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Promoting good decisions

As with so many things in life, there are no easy answers to the problems that face the youth of Suffolk — and America — today. From teen teenage sexuality to violence on the streets to declining test scores to a seeming loss of social mores, the social climate surrounding teens today is more potentially poisonous than at any time in the history of the nation, much less the community.

Poor choices today can have the same results that they always have — teen pregnancy, prison, injury or even death. But there are so many more opportunities for teens to go wrong today than ever before that the chances for negative consequences are higher than ever. There are so many more temptations than ever before — and society’s standards have fallen to such a low point — that it is a rare teenager who makes it to adulthood without at least knowing someone who has succumbed to those temptations and now faces a lifetime of diminished opportunity.

Recognizing that Suffolk is hardly immune to the pressures that beset America’s youth, a number of organizations have renewed their commitment to providing educational opportunities, recreational options, spiritual counseling and other help aimed at turning local youth away from paths that will lead to their own destruction.

A recent example was the Youth Summit at New Gospel Temple Church in Whaleyville, where a small group of teens and pre-teens learned about the dangers of bullying, gangs, prison and unprotected sex. “The decisions you make today affect your life tomorrow,” Rhonda Jones, a health educator with the Suffolk Health Department, told the group.

Such a basic statement comes as news to a shocking percentage of teens. Most adults have lived through enough negative consequences to understand the true impact of Ms. Jones’ comment. Most also can appreciate the work of people and organizations who make it their business to help youth understand the nature of decisions and consequences.

It’s not easy to help teens stay on the right path. Those who do so deserve our thanks and our support.