Opinion: Truckee needs after-school activities for teenagers
February 10, 2016
The community of Truckee is far from perfect. There are issues everywhere you look, even if they are not big ones. Issues like robbery, low snow levels impacting our economy, homelessness, and drug and alcohol abuse are only a few.
Many other communities also have the same issues, but one of the most common issues in our community is there isn't anything for the teens to do in their free time.
"Truckee can become really boring if you're not a tourist. There is just nothing to do here," said a local teen girl named Jocelyn on Dec. 18, 2015.
Tourists haven't done everything here, unlike many of the residents here have. Nothing new or exciting has come up and caught the attention of teens in a while. These lack of activities lead to different types of bad behaviors that the teens in our community commit.
A lack of entertainment for teens in Truckee can lead to many problems such as juvenile crime, difficulties in school, and a lack of social abilities. The lack of entertainment options may lead teens into alcohol use, using drugs and/or cigarettes, and sexual activity.
On the website http://www.afterschoolallstars.com, it states, "The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex." (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2003)
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This explains how it has been proven that the after school hours have led teens into bad choices. These bad choices can affect the teens' entire lives. A lack of entertainment like this also leads to a downfall in the students' grades.
Studies, such as the Promising Afterschool Programs Study found on http://www.afterschoolallstars.org, have shown that the students who take part in after school activities such as bowling and going to see movies with friends actually show higher test scores.
When teens do not take part in those kinds of activities that often, they can get stressed, which can make the work that they are doing seem even harder. When students take a "brain break" for an hour after school, their brain will be refreshed and ready to do all the work.
"I am always stressed out about school and need to take time away from thinking about school. Every time that I do take a break, I normally do better on my schoolwork," stated Olivia a local eighth-grade student, on Dec. 7, 2015.
When students have that hour a day after school doing something they love that is non-school related, it leads them to success. While some parents might argue that it does the opposite, but in reality, even a 10-minute break leads to better success in school.
Having a moment a day when you can just relax and not think about school will help. Having that "brain break" will also prevent teens from having a lack of social abilities.
Not having something to do with your friends after school leads teens into having a lack of social abilities. Never having that ability to do something interesting with a friend will lead to excessive phone or computer use.
When on electronics, there is very little speaking with people one-on-one. When that same teen is forced to interact with somebody in person, they will not have those skills.
"I have realized recently that when I am with a friend, we spend more than half of the time we are together with electronics. Though I wish that this wasn't true, it is inevitable in our community. I believe there is nothing to do with friends other than hang out at a house. This leads to less social interaction between the people," said Maia, a teen in Truckee, on Dec. 7, 2015.
The lack of activities for teens leads to excessive electronic use and will cause teens to have a lack of social abilities.
Life for teens without the much-needed after school entertainment leads them to juvenile crime, a downfall in grades, and a loss of social abilities. These are just some of the negative effects that the absence of teen entertainment will cause.
With all the facts stated above, teen entertainment needs to be provided in our community to lessen the likelihood that these negative effects will occur. As an added bonus, other community problems will start to vanish.
Something needs to be done. The teens of our community have a long life to live and if we don't provide them entertainment, life will be a huge waste of time for them.
Lizzy Mason is a Truckee resident and an eighth-grade student at Sierra Expeditionary Learning School in Truckee. This opinion column represents a class assignment in which she was expected to address an issue she saw in our community.