By Natalie Perez, Take Ten Volunteer
Youth violence is something that I have been aware of for a long time. As a young kid, I witnessed youth violence in my own life. One of my best friends suffered a broken collar bone in seventh grade and was beaten up by a classmate’s older brother while he was visiting potential high schools the next year. It was because he was different. The boys who victimized him were insecure and, in order to feel better about themselves, they needed to have power over someone. In some ways, they were hurting just as much as my friend.
When you first meet the fourth grade class that you are placed in, the students are often so sweet and engaging. You can’t help but think, “How could any of these kids be capable of violence?” I believe that no kid is destined for violence. However, some of them succumb to violence due to personal struggles, hopelessness, or a need for control. Take Ten has allowed me to see that it is possible to prevent this cycle for kids. The kids that I teach are wonderful and loving people. My job is to help keep it that way; to teach them positive ways to deal with their problems instead of turning to violence.
When young people engage in violence, they hurt themselves as much as they hurt others. Volunteering with Take Ten has shifted my perspective on where youth violence comes from. Often, it comes from a place of pain. In teaching these kids, I truly come to care for each and every one of them. Now, I feel that it is my duty to step in to prevent youth violence by not only teaching them the curriculum but showing them that they are all deserving of a life free from violence.