Teen “Sexting” is illegal BUT we promote it on the radio

Sexting has become more and more common among our youth.  They think that sending a nude or semi nude photo of themselves to one person will stay with that one person and don’t realize the risk of it being sent out to others. The first time I realized the seriousness of sexting was when I saw a case being featured on the Today Show. An 18 year old girl sent a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend. Once they broke up, that photo was sent out to everyone at her school. She was humiliated and bullied for a year before she ended up committing suicide. Our legal system is really trying to crack down on this. If you are a minor (18 years or younger), creating, transmitting, and even possessing a nude, seminude, or sexually explicit image of yourself can be considered child pornography. It can be prosecuted as a state or federal felony and can even lead to having to register as a sex offender. While I do agree there should be legal consequences,  I’m unsure if it should be filed as child pornography. Our youth does need to understand that sexting is unacceptable behavior and there are laws in place to protect them.  In spite of all our work trying to stop sexting, we allow a song like “LOL, Smiley Face” on the radio for our youth to listen to. Here’s a snapshot of the lyrics (click here for all the lyrics):

I Love Fisher Price

See now my shorty text me, send your boy a smiley face.

Gucci-Mane X-Rated, we could make a sex tape

Pics on my iPhone, Gucci on her iPod

When she turn around, *** make you say, oh God

Am I the only one that seems something wrong with this?

Google recognizes a San Antonio 6th grader

I am sure everyone has already heard about this but I had to post about it because I just think it’s so cool. Google runs a contest called “Doodle 4 Google.” It’s a competition that invites K-12 grade students to reinvent Google’s homepage logo around a preselected theme.

Doodle 4 Google is a competition where we invite K-12 students to reinvent Google’s homepage logo. Both our country and our world are undergoing significant change and this year we invited students to doodle around the theme “What I Wish for the World”. At Google we believe in thinking big, and dreaming big, and we can’t think of anything more important than encouraging students to do the same.

And the winner? Christin Engelberth, a 6th grader from Bernard A. Harris Jr High School right here in San Antonio Texas. She titled her’s a “A New Beginning”:

My doodle, “A new beginning,” expresses my wish that in the current crisis discoveries will be made. That in these discoveries solutions will be found to help the Earth prosper once more. That those solutions will help the world get back on its feet, and create a better place for everyone.

The logo is being displayed today on Google’s homepage where millions of visitors come from all over the world. Christin will receive a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop, and a $25,000 technology grant for her school.

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She has been featured on many news websites including CNN:

A panel of independent judges and Google employees, along with close to 6 million online voters, disagreed, and chose her sketch as the overall winner from a field of over 28,000 other submissions.

Good job Christin! Way to represent San Antonio, your school and most importantly, yourself. This is awesome news and news we need to hear about more often. There are kids doing wonderful things out there and they need to be recognized.

I applaud Google for developing a program that recognizes our youth for their talent and creativity. We need more companies to be doing things like this. We also need to encourage our youth to search for competitions, programs and contests that challenge them to use their brains.

I am going to print this story and take it my class at Garner middle school, where I am a Junior Achievement volunteer. I want our kids to know that there are programs out there where they can get recognized for their talents. I hope this story will inspire them.

Teaching students the basics of Entrepreneurship through Junior Achievement

I am a Junior Achievement (JA) volunteer and I started this semester’s program 3 weeks ago.

JA Worldwide is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.

I was a Program Assistant for PREP (PreFreshman Engineering Program) back in 2001 and this was when I discovered my passion to inspire our youth. When I started working at Rackspace back in 2003, I was introduced to Junior Achievement. I love Junior Achievement because it allows me to take business practices from my work life and share it with students. Students are learning their basics in school – which is needed – but they need to understand how it pertains to the real world.

As members of this community, I feel that it is our responsibility to inspire our youth. We can’t leave it up to only our teachers. I know that I would have never gotten to where I am at today without certain individuals inspiring me throughout my childhood and young adulthood. I am still being inspired, not only by accomplished individuals but from our youth. I learn so much from the students I teach.

This semester, I am working with middle school students.  It’s something about this age group that I feel like I can connect to the most, more so than elementary or high school.

The topic for this semester is Entrepreneurship. Yay! My favorite!

The first day I met  with the students, I was so nervous! I got all these butterflies in my stomach. I kept thinking “will they like me?” “will they listen to what I have to say?” “do they care?”  I had done this before but when you meet a new set of students, it’s like going in for an interview.

No matter what, I had to come in very confident. They needed to know that I knew what the heck I was talking about. I am already young so sometimes I may not be taken seriously.

I first had to introduce myself and let everyone know what I did for a living. We were going to go over the basics of Entrepreneurship. Then we were going to play a game, structured like Jeopardy, where I gave them hints of CEO’s and/or companies and they had to guess the name.

I had a very energetic group of kids. It took them a while to settle down. I introduced myself and explained what I did. I educated them a little about the Internet. As soon as I mentioned YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, their attention level went straight to 100%. These were things they knew about and could relate to. I talked about the founders of these companies and how they had a vision. They loved it!

Phew! I was in. We went on to play our game and not only did they learn but I actually learned about CEO’s I didn’t know of before.

Last week, they had an exercise to develop a blueprint of their Teen Club. This was essentially teaching them how to build a business and think of ways that they would sell it – who would come and how much it would be. They designed their entire Teen Club.

This past week, they created slogans and commercials for a  preselected product. These were products that were unheard of and weren’t necessarily real. The products we used were spray on pantyhose, an alarm watch that only woke you up when it sensed you had enough sleep and then programmable paints for your home. All were real products except the programmable paint (which makes me think…).

They were so creative! They came up with slogans and even promotions. They are very smart kids. I hope they remember the lessons we are learning:

  1. Fill a Need
  2. Know your Product and Customer
  3. Be Creative and Innovative
  4. Believe in Yourself

(Sometimes real world businesses need to be reminded of these basics.)

More updates to come as we continue our sessions.

Opening the doors for our Youth

I read a great article by Cary Clack in the MySA Life section of the Express News today. Cary Clack spent a day with various groups of sophomores at Sam Houston high school. The negative perception that these teenagers felt they had from the outside was disheartening.

The two most frequent responses were, “low performing” and “ghetto” as in “that it’s a ghetto school.” Other responses included, “that we’re all thugs,” “we’re not going to amount to anything” and “we’re poor.”

Clack goes onto say that some blame the school for providing them with this negative image due to bad academic performances that have been highlighted in the media. However, most of these students believe that they do possess a power within themselves to do something positive to change their image. But they need someone to listen. It’s not only the responsibility of their parents and teachers but it’s also a responsibility of the community. This is so important to recognize.

Many times our youth don’t see the doors of opportunity. They might come from a broken home, parents work too much, or maybe they don’t even have a place called home. How can they reach for the stars if they can’t see the stars? We can’t always leave it up to teachers either. We know they are overworked and underpaid. It’s our (the community’s) responsibility as well.

My uncle is a basketball coach at Jefferson High School. He has been coaching there for almost 20 years. One tradition that he does every year (and has done so for the past few years) is enter his team into a basketball tournament in the Washington DC area. He holds fundraisers to cover the accomodation and transportaion costs. He takes them not because of basketball, but to show them our nation’s capitol. Many of these kids have never been outside of San Antonio or even stayed in a hotel before. They are given this golden opportunity to see something real, not just in the paper or on the radio. We can continue to say oh yes, you can be a lawyer, doctor, politician but when they see these opportunities visually, it becomes more real for them. It gives them that hope that we want our youth to embrace.

Did you see President Obama’s address yesterday? At the very end of his speech, he recognized a very special girl, Ty’Sheoma Bethea. Bethea is a young girl from a school in South Carolina that President Obama went to visit.

a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless

She took it upon herself to go to the public library and write a letter to the White House and even asked her teacher to pay for the stamp.

“We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world.  We are not quitters.”

President Obama invited her to the capitol to sit in on his address. I saw this girl sitting right next to First Lady Michelle Obama. What a strong, courageous girl. It’s one thing to get our youth to speak up, another thing to get people to listen and yet another to get people to act upon it.

The last portion of Clack’s article mentions that Sam Houston High School will be receiving love from the God Parents Youth Organization (G.Y.O.). This organization was started by a Los Angeles school bus driver, Tanya Walters, in 2005.

She realized that she and her fellow drivers had formed bonds with the teenagers that they drove to and from school every day, and that they could be used to change lives. The route they have driven since starting G.Y.O. has covered thousands of miles and opened hundreds of young eyes to a world that exists beyond some of the toughest streets of Los Angeles. A world many of these kids never new existed. A world many of them never dreamed of seeing.

This program sponsors children that are in schools that are suffering, such as Sam Houston High School, and takes them to places that they never dreamed of ever going: Historical landmarks, college campuses, museums and memorials. Again, it’s giving our youth something tangible to see so their hopes become real.

As I write this, I think about what can I do? I am always intrigued to help our youth, teach them, inspire them. It’s a matter of finding the time and the right organization. I have officially signed up with Junior Achievement and will be teaching middle school students the fundamentals of starting their own business. I can’t wait! I did Junior Achievement 3 years ago and I had such a blast. Our youth can also inspire you.

I will keep you posted on my experiences.

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