the lost children of rockdale county
Discussion: General Comments: What are your reactions and thoughts about this FRONTLINE report?
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Dear FRONTLINE

I was still in high school when this show aired. I graduated from a high school in a neighboring county to Rockdale, and can genuinely say that Rockdale Co. has no where that a teenager can go and nothing that a teenager can do, so they end up just having sex for entertainment. Not everyone, but a fair majority. I mean, 200 cases of syphilis when there are only about 8000 reported cases in America every year? Open your bloody eyes people. Keep an eye on your children, know where they are, who they hang out with, what they're doing. As parents it is your responsibility to assure your childs safety and health. You aren't there to be their friend right now, you are there to be their parent. The friend part will come when they are older and more rational. Besides Frontline wasn't just attacking you, it was trying to educate, and you can't always please all of the people all of the time, especially when they are defensive.

Ellenwood, GA

Dear FRONTLINE

I saw this show quite a while ago, but I was very disturbed by it. I was most disturbed by the fact that while much was said about what the young people had done to their families and community, little at all was said about what they had done to themselves. The youths didn't seem to have any understanding of the idea of being kind to or respectful of themselves, including both mind and body. They abused themselves and didn't really seem to know it, and it seemed to me the researchers and families didn't understand that either.

Carolyn Mills
Portland, OR

Dear FRONTLINE

...As an Urban Planning professional, I could not help but notice the appearance of the "built environment" in Rockdale County. The children depicted in the documentary appeared to live in a community devoid of public spaces designed for the human scale, and devoid of any interaction with members of society other than those of their own age. It seemed that nearly every scene from the documentary, except those from within the confines of the upper-middle class homes, was filmed in a parking lot. Is it any wonder that the malicious and promicuous acts perfomed by these children go unnoticed by adults?

Conyers was portrayed as a community that fails to provide public areas where human interaction can occur on at scale where all generations of society have the opportunity to participate in daily public activities such as sitting in a park, enjoying the bustle of a town square, walking down a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood, etc.

The natural and the "built" environment is the frame for daily human living. I do not suggest that a beautifully designed architectural and urban environment is the silver bullet that will solve all of society's woes, but there is much to be said for the notion that communities that provide wonderful public spaces for their inhabitants also provide a context for multiple generations to intermingle and play out their appropriate societal roles. The children of Rockdale County appeared lost and misguided as their opportunity to experience public space was nothing more than an opportunity to stand in a motor oil-stained parking space.

Matt Robenalt
Fort Collins, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE

There was a saying some years ago..."It's 10 PM, do you know where your kids are?" If you don't know where they are, why?

What impressed me most about this story was that when all was said and done the parents were unwilling to hold themselves accountable. I can understand that at first the shock of it all would be overwhelming, but after the truth of the situation sinks in, a parent has got to ask themselves, "What is my role in this?" and overcome the denial and looking for outside influences for an excuse.

The point is not for the parent to wallow in self guilt, but to make a completely honest and unexagerated self examination, admit their short comings, seek help in therapy or parental counseling if necessary and open the lines of communication again. Or perhaps for the very first time...

Eve Norton
Santa Fe , New Mexico

Dear FRONTLINE

I just wanted to add that although during the program it was mentioned of the syphillis outbreak, nothing was ever said regarding AIDS,considering the great deal of promiscuity that existed among the group of children involved in the report.

Weren't any cases of AIDS discovered? Also it is rare that there were no cases of homosexuality among the boys, as when there are collective orgies, many times there occurs sex among the same partner, be it of either sex.

In any case, I would greatly appreciate any clarification on these topics, for I feel that they are important to know, in addition to what was already presented during the program. Thanks for allowing me to share my opinion in this regard.

Tommy Steyer
Vero Beach, Florida.32963-1740

Dear FRONTLINE

First of all, I would like to say that I am a 16 year old who grew up, and still is growing up, in a less-than-stellar home environment. My father is dead, my mother is an alcoholic, and I live in a small apartment in a poor part of town.

Nonetheless, I have worked hard in my studies and in my personal growth, so as to not fall into these traps of alcoholism, sex, and peer pressure.

To all of you that blame the parents, schools, or whoever, that is just passing the buck...

To sum it all up, take it from a teen. We have minds of our own, and we know what we're doing. As a teen I think we should spend more time fixing this than complaining and passing around the blame...

Derek Williams
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dear FRONTLINE

I am a 19 yr. old college student. Luckily, I survived high school, despite the social pressures that children of all ages are forced into. I thank Frontline for calling attention to a huge problem that faces all children during the teenage years.

I feel that the problems facing teenagers all across this nation cannot be solved by simply turning to God or the multitude of other quick fixes that politicians and other adults in positions of influence can simply point out...

From the moment a child hits puberty, the child begins to be bombarded with a multitude of pressures. Kids have to fit in. Kids have to be popular, and far to often all across this nation, it means that kids have to have sex or do drugs to be popular...

Where do kids have to turn? Kids turn to each other, and they rebell against everything that's been crammed down their throats. I don't what the answers are, but with programs like Frontline, waking up parents and kids alike, maybe progress can be made towards keeping teenagers free enough to explore their world, yet guided enough to know that sex is a serious event to consider.

Blue Springs, MO

Dear FRONTLINE

When I first heard about this show, I thought that people were just making it worse than it really was...I sat down and watched it with my mother. To tell you the truth, I was so embarrassed about halfway through the show, I had to go into my room to finish watching it.

I knew almost every person that was on that show, yeah, some of them have made bad decisions, but there is always a chance to change, and trust me, some people look back and realize that what they did in the past was wrong.

I know that personally...I graduated from Salem High School in the class of 1999 and even though I was supposedly a lost child, I happened to land myself a job at a college and am able to take care of myself...I'm not lost!

They were only focusing on the bad things in "The Lost Children of Rockdale County", you need to do another show that focuses on the the children of Rockdale County, ones that were never lost in the first place.

Denise Aevaliotis
Conyers, Georgia

Dear FRONTLINE

Hi I am from Conyers and I am personally appalled at your story on the so-called "Lost Children" of Rockdale! Yes these children made mistakes and they are paying for it and their parents who let them do these things are paying for it too.

But you had no right to hurt the reputation of the children that don't do the things that those other children you interviewed did. But whether they did it or not they are being judged by people they don't know just because of where they live!

No child should have to go through that kind of treatment. Heritage High School has been through too much with the shooting, they didn't need you writing a story on one of their students and I am sure Rockdale High and Salem High didn't need it either.

But I hope you are pleased with the damage you have caused this county and the innocent children that live here. Next time you decide to do a story on Rockdale try to write something good instead of bashing them down to the ground!!

J K
CONYERS, GA

Dear FRONTLINE

This documentary was an amazing portrayal of teens allowed to make adult decisions with baby minds.

I made the mistake, in the past, of allowing my daughter too much freedom, thinking of course that it was time to allow her more independent thought. Well, I soon realized that although she was physically mature, her mind was essentially a little girl's. I soon pulled in the reins. She's almost 15 years old now and I think I'm making progress...

judy shulga
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dear FRONTLINE

Bravo! I applaud your courage in bringing this horrendous issue to the "frontlines". I work in the library of our local High School, and let me just say.....Parents, open your eyes! I am fortunate, I have an inside line with teenagers. My daughter was in a group of girls who are currently 9th and 10th grade.

The actions of Conyers are the actions of Ardmore. It is happening across the nation and parents need to stop saying "not my child", and start checking on what their children are doing. This is our baby girls who are being used by older boys. Lets put a stop to this insanity. True, we will be the bad guys, but are our children worth it? I think so.

I have daily contact with many of the girls and boys in our school system who are partying and having full blown orgies on the weekend. These are good kids! I have known them since kindergarten. That doesn't mean they are not partying and having sex. Please, parents, wake up and take responsibility for what is happening. Check their rooms, read their journals, invade their privacy. They will thank you some day. I thank God every day that I had the courage to invade my daughters life and pull her from this school. Keep up the good work.

Tammie Eggenberg
Ardmore, Oklahoma

Dear FRONTLINE

As a father of two grown children, one boy, one girl, I find the attitudes of the parents in the report appalling. I was/am my childrens father, not there buddy or friend. Yes, it was difficult, but I would not give in, and there were many nights of complete warfare in the house.

My wife and I insisted on knowing their friends and their friends parents. We received absolutely no support from the school, our friends or Church, in fact we were told we were being very unfair, and even damaging to our children. Thank God we didn't listen to our peers and the so called experts. Our children were never allowed to go to un-chaperoned parties. When they became old enough to drive, we insisted on their itenerary, and I would follow up and check. If the car wasn't where it was supposed to be, they lost thier driving priveledge, if they weren't where they were supposed to be, they were grounded. We now have a son who is a commissioned officer in the military and a daughter attending a midwestern university with a 4.0 GPA. They both have thanked their mother and I on numerous occassions for being parents and not their friends. My wife and I spent many hours teaching our values, the existence of absolute truths, what they are, etc.

We were involved with their homework, I even had to teach them history and un-do the New Age crap being taught in their High School, and yes, even the Church. Parents, don't ever asssume your children ae being taught values from teachers or ministers, get involved, know what is being taught, wake up and see what is going on under your very noses. You are wholly responsible for the up bringing of your children, not the State, school, or even the Church!!

Monte Lowrey
Lenzburg, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was extremely pleased with this report, and this problem is more prevalent than people want to believe. I feel the root of this problem are the parents. I got sick and tired of the gabage the parents tried to use as an excuse to justify their kids behavior. I can sum it up in two words : Poor Parenting! Rap music and cable TV? Give me a break! Try ignorance on for size. I listen to rap music exclusively and had the luxury of cable TV in my room, but I was also raised to know the difference between right and wrong. Nothing shapes the mind of children like the influence of the parent. If you spoil the kid with material items in place of paternal guidance then what would you expect? Your children are going to take everything for granted. Most everyone is a product of their environment. You have poor parenting, you have poor children. Stop looking at something else to blame other than yourself, responsibility and the instilling of it goes a long way in your child's actions.

Also, I feel sorry for anyone that responded to this saying that you should not try to have a friendship with your child. Having your parent as a resource to talk to about your problems is priceless! If you establish that connection rather than being nothing more than a figure of authority then you can guide your child through the difficult times instead of them having to break the rules to get attention. The child will feel more comfortable knowing they can talk to you as a friend about the issues at hand without the threat of discipline set upon them. I am not saying that punishment is out of the question, but it will be less of a factor is your child feels comfortable talking to you.

I can't express all the things I wanted to say without having to write a book, but if at any point anyone who reads this disagrees with what I have to say then I would be glad to hear your opinion on the matter. I belive this site can provide you with my e-mail address.

Rhino

Murray, KY

Murray, Kentucky

Dear FRONTLINE

As for everyone being so shocked about these kids' activities, wake up. The 1995 National Survey of Family Growth found that fifty percent of girls aged 15-19 have already had sex. Fifty-five percent of boys the same age had already had sex. This was almost five years ago. Are we going to wait until that half of our kids get infected with an STD before we start trying to come up with a solution? Or are we going to start taking responsibility before it's too late?

Everyone is responsible for this. Kids are getting such mixed messages about sex these days that by the time they get around to it, they don't know what they're doing. We've got conservatives screaming abstinence, the media screaming that sex is the thing to do, and parents too scared to talk about it. We need to reconcile all these conflicting messages before we screw up another generation.

w c
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE

There is some good news in the way of Teens today! The four recommendations for healthy teens are something we have in place right up the road from Rockdale County.

In Sugar Hill Location of the Mall of Georgia we have a program called Wyld Life for Middle School students and Young Life for High School students. We get close to 250 students who have 1 a safe place to congregate with adult supervision AND interaction, 2 Opportunities for them to actively contribute to family, neighborhood and community, 3 opportunities for active recreation, and 4 most importantly, adults who are "crazy about them!" The thing about this is that any community can have these programs, if only they were willing! Here is why some communities don't have Wyld Life and Young Life: They are non-denominational Christian Organizations. Heaven forbid we should be politically incorrect and have morality based in religion! Meanwhile, those who have political/religous agendas don't give a crap about kids contracting syphillis, they only care about their agendas. We supposedly teach children history in school so that they can learn from it. Have we learned from it? Look at Rome. Loss of religion, loss of moratlity, loss of the empire.

Could America be the next Rome? You bet, thanks to those who care more about political/religous agendas.

Rich Griffith
Sugar Hill, GA

Dear FRONTLINE

To those who criticize Frontline's portrayal of these teens as bad journalism - I think it's clear that the show did not in any way claim that ALL teens in Conyers participated in this type of behavior. Also, they made a point to show the girls who pledged to be virgins until marriage.

It's clear that these teens are just living out what they see glorified in modern American culture - alcohol, drugs, sex, and more sex. When sex is used to sell everything from bubble gum to cars, is it any wonder that our youth are promiscuous? These kids were lucky that we have a cure for syphilis. We don't, however, have a cure for what's wrong with their lives and their views of themselves.

When I was a teenager, I had a great but not perfect relationship with my mother. She respected me as a person, was and is my friend, AND she set clear limits and enforced discipline when necessary. It doesn't have to be all one way or the other.

I found particularly striking the part of the show where the mother and daughter talked about how they would be in the same house yet not see or talk to each other. This is key to the whole problem - the parents are not truly involved in their children's lives. Do they ever spend time together? How about talking about what's going on in the kids' lives, and actually caring? If you're a parent, this is just the beginning of what is needed to truly engage yourself in your child's life.

What does our culture hold up as being worthy of emulation? Consumption, sex, alcohol, excitement, etc. Where are the popular messages about the satisfaction of keeping a good marriage going for decades, and what it's really like to do so? Where do we see glorification of helping others, of the joy of expressing oneself through art, and of sticking by the ones you love when they really need to count on you? We don't, because it's not "sexy", it doesn't sell, and this, in my mind, is why we're headed down this awful road.

Beth Roberts
Austin, TX

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