friends are not creative with their time they could get into trouble and start smoking or drinking. If one of my friends ever started drinking or smoking I would definitely tell them that smoking, drinking and drugs are all very addictive and could eventually kill them. If they would not stop I probably would not be their friend any more. I would put positive peer pressure on them not to smoke.
Peers can have a big influence on your ability when it comes to competition. For instance if a team member tells you that you could improve if you passed the ball more, you would work on passing the ball more. If a coach says that you should work on catching the ball while you are running you would work on catching the ball while you run. In junior high, sports teams are divided up by age, but when you enter high school teams are divided up by ability. If you want to be with your friends, you have to be as good as they are, or if you want to be with excellent players you have to be as skilled as they are. Grades are another way of competing with your friends or peers.
An accountability partner can hold you to the standards that fit your beliefs. This partner should have about the same beliefs as you do so that you can comfortably talk about your beliefs and keep you true to what you believe. If someone asked your accountability partner why they refused to smoke or get drunk, and started to tease them while you were there you could stick up for your partner. Another thing that can keep you on the right track but they work on getting you to improve through your church, church youth group, school, or after school programs. Every Halloween my youth group puts on a Halloween dance and invites a local assisted living home for the mentally handicapped. Our youth group makes these people feel welcome and makes them feel accepted instead of rejected. At school our Student Council did a blanket drive for the Voice of the Martyrs and gave a prize for the class with the most blankets at the end of the drive. There was some peer pressure involved to bring in blankets so that our class won the prize and to provide needed blankets for the needy. Belonging to a positive organization can help you to get more involved in your community.
Clearly, peer pressure can be a positive influence in teenagers’ lives. At our school everyone talks about how fun a youth group is going to be and not how fun it is going to be to get out of class early and get drunk or go smoke. When children are raised and learn good morals it is easy to make good choices about peer pressure. Peer pressure happens to everyone. This is an unavoidable force put on us by everyone, we need to realize that peer pressure can help us to learn to make good choices so that when we grow up we know how to make good positive choices.
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While warm days and nights are fueling strong flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs, the pace of runoff is expected to dip this week.