Saturday, November 26, 2005

Do young people matter?

Do young people matter? Are they worth fighting for? Do they need fighting for?

These are good questions that can best be answered by realizing that the predatorial forces in the world are saying yes to all three. The child abusers, drug dealers, sexual predators, pimps, child pornographers, gangs and even other young people looking to use someone to feel better all have focused their attention on young people.

Why? Because they can and because it pays off so handsomely.

Young people are beautiful, fresh, full of life, gifted, fun and, above all, moldable. They are also less jaded, more niave and considerably more trusting. In a way they are like diamonds laying out on a front lawn...incredibly valuable and amazingly reachable. This spells danger.

A child abuser looking for an innocent to crush can take five steps out of his building to find one. A drug dealer looking for new blood has only to rent a hotel room, fill it with drugs and walk into the downtown area of any major city to invite dozens of youth. Two days and a massive drug binge later, the dealer has a whole new crew of addicts/workers who need more drugs and will do whatever he wants them to do to get them. A sexual predator can walk to the nearest playground and say a few nice words to a little girl or boy playing alone before inviting them back to his apartment for "candy."

A pimp can walk up to a beautiful young girl, seduce her, deflower her and then draw her into a life of drugs and sex for hire to deaden the pain and support the habit. Child pornographers can build relationships with any of the above young people, already damaged by someone before and lead them blindly into letting themselves be photographed. Gang members, in cultures where they represent power, protection and belonging, can easily recruit solitary young boys who are tired of being scared and alone, humiliated and weak. In the gang, they are offered the strength of community, mentoring and functioning in the power of a collective. They find shallow versions of loyalty, sacrifice and love easy bait when they have never tasted anything deeper. Young girls find themselves easily drawn into being the "property" of something so strong and so powerful.

Finally, young people themselves remain the most powerful predators of each other. The innocent girl growing up in the U.S. has quite a fight on her hands to be able to resist the way Hollywood spells out the journey of life. Her friends, most of whose parents are taken away by their work and their own conflicted lives, rally around TV shows and movies that paint a romantic version of love that involves life as a waiting game for the special boy who will show up and fall in love with her, overcome some singular adversity and then live happily ever after. The blogs, chat rooms, magazines and lunch room messages reinforce it all daily. When a boy who could possibly qualify shows up, driven by hormonal urges that she can satiate, it is hard to say no. All that is left is to negotiate how quickly to consumate her initiation into movie-like love. Sadly, it doesn't feel right. He doesn't act right. It doesn't go right. Even if she escapes the first "miss" without being pregnant, the next try and the next try and the next try come with increased risk to STD's, abusive relationships and pain. By the time she is ready for an actual relationship, much of her has been destroyed. Her "near misses" have left her missing.

Young people are being fought for and won every second of every minute of every hour. Seduction, addiction, devastation and elimination are the constant flow through the large majority of youth populations across the world. And as they are damaged, so is the future of each community, city, nation and the world. Disease, danger, high-risk behaviors and damaged, unfortunate outcomes are the constant result.

Who will fight for them for their good? For all of our good? Who will love them in order to add instead of seducing them in order to take? Who will bring them life, better life instead of deception and death?

Will it be you? Will it be us? Can we rebuild the mechanisms necessary to help them? Gardens of love like families, neighborhoods, churches, schools, communities that provide an atmosphere of protection, education, equipping, care and then releases them into their dreams? Every seed sown, every stalk watered will one day blossom into fields of flowers covering the landscapes of our world.

They are worth it. The future is worth it. It's time to fight.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." Martin Luther King Jr., Accepting Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1964

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Young People Are Dying


Imagine a country decimated by the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world (costing the country at least $7 billion annually). Where more than five million high school age young people binge drink at least once a month. Where 53% of twelfth graders report having used an illicit drug in their lifetime. Where 17.4% of students reported carrying a gun to school in 2001. Where an average of 14 young people are murdered each day. Where a young person commits suicide every 15 minutes. Where 11 million young women and men report struggling with eating disorders. Where one of every 3 girls has had sex by age 16 and 2 out of 3 by age 18. Two of 3 boys have had sex by age 18. Imagine a country where young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are contracting HIV at the rate of 2 per hour.

The country you are imagining is the United States of America. Regardless of all of the horrific issues facing young people in Latin America, Africa and across the world, we must realize that the United States remains one of the most destructive places in the world to grow up. Something must be done. Please help us.

boy with a ball is a non-profit organization that works in teams to dynamically impact young people in cities across the world through:
• reaching young people in their neighborhoods
• equipping them to grow into leaders
• building communities of and around them
• releasing them to improve the world

You can help boy with a ball help young people today by getting involved.

Please become a regular visitor and participant in this website and spend some time checking out our website at

Together we can build a future for our communities and nations by equipping young people to listen and lead, live and love. There is no fight more worthy of living for. There is no fight more worthy of dying for.

Come fight with us.

Jamie Johnson
executive director

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)