Violence has affected my life since I lost my brother, SeQuorri Smith. I ended up changing so much because I thought police were supposed to protect the citizens of the United States of America. I never got justice for my brother, and I hope I get justice for him.

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He was interested in kid-like things, such as Xbox games, going to the park, holidays, family time, etc. But not anymore. 

The kids in my generation care more about drinking, smoking, parties, doing drugs — all these adult-like things.

Sometimes I think, “What happened to this world? How did we become so engrossed by these things?” Even most adults act as if they weren’t raised right. I believe this causes them to not be able to teach their own kids to do the right thing. The minds of our generation are changing. The good is bad, and the bad is good. I don’t know how that works, but everyone seems to be fine with it, as if it makes sense. 

Fighting, murdering and causing destruction are what’s considered to be fun. Well, not to me at least. Getting an education, being smart, wanting to stay home and be safe is considered bad and boring. You’re going to get called “loser” if that’s how you want to live your life. Sad, isn’t it?

And that’s where bullying comes in. Students often get bullied because of the way they carry themselves. “Poor” is what you are called if you don’t come to school every day looking like a supermodel. Ugly is what you are called if you don’t have a Coke bottle-shaped body. Dull is what you are if you can’t stay out all night at the age of 15 with friends.

I disagree with this. I’m only speaking from my experience in school and how I view my generation, so not everyone can relate to what I am saying.

Deahmi Mobley, a freshman at Central Catholic High School and one of the Pittsburgh ambassadors to the Do the Write Thing program. (Photo by Quinn Glabicki/PublicSource)

I often have low confidence because of my body type. “Fat” is something I get called every day. It’s not that I think being skinny is bad. But it makes me question myself and the self-love I seem to lack. Of course, I won’t go out and shoot up a school because of this, but some students might. So be careful what you say to people because you never know what they are going through.

We need to do better as a whole. Instead of putting others down, we should bring each other up. Instead of balling up a fist, hold someone’s hand. Instead of picking up a gun, pick up some books. And watch how society, and us as a community, change.

Any given day in the United States, you will find a news story about youth violence. Whether it is street violence, bullying or a school shooting, our country’s youth are plagued by violent behavior. The American Psychological Association defines youth violence as an extreme form of aggression with the goal of physical harm, injury or death. Examples of youth violence also include date rape, homicides and gang violence. 

For parents and educators of teens, it is important to recognize that these types of violent behaviors are prevalent. In fact, homicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 years old in the United States, and the most common cause for non-Hispanic Black youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC].

Do the Write Thing

Jaia Harrison and Deahmi Mobley participated last year in the national Do the Write Thing writing program, in which middle school students write about the causes and effects of youth violence. The students’ writings were read by Duquesne University School of Law students and local leaders. Deahmi and Jaia, now high school freshmen, were chosen as Pittsburgh’s ambassadors and traveled to Washington, D.C. Their essays have been modestly edited with their consent.

Consequently, parents and educators need to take an active part in preventing youth violence in the lives of teens. To do this, it’s important to understand what causes violence among teens.

Thousands of people experience youth violence every day. While the extent and types of youth violence vary across communities and demographic groups, violence negatively impacts youth in all communities — urban, suburban, rural and tribal. 

Youth violence is costly. Youth homicides and nonfatal physical assault-related injuries result in “an estimated $100 billion annually in costs including medical, lost work, and quality and value of life,” according to the CDC, not including costs associated with the criminal justice system. 

Adverse childhood experiences, like youth violence, are associated with negative health and well-being outcomes across the life course and disproportionately impact communities of color. Youth violence increases the risk for behavioral and mental health difficulties, including future violence perpetration and victimization, smoking, substance use, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, depression, academic difficulties, school dropout and suicide. Violence increases healthcare costs, decreases property value, negatively impacts school attendance, and access to community support services. 

Addressing the short- and long-term consequences of violence strains community resources and limits the resources that states and communities must have to address other needs.

When violence happens, it changes lives and when lives change, the environment changes, and when the environment changes, the community changes, and when your community and the world change, you must adapt and change with it. This is how violence affected my life.

Deahmi Mobley is a freshman at Central Catholic High School. If you want to reach Deahmi,  please email firstperson@publicsource.org.

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