The "gangster" lifestyle depicts a life full of sweet rides, cool clothes, hot girls and a lots of "easy money." The glorification of which, through pop culture, seems to be influencing the imaginations of many of our youth.
The violent life of crime found in shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, or video games like Grand Theft Auto, are anything but glamorous or fun. The predominance of this pop culture is having an impact on youth in their most formative years - when they are trying to figure out who they are, who the hang out with, how they dress and how they behave.
I am not suggesting that every teenager that listens to gangster rap, plays Grand Theft Auto or views Breaking Bad is going to adopt a criminal lifestyle. However, the influence of pop culture on maturing teenagers can not be dismissed. For too many youth it provides self-definition, a distorted review of respect and self-esteem.
The pressing issues of youth violence, addictions, bullying, mental health are amplified when government is not responding to the real life needs of our educators, parents and children. For a decade the Federation of School Councils in this province has been lobbying government to act proactively to help those most at risk. We have been virtually ignored.
We desperately need more guidance councillors in our schools. The federation has asked that the ratio be changed from 1-500 to 1-330. We have asked for more addiction and mental health assets, we have lobbied for changes to the Mental Health Act to empower parents who have been disenfranchised by a system that has emancipated youth at 16 to make their own decisions on addictions, mental health and living arrangements.
We are failing those most at risk of the lure of violent crime and addictions. Teachers, parents and guidance councillors are stressed and not given the tools and resources needed to successfully intervene and prevent these children from going down the wrong path - or taking their own lives.
A failure to implement policies that meet the needs of our youth only condemns many to poor self-esteem, poor choices, poor education and personal/societal outcomes that can be prevented.
Needs based education is well worth the investment as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. Lets stop failing those in need and deferring the societal costs to the next generation.
We not only can do better, we must.