According to the study released with this headline by Reuters in 1999 only 37% of adults believe the country's youth will play a productive role in society as adults. Two-thirds of Americans surveyed used such adjectives as rude, irresponsible and wild to describe today's young people. So, where are Americans getting their mis-information about young people?
We think the media. Like our parents, and our parents' parents, youth are growing up stereotyped by the general population. Assumptions are made about our intelligence, experience and motivation. The truth about youth is that we are creating and defining the future in positive and amazing ways!
We hope to change the way teens see the media, while changing the way the media sees the teens. Take a look at our Media Myth Quiz, our page about How to Read the Media, What to Do to counteract negative media, and Resources to check out if you want to know more.
We are the Just Think team hired in collaboration with the Just Think Foundation and Displaced Films to develop a media literacy campaign based on the series Senior Year.
As the show goes on, we'll be telling you what we think on the Senior Year message boards. Go to the Talk Back section of the site to see what we have to say.
ALEJANDRA My name is Alejandra and I'm 16 years old. I'll be entering the 11th grade next year. I was born here in San Francisco. My parents are from El Salvador in Central America. Throughout my life I have been presented with lot of challenges. One of the hardest things I've lived through was spending my childhood in an abusive family. I got out of that situation because I couldn't stand it anymore and decided to move in with my best friend's family. Now, they are the only true family that I have and I thank them for their support. Without them I would be lost. I also consider myself to be a very strong person because I have been through so much and I have survived. I am a very unique person because I like to do things that most kids my age don't. I love to read books and listen to classical music. When I graduate from high school I want to go to college and major in philosophy and religion. I also want to be a Psychologist. I believe I will achieve these dreams. I need to become somebody in life and I hope to prove to my family that I can become everything that they want me to be. I want to leave you my motto: "What ever doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger."
ANTHONY My name is Anthony. My dad's parents were born in Nicaragua, a small country in Central America, and my mom's parents were born in Mexico. My parents split up before my first birthday. I have no recollection of them being together. They had two kids, my sister Carla, 19, and me, 14. My dad met another woman and they married a few years later. A year after that they had a child, my little sister, Alejandra, 9.
Last December my mother passed away. I was cruising through the eighth grade and I had just gotten a scholarship to the high school of my choice. I was feeling good. Then on Christmas morning, of all the days to get bad news, I awoke to my family surrounding my bed. I was told that my mother had taken her own life. I was crushed. My life would never to be the same. My mom was not only a parent, but also one of my best friends. Some things have changed for the better though. I'm closer to my family and my friends, and I think I'm as mentally and spiritual tough as I have ever been. It gave me a new perspective on life. Life should not be taken for granted. To my family, my step momma, my dad, my sisters, John and C-la, my bro Kill, my cousins, my tias, my uncles, erybody. Peace, love, and soul.
CADY Once upon a time I was born to hippy parents. I was named Cady (pronounced Katy) and soon became my own person. I am an outspoken, talkative, charismatic, tree-hugging, incoming junior. I am not the stereotypical rich white girl with the big house, the kid brother, or the dog. Instead, I am the middle/lower class beige/pink girl that takes things how they come. I find happiness in going to spoken word events with friends, inspiring people to be themselves, and finding the good in the bad. (Oh yeah, Christina, Alejandra, Iqra, and I also enjoy waiting for the 43 bus in the COLD and yelling at the truck drivers that try and pick us up, sheesh!) I am living by the golden rules that 1. You should do what feeds your soul, and 2. Time will heal all wounds, and 3. What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. Thanks to all the people who make my life work. I would have slipped up and fallen down without you all.
CHRISTINA Hi there! My name is Christina a.k.a. Crestina. I am 161/2 years old and am going to be a Junior in the class of 2004. I want to say HI! to all of my crazy friends--Joanna, Jane, Alejandra--and to my family that love me very much. I come from a very good and strong family that has always been there for me night and day. I was born in San Francisco on November 19, 1985 to a very dear Salvadorian lady named Carmen (my mom of course!). She brought me into this great and wonderful world. I have become a very friendly person with high goals, a positive mind and very good morals. I love hanging around with my friends. I enjoy working and making my own money, playing with little babies and going to the park. I like going to school and getting to know a lot of new people. I especially enjoy going shopping with my friends and watching new movies at the theatre. I have a wonderful heart that adores every living thing around me--except little crawling things such as bugs.
My parents motivate me to go on with life, to live a happy existence. My friends support me in every way. They are always there by my side when I need them the most. The little ones in my family give me motivation to stay in school and get a college degree. My two biggest goals in life are to rule the world and to graduate from college with my master's degree. Won't that be so cool! I know I'll get to do the second one. Life is the best because you get to learn and experience lots wonderful and new things. Always smile and believe in yourself. Love others in return and always remember that the truth is out there! LOL. Bye the crazy gurl Crestina!
DOMINIC What sup with you? My name is Dominic and I grew up in East Palo Alto. I am a product of my environment. Growing up in this neighborhood made me aware of and educated about of some of the problems we have in urban America. I have enjoyed working with Just Think.
I am a strong believer in change, so I start by making myself an example of positive possibilities. Everyday I try to make a change in my life. I have no doubt that one day I will make a huge difference in this world. I am just taking baby steps by being part of such an amazing group of teen leaders working on this project.
ETHAN My name is Ethan, E-Dub, E-Dog, E-Diggy (definitely not E-Diddy) and occasionally E-Train. I guess I would say that I grew up a hip-hop, music loving, tape dubbing, city clubbing, skater type of person. I spent most of my early teen years wandering the downtown streets of SF running from da fuzz. Although I was a productive and positive person, being a youth in a downtown full of businessmen and women, I was immediately stereotyped as being lazy, disrespectful,and unhealthy for society. I was raised by my folks (the old hippies, lots of love) and my sister (who kept me from being a complete dork) to be very open minded. I have done my share of traveling which has made me open to new ideas and re-evaluate my own. I try to keep it real with myself and all my peoples.
FLOR To understand me, you have to know that my mother is a single mom who has dedicated her life to raising my older brother and me. We are a Latino family with a lot of pride and honor. At 16 years old I have had four jobs--not because we have needed the money, although money is tight, but because I like to be independent and I don't want my mom to worry about my personal expenses. I try my best no matter how hard the work. I do this to make myself and my mother proud. My family supports me and believes that I will be someone important someday. Even still, things at home are not picture perfect. We have issues and problems in our home, yet God is always watching over us, listening to my prayers and keeping us together.
I needed this support most on the night of my sixteenth birthday when something unexpected happened. My mother and brother sat in our dining room and spoke to me about my father. My mom told me that he was alive and that I had the opportunity to meet him if I wanted. I asked my mom if he had ever asked for me and why he hadn't tried to communicate with me. This summer I will go to El Salvador and plan to meet my father and my older brother and sister. I am going with the hope that he will answer my questions and calm my doubts.
On my trip, I hope to learn more about my history and culture. As a Latina, I value my commitment to my family, yet I highly value the American importance placed on planning for my future and success as a career woman. As a mother, I will pass down my culture to my children. They will also be raised the same way my mother raised me--with pride, dignity and respect.
HAZEL I'm Hazel a.k.a. Huera, a 16 year old strong, open minded female. Some people might look at me that way, but some may say "poor immigrant", or even "poor child," but that's not what I am. One thing I am happy about is that at least I survived. I came from Bosnia, Europe from a small town called Orasje. I grew up with both of my parents but lived with my grandma until she died in 1993 from cancer. I was very close to her.
I am going into 11th grade next year. Last year, I ran track & field and cross country. I was the Vice President for the Sophomore class of 2003. I am trying to do better and not screw up in school as much as I did for the last three years. I always keep it real to myself through thick and thin, no matter what! I am bisexual. My parents still don't want to admit this truth to themselves. I know it's hard for them and it will take them time. My best friend, Paulina thinks I'm crazy when I tell her my stories about girls. But, when nobody is there for me, she is. We are very different but that's why we are best friends. I have learned you always need a friend's shoulder to lean on.
IQRA Hi, my name is Iqra. I go to School of the Arts High School. I was born in Pakistan on August 21, 1986, and came to San Francisco in 1997. As a teenager, I have faced many different issues and had many different experiences. Growing up here, I have been tangled up between my Pakistani culture and the American culture. As a Pakistani Muslim, I'm not allowed to have boyfriends. I'm not even allowed to have close friendships with guys. The only male I can get close to is my future husband, who is supposed to be chosen for me by my parents. As a result of being an American, I began to question my native culture's values. I began to rebel against the customs and ideals that I grew up with. I became distant towards my parents and our relationship moved to a whole different level. I act really differently at home than I do at school with my friends, as a result of being a part of two very different worlds. That bothers my parents, but I thank them for raising me and being supportive. To my brother Hassan... thanks for listening to me and for being a crazy annoying younger brother. To all of my friends... you know who you are.
JAMAL I'm Jamal. I've just graduated from Burton High and this fall I'll be attending San Jose State University where I'll be studying computer and chemical engineering. The past two years I've been working at the Exploratorium, a science museum here in San Francisco. My hobbies include playing football, baseball, basketball, and any other sports that are fun. I also go to the movies, spend time with my family, and just kick it with my peeps. I also write poetry. I wanna send a shout out to my mom (we gonna make it mom. Your baby boy is going to give you the world someday!!!!!), my sister Nzinga (I love you Zingy), my boy Charles, Dom, Pia Pia, and all my family and friends that's been there for me.
JAY I'm Jay. I grew up with only one parent but had enough love to go around for a room full of people. My family put a lot of time into raising me. I've been taught that the world is not so much for the keeping, but for the making. I'm currently in the 11th grade and am looking forward to going to college when I graduate. I want to become successful and then I want to help people who don't have the opportunities that I did. I love to run cross country. This sport has taught me to always set a goal and work hard enough to reach it. God is very important in my life. He always guides me so that I feel I have someone to fall back on. I really like to express myself by talking and writing (sometimes too much). I was an editor and writer for my school community newspaper last year. Working on this project helped me gain a new voice for a new cause. I've changed the world by making my voice heard.
JESSALYNN My name is Jessalynn and I'm 14. I have four sisters and two brothers. I guess I'll give their shout outs now, so what's crackin' Jhalainna, Jhalisa, Crystal, Chanel, Jeremiah, and A.J? I'm black and Philippino and I love hip hop culture -- it's a big part of who I am and what I'm about. Music is half of my soul. I can go from Mozart to Mos Def, Lee Ann Rimes to Lil Bow Wow. Free Styling is one of my favorite hobbies along with talking and chillin with my friends. I guess they would describe me as a fun, strong willed person with a good personality.
I also love going to school and learning new things. Living is learning and knowledge is power. I would love to accomplish many goals in life. I plan to attend college and become a lawyer.
MARSHAUN My name is Marshaun. I am 17 and I'm going to be a senior in high school. My favorite hobbies are playing basketball, chess, and doing karate. I have overcome many trials and struggles throughout my young life. At times it was hard for me to stay strong. But I realized that only by staying strong will I get through my struggles and keep from falling into a pit. Now I try to turn all negatives into a positive. Based on all the events in my life, I hope to instill these same characteristics into everyone who's reading this.
MICHELLE First, I want say thank you to all my friends and family, especially my brother Jovan and his girlfriend Dawn. To my future husband and his mother--I love you. Keep on doing what you do that makes me work hard to be a success. If I have forgotten anyone, I thank you for what you have done for me.
The streets are what made me. They made me want to go out there and get my education. No, not a G.E.D (Good Enough Degree)--not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not "good enough" for me. After I graduate from high school, I plan to go to a junior college for two years and transfer to UCLA Film School. It won't be easy but I'm going to make it. One of my teachers once told me, "You don't know where you're going, unless you know where you've been." I'm sure not going to forget that, because where I'm from is who I am. Where I'm going will be a result of street smarts and four long, hard years of college. My brother once told me to look at the people around me and ask myself if I want to be like them or better than them. Well Jo, not only will I be better, but I'll always remember everything you taught me.
MELISSA My life all starts in a house on Masonic Street, in San Francisco at 4:30 in the afternoon. I guess you could say that I lived a somewhat "normal" life during my childhood. My father and mother were always by my side, comforting me when I got scared, buying me anything my spoiled little heart desired. You could say that life was good. When I was six my Aunt Susan and three cousins moved in with me. Those next three years would be some of the best and worst of my life. During this time, I experienced what it's like to share, have three brothers, and my parents breaking up.
My aunt and three cousins moved out when I was nine years old when we acquired a roommate. I thought he was the coolest person until he and my mother began a relationship. I was too young to really understand what was going on. It was weird because my mother and father were still living together in the same house, but in different rooms. Two days after my twelfth birthday, my life took yet another turn. My mom and her boyfriend moved out together and my dad moved out on his own with my dog Domingo. I moved in with my aunt and her family in North Beach. By sixth grade, I moved up to Alaska with my aunt. I felt very alone because I was living with a family that I wasn't really a part of. They are a very reclusive family. I moved back to the bay area by eighth grade, eventually moving in with my mom. I was beginning yet another new life. I got accepted to the School of the Arts and was excited for my first year in high school. In the summer of freshman year I attended an art program in LA. During my program I received a visit from my dad. He told me that my mother had passed away. I froze and I thought that the world had fallen from beneath me. My mother was my best friend and losing her has been one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to endure but... it has made me stronger. Now I am entering my junior year of high school and I feel like a modern day 16-year old woman warrior. I have survived so much! I can't wait until I can put my superwoman powers to good use.
MCKENZIE My name Mckenzie, MAC or Kenzie for short. I am 16 years old and a proud African American. I want to shout out the fam. Of course, my mom (I love you momsypo), pops, my sisters Nicky (I will always look up to you, Nick. Let's do this fashion thing), Lisha, and Brandy, my auntie's, play mommies, uncles, all my brothers, nieces, cousins and nephews. To all of my family in Cali, and Down South. To my best-est friend in the whole wide world, Tierra \ Tinka, you know you are like a sister to me and regardless of what happens you know we been through a lot and I always got much love for you, crazy. My peoples (everyone) at I.S.A. CLASS OF O3 , ya know. Our time is coming ya'll lets do this. And last, but not least, everyone in the city, the bay and everywhere else that have fallen because of these streets, R.I.P -- ya'll know who ya'll are.
N'NEKA What'up? My name is N'neka a.k.a. Ne-Ne. I'm 13 years old and I was born and raised in Hunters Point, San Francisco. When I grow up I want to become a lawyer because I love solving problems. I really like to hang out with friends, and shop. Also, I love to talk on the phone. I like making videos about my community. I made one with the Just Think Foundation called "Miracle Makers". It has been shown at many youth film festivals including the Black Film Festival here in SF. "Miracle Makers" is about grandmas who raise their grandkids and are a big part of our lives. I don't like to play any sports, but I'm a cheerleader. That's the closest that I'll get to being physically active. I really don't watch TV--I don't have the time, because I'm always on the phone. I thank everybody who has helped me become the N'neka I am today.
SHARI My name is Shari and I just turned sweet sixteen. I am an African American student in my junior year. My parents got a divorce when I was a little girl, and this particular obstacle in my life made me the person I am today. I am thankful for my family and friends, whom I love and cherish: my mom, who I received my brains and beauty from; and my dad, who I got my people personality from; my big brother, who has taught me that I don't know everything that I claim to and to be more compassionate with others; and finally Shila, my all time best friend, who is the reason I laugh and the other part of me I never met. My views and opinions on deep issues are diverse and universal. My dreams are to become an actress and star in action, drama and comedy movies.
SHILA My name is Shila, I'm 15. Even though I'm young, I know a thing or two about life. The friends I've chosen along the way have helped make me into the person I am today. Everyday I meet new people and learn more and more about the world I live in. I'm a strong-minded person with many ideas and a lot to say. The people who know me best would call me hard headed and strong. I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. The biggest influences in my life have been my mother, father, sister, brother and my best friends Ney-Ney, Jessi, Sara and Shari. I love my life with a great passion for the things that matter, and I respect all people who respect me.
ZOLI My name is Zoltan. Many call me Nature Boy, for all my life I have desired and enjoyed the beauty of our home outside the material world. I go out for this fascination by hiking, biking, and venturing out in the wilderness wherever and whenever I can. I love to travel all over the world, to smell fresh, unpolluted air and to see the sites of the outdoors. My passion, as well as exploring nature, is film making. I take my video camera wherever I go.
It's my duty to spread awareness. There are so many issues that most of America is blind to. I am an environmental / animal rights / human rights activist. I am a Vegan. I am a powerful activist and show my support at all kinds of protests, rallies, and city council meetings. People don't feel they have any power in this world because they are only one of 7 billion. But the truth is that there are many ways of to make a difference. I am living proof. Get out there! Peace out.