Two extremes of the youth experience

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two articles juxtaposed on yesterday’s front page pointed up the two extremes of the youth experience in Suffolk. In one, a group of 18 students from the city’s high schools and middle schools took the oath of office to serve as members of the Youth Advisory Council. The other told the story of a 16-year-old shot in the parking lot of an apartment complex following an argument at a party.

It’s still unclear what was happening when the boy was shot early Sunday. Police have said an argument moved from an apartment into the parking lot, where shots were fired, possibly from more than one gun. Whether the boy was involved in the original altercation or was merely an innocent bystander is a question that a police investigation will have to answer.

Even so, the city could not have planned a more perfect example of the need for a group like the Youth Advisory Council. One of the group’s youngest members, speaking to a reporter after the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, said he hopes the organization can take steps to eliminate teen pregnancy and gang violence from Suffolk’s borders.

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To be sure, members of the council are appointed in part because of their outstanding records of academics and community service, so it’s unlikely that many are plugged tightly into the culture at Suffolk’s other extreme, the culture that left a teenager with multiple gunshot wounds Sunday morning.

Still, though, the idea of a group of youth dedicating itself to helping solve the problems that contribute to the destruction of their young friends is a step toward lifting up that endangered segment of Suffolk society.

Work hard, kids. There’s much at stake.