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One Friday afternoon I was sitting in the crowded lobby of my doctor’s office, waiting to be

called in to be seen. Sneezes, coughs, and children’s conversations could be heard throughout the

office. The young girl sitting next to me, who I assumed was about 15 years old, was very

impatient as to waiting to be called in by a nurse. She kindly asked me what time it was and that’s

when our conversation sparked. I learned that her name was Ashley and that she was 17 years

old. When Ashley was only 4 years old her father walked out of her and her mother’s life. Ever

since then things have been unstable in her life. Later when she was 10 years old her mother

re-married the man who is now her “mean” step father. She claims that most of the problems

arose when her step father’s job required the family to relocate from Sacramento, California to the

Rio Grande Valley. She was required to move schools and make new friends.

Unfortunately these new friends were not at all the best influence on her and peer pressure

pressed forward. In Junior High she and her friends were known as the trouble makers, the group

of boys and girls who just went to school to make fun of the other students. She claims that these

three years were the hardest for her. Her younger half-brother was always sick and required a lot

of attention from her mother therefore her mother wasn’t always available to her when she needed

advice. At the age of 13 began to be involved in drugs, she said that her first incident with

cocaine nearly sent her to the grave. Ashley didn’t learn by that incident, she kept on using drugs

and over time built up to the stronger ones. It wasn’t long after the cocaine incident that she

became involved with boys. It wasn’t until the last time she was hospitalized for drug abuse that

she realized she should stop. Ashley said that without the help of positive television and good

friends she wouldn’t have been able to get out of her situation.

Ashley’s experience is similar to thousands in our country, where a troubled teen is helped

by exemplary television programming. Television programs aimed at young people help this

country’s youth deal with the problems of growing up.

Growing up in today’s fast moving society can be tough for teenagers who seem to

encounter problems frequently than the rest. At times a teenager feels isolated when confronted

with the problems of life. Many times when isolation occurs the teenager will feel as and an

outcast and become unwilling to seek help. Our youth’s problems originate in various places and

situations. Just like all people are different their problems are different.

Many of our country’s problems originate in the home within the family. At times a

teenager might think that everything is going just great, but then out of nowhere tragedy occurs.

Divorce. Everyday the divorce rate is climbing up the statistics chart faster and faster. Divorce

alleviates many marital problems but can also intensify a teenagers problems. Many young ones

suffer the traumatic consequences of their parents divorce.

These consequences can cause life jeopardizing situations in which a teenager will not

know how to respond. I’ve seen my cousin, Sara’s life go in opposite directions after her

parent’s bitter divorce. After the divorce her mother, who had legal custody began to pursue

dating as a regular routine and gave less and less attention to her children. Sara began to feel

alone and after a while joined in a local gang to make her feel accepted. Ever since the divorce

Sara has not progressed.

Other problems can occur within a household such as having to deal with alcohol abuse

Alcoholism is not defined as drinking moderately, but it is a serious disorder where a person uses

alcohol to hide their problems. Alcoholism only makes it harder on the family. At times the

family will have to cope with physical abuse, mental and sexual abuse. I have heard of many cases

where a drunken father will come home from a bar and physically beat his wife and children.

Children who witness this kind of abuse will grow up to think that abuse is normal and that it can

be tolerated. Therefore when they grow up they will more than likely have abusive partners or be

abusive themselves.

Since alcoholism affects not only the abuser but also his children, the pressures of an

alcoholic parent and school could cause serious obstacles. Many times I have seen parents

pressuring their children to be, “perfect”. These parents demand a full list of activities which their

child must attend and not to mention to get the highest rank of all their class. At times these

students can not take anymore pressuring and will rebel. I knew a boy in high school who’s

mother forced him to be in sports, be a straight A student, and to participate in a various amount

of clubs and organizations. All this pressure led for him to rebel against his mother and rebel

against his teachers.

The pressures of good grades, other students and teachers appears unbearable to the

teen-ager and consequently he give’s in to misleading students. Peer-pressure, one of the hardest

obstacles to overcome occurs when a student is tempted and does what he doesn’t want to do.

But because teen-ager’s know what tactics to use when persuading someone to give in, the

helpless youth is easily reeled in like fish reeled in with live bait.

Along with peer-pressure I think of gangs and the influence they have among the other

students. Gangs have a great amount of power with them. They know just the right the

strategies to get teenagers to do what they say. Whether if it is to leave someone’s girlfriend

alone or if it to convince someone to join their gang. Gangs and the peer pressure brought on by

gangs is a huge problem that our society’s teenagers face. The rate of gang membership increases

by hundreds every week. Teenagers are being brainwashed and pressured into joining gangs.

New members will more than likely have to be brutally beat to be apart of a gang. A process

called initiation, where the new member will suffer punches and kicks. In certain gangs entrance

membership depends on the number of felonies committed within a certain time. New members

might have to steal or even commit murder to have entry into a gang.

What actually comes with being in a gang is the tough stuff. Peer-pressure is at it’s high

when everyone in the group is doing it. Peer-pressure is when peers obligate another do as them.

Teenagers will be introduced to drugs in their these gangs. Temptation will then occur and this is

the teenager gets week and gives in. Peer-pressure not only occurs in gangs but is a problem

that can occur in any environment.

Luckily our society has realized that in order to improve our youth we must have sources

where they can turn to in a case of grief. What a better way than through television. Television

programs aimed at young people help this country’s youth deal with the problems of growing up.

Today’s television programs entertain the youth in a positive way. Almost fifty million

televisions are turned on each evening. Sixty-four percent out of those fifty million are individuals

between the ages of 12-18. Instead of our teen-agers being out on the streets fighting the street

life, the majority are staying in and receiving the support they need to conquer there problems.

Television programs enrich personal goals and help them develop moral values. Such things are

essential for success.

Before the television show Oprah, sorrowful circumstances such as divorce or alcoholism

were seldom discussed in public, much less on national television. If someone fell into one these

situations it was kept a secret from the community and at times from the parents. Afraid of being

an embarrassment to their family the youth frequently would keep it to them selves and not let any

one know of their problems. Secretism only led to ignorance and forced the victims to have to

cope with their issues all alone.

As a young teenager I was a strong admirer of the television series, “The Baby-Sitter’s

Club”. The characters faced the same problems most children and teenagers face. These

individuals confronted problems such as divorce and handled them graciously. They were the

positive examples my generation needed.

I clearly remember an episode where one of the character’s was facing my friend Ashley’s

problems. The character and her mother moved across the country after her parents divorce.

Soon she found herself isolated. Isolated from her schoolmates and her mother also. The

character got to the point where drugs became an option to relieve her from her worries. But

fortunately the Baby-Sitter’s Club member’s pulled her out of her problems and lead her towards

success. Perhaps Ashley could’ve benefited from a this episode before she got involved with


As mentioned before, Oprah, has added guidance and comfort to many teen-agers seeking

help. She has aired a significant amount of shows dedicated just for teen-agers. During these

shows she interviews an individual who might have been a victim of gang violence or might have

been a high school drop-out. Her questions include, “What can the viewers at home do if they

ever find themselves in the same type of situation as you were?”.

Another television show that deals with real life situations is, M-TV’s The Real World.

This series unites six strangers from different parts of the nation, who perhaps come from

different cultures, who are of different religions, and who differentiate in the amount of problems

they’ve faced. The object of being chosen is to survive in the environment given, living with five

strangers. This program teaches today’s youth that where ever you go and what ever you do, you

will not always get along with the people you work with. In the show conflicts are not always

handled with care, the characters have to cope with living with someone they just can’t get along

with. I remember in one episode a young male who was kicked out of the house because of his

radical ideas. This gives our youth a taste of the real world, how it will be in working

environment, or living with a roommate.

Another strong point is that many positive role models are found through out

television. Either highly successful sports figures, singers, actors, and newscasters are fine

examples. Teen-agers need someone to look up to, someone who hold a common characteristic.

Many of televisions role models cast in many commercials. A perfect example of this is the

famous, “Drink Milk” campaign. Where the company hires many teen-idols to advertise their

product, the teen-ager purchases it, and the company receives sky-rocketing profits. Every one is

happy. The company receives the feed back they crave, the teen uses the same product just as

their roll model does and the celebrity receives the fame and a check in the mail.

I could list hundreds of wrong things a youngsters could be doing, but I’m sure you’ll

agree with me that the television industry has definitely grasped the attention of the young minds

and at the same time helped our community to succeed. Now Ashley is 20 years old attending a

local community college. She is living proof that television programming does help today’s youth

deal with the problems encountered while growing up. Personally I give the television industry

two thumbs up for the fabulous work they have achieved. Our television programming is

jam-packed with programs targeted on our youth’s problems. It helps them understand what they

are going through and lets them know that many teen-agers all over the country are facing the

same issues.


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