Deciding on teen motherhood, withstanding insults from the community

By the time Summer Culbreth discovered she was pregnant, she was four months along. Though she initially wanted an abortion – feeling too young and unprepared to raise a kid – she came around to keeping the baby. But the tumultuous period didn’t end there: when she told peers about her pregnancy, their judgmental reactions were a rude awakening. “After seeing such controversy over the years on the subject of abortion, I soon realized how many hypocrites live in this world. It doesn’t make sense to me that we can live in a society that criticizes abortions yet shuns and shames teenage parents.” Read her story on Voicewaves.

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Understanding the difference between love and pain

A video showing NFL player Ray Rice violently punching his fiancé captured the news media, as did the scandal around the League’s lenient and ambiguous reaction to his crime. But despite exhaustive news coverage, clear messages about domestic violence are hard to come by. Victims often stay with their abusers, and authorities keep a distance, citing “private matters.” A complicated reality is obscured by the stark video: the violence runs deeper than flesh, and abusers take aim at their partners’ self-esteem. For young people without experience in a healthy relationship, abuse from a romantic partner can disguise the difference between what love feels like, and what hurt feels like. “I was young and in love. I never left, even after being put in the hospital, because I thought that was what love was. My boyfriend would promise to change and never hurt me again, while also saying that even if I left, no one would want me.” Elizabeth Mutate recalls the moment when she knew she had to leave an abusive boyfriend, on Youth Radio.

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Could teen moms benefit from doulas?

Long Beach resident Elizabeth Thai became a doula to help young mothers like herself – having given birth twice as a teenager with minimal resources and knowledge, she could have benefitted from supportive care. “I serve the mother by giving her unbiased information, providing her with the pros and cons of her options. We’re not there to tell [mothers] what to do but if they are confident with their choice then that’s the best thing that we can [provide for] them.” Read the whole story on Voicewaves.

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Deferred but still in limbo

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals granted young immigrants who met specific criteria the chance to apply for a temporary license to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation.“My mom cried. She told me how proud she was that I was now an ‘American;’ that I finally belonged in the country.” Two California youth talk about their DACA stories, on Richmond Pulse.

Efforts bring new playground to Lamont Park

District Supervisor Leticia Perez, the host of an event to celebrate Lamont Park’s new playground, said the renovations were made in response to concerns she heard from the community. Private donors and a grant from Kaboom!, a national organization devoted to to remedying a “play deficit” among urban children, made the project possible. “We’ve been meeting with residents here at the library and what we’ve been hearing time and time again is that the park has been taken over by a criminal element; older men who come and play poker, drink beer, and make the environment uninviting for families. Parks should be places where families and children feel safe, places you can even send your kid from across the street to play at the park.” Read more on South Kern Sol.

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Rethinking our drinks at school

Rethink Your Drink is a public health initiative, led by the California Department of Public Health, to encourage healthy drink choices among low-income Californians, educate people about which drinks have added sugar, and to make known the links between consuming sugar-sweetened drinks and health problems. “After resisting temptation all day on my day off yesterday, I was able to make it through the entire school day on Tuesday without having an urge to drink any sugary beverages. Maybe, that is because sugary beverages of any kind are not allowed in classrooms.” Youth reporters talk about the unexpected challenge of avoiding sugary drinks all day at school, on Coachella Unincorporated.

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Not just a veterans’ problem: PTSD strikes children

Anyone can develop a disabling reaction to trauma. Far from being exclusive to military veterans, children and teens exposed to traumatic events early in their lives are at high risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Boyle Heights youth David Torres became homeless when he was 12 years old. “Some people it affects a lot stronger, and they end up hurting themselves by doing stuff they shouldn’t do. So it’s always good to look out for help just so they can see how they can get over it.” Read a detailed story on Boyle Heights Beat.

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What does it mean to be a feminist?

Bianca Brooks has grappled with the meaning of feminism in high school. She heard some teachers disparage housewives (and Beyónce!) labeled de facto non-feminists. But she kept working to find the definition that worked for her. “My favorite teacher later said to me, ‘Feminism is essentially about dignity.’ She explained that being a strong woman isn’t enough. I must also empower other women to be themselves–without judgement.” Listen to her commentary on Youth Radio.

Richmond’s beauty

How much does your immediate environment affect your experience? Cityscapes in Richmond vary, from the waters of the marina to the train tracks to the Ohlone trail; all places where residents can escape. “When I’m in a beautiful place I feel good. You don’t have to worry about your struggles… You feel good about yourself, and you feel good about what’s going on around you.” Richmond residents talk about the most beautiful spots in the city, and what those places do for them, in a video from the RYSE center.

In diverse classrooms, does teacher’s background matter?

Fresno Unified School District recently hired a white teacher to teach cultural studies courses at the new Gaston Middle School in Southwest Fresno. Some community leaders expressed outrage over the decision and asked the district to hire a person of color. The Know’s youth reporters spoke with teachers at Fresno High about their experience teaching students of various ethnic backgrounds and asked them: Is it easier to relate to students of the same background? “To me, it doesn’t matter but I can tell it matters to students because they talk about other teachers or other classes they have. Since African-American students can relate to me a little more, there are certain things I can tell them or ways I can approach them that other people wouldn’t feel comfortable with.” Read more responses on The Know.

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