The scary truth about declining adolescent mental health
Teenage mental health has taken a major downfall over past years.
Pates' Post Editor
Teenagers throughout the United States are now more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than in past times, and also are not getting the correct diagnosis and care that is needed to keep these adolescents safe.
“Adolescence is, indeed, a time of transition and change, but severe, dramatic, or abrupt changes in behavior can be strong indicators of serious mental health issues,” said Healthychildren.org.
The pressure and problems that teenagers will face throughout these years, will become extremely overwhelming; which can raise concerns as to the child’s mental health and stability. The number of children that have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression has increased by 70% since the 1980’s.
“Mental illness does not appear to show signs just because something has happened to you. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain that someone can’t control. It really upsets me that people with mental illness at this young age feel like they should be ashamed because of it,” said Cassandra Walsh, Parkland junior.
Just because a child is going through a small bump in the road, does not mean that he/she is significantly depressed. If this behavior becomes a habit and begins to affect the normal activities or aspects of their lives, this may indicate that the child is battling the depression illness. Although most children do not go without being diagnosed, they do not receive the correct care to help them through their struggles.
“When I looked back on all that had happened, I could see that my son's spiral into dysfunction probably occurred over a period of about two years, plenty of time to get him help, if only someone had known that he needed help and known what to do,” said Sue Klebold, while discussing her story “My son was a columbine shooter. This is my story” during a TED talk.
Mental illness professionals will most of the time pass off an adolescent as what is called a “normal”. This means that the feelings that they are having are something called “normal emotional and psychological changes” that are happening as they grow.
A question that everyone has to be wondering is, what does a teenager with mental health issues experience? The truth is that what each child faces is something that no one would ever wish to experience themselves.
It feels like how someone would feel if they were drowning, except everyone around them can breathe underwater and themselves just have not figured it out yet. Anxiety and mental health issues in general is similar to the feeling of someone sitting on your chest when they are already struggling to breathe and keep calm.
“I get a little extra pissed when someone uses a mental illness issue at this age as an adjective. Everything that happens to you feels like it could be the one thing to push you over the edge, but you never really know when you’ll break. The worst possible scenario runs through my head all of the time even though I know it’s not reasonable. It’s just how my brain has been wired to work,” said Walsh.
“The challenge I have when I talk about my son's murder-suicide is that I'm talking about mental health — excuse me — is that I'm talking about mental health, or brain health, as I prefer to call it, because it's more concrete,” said Klebold.
The mental stability of teenagers has decreased and has began to lead them to higher chances of lying, stealing, or being disobedient. It is also shown by studies done by the American Psychological Association (APA) that boys typically have more behavioural problems, while girls have typically more emotional struggles. It is also stated that people who are diagnosed with mental health issues, have also cost the society more than 10 times the amount of people who are stable. This is because unstable people with have difficulties with their relationships, unstable employment positions, and potential involvement in crime.
“Past research also indicated that women report more frequent stressful life events than men do before the onset of a disorder, indicating that environmental stressors may also contribute to internalizing,” said the APA.
These teenagers battle many things whether it comes to their personal lives, or their performance at school. Sometimes, teens will have no idea since they are not making the connection between a disorder or something that just seems to be pulling away their focus. Some warning signs to keep an eye out for are things such as having an inability to concentrate, a lack of stamina, difficulties within their time management skills or multitasking, being unable to interact with other peers, or struggles when attempting to take constructive criticism.
Some young persons will most likely feel alone or feel like they do not fit in because they have “problems”. They will ultimately feel like they should just give up because nothing is worth trying.
“Let them know that they are not alone; nor are their anxieties unique,” said Healthychildren.org
Some other signs that a child or teen may have depression are irritability or anger, changes in appetite, changes in sleep, fatigue or low energy, vocal outbursts, and feelings of guilt.
“The cruel behavior that defined the end of his life showed me that he was a completely different person from the one I knew,” said Klebold.
Stacking the cups up for prom
Looking back on an important lesson as prom approaches
Assistant Entertainment Editor
As May approaches and the year is coming to an end, prom is knocking at our back doors. With women in beautiful dresses, men in tuxedos, and a dazzling new venue to kick off Freedom’s fiftieth anniversary, alcohol consumption is unfortunately going to be present in with the festivities of the night.
According to Huffingtonpost.com, an estimated eighty-eight thousand people who die from alcohol consumption each year.
With the consumption of alcohol also comes drunk driving. Just last year, Freedom High school's seniors and juniors took part in the Every Fifteen Minutes program.
Some individuals throughout the senior and junior class were picked specifically to play the role as being “dead”. The students would go to school like any other school day and every fifteen minutes, a man dressed up as the Grim Reaper showed up at a classroom and took away one of the students in the program.
The student would then reappear, with their face painted white like a ghost.
The student was then not allow to talk to anybody, answer any questions, or use any electronics for communication.
During the afternoon, the seniors and juniors at Freedom were taken to the back of the building where they witnessed a fake accident scene with firefighters, police, and even student actors.
The students acted out the crash and the police arrested the student who was assumed to be the drunk driver who caused the accident.
The program is to teach the kids involved and outside of the fake accident what happens when you drink and drive.
The student who was arrested was taken away and sentenced to years in prison for the deaths of the people in the accident. There then was a emotional assembly set up as a fake funeral and the seniors and juniors attended.
“We wrote letters to our parents and they wrote letters to us like we were gone, really gone. It was an emotional night, everybody was crying,” said Jonathan Smith.
Jonathan Smith took part in the program and learned a lot from his experience.
For those who were not in the program it was part of an outreach toward those individuals who believe drinking and driving is okay and to show them it is one hundred percent not okay at all.
On Huffingtonpost.com, it is estimated that 30 people die in the United States from motor related crashes from alcohol consumption. With the beautiful weather of spring hopefully to come, it causes a lot more underage drinkers to take risk.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which means it is a month that is focused on understanding alcoholism.
Students who begin drinking at young ages do not realize that they can place themselves into addiction or even serious health issues. As prom is quickly approaching, be cautious of the actions you take and know how valuable your life is.
Autism, the condition that is spreading around the world
Autism has become one of the most common mental disorders in this day and age, but only 30 years ago it was incredibly rare
As many people know, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, a day where people wear blue to spread awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more commonly known as Autism, an increasingly common disorder. But, if you really knew what Autism was like and its effects on the human mind and body, you may think differently about people who have this condition.
Autism is a disorder that causes difficulties with social interactions and verbal/ nonverbal interactions, and it is is usually discovered at birth. The number of confirmed cases has skyrocketed in recent years due to the fact that in the past, there were very specific guidelines to what Autism was and if the patient did not fit perfectly in those guidelines, they would not have been diagnosed with Autism.
Recently, Sesame Street has added a new muppet named “Julia” to their roster that has Autism. Julia has been with the Online Story book since 2015, but will now be joining the actual TV show.
Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer behind Julia actually has a son who also has been placed into the Autism spectrum. She wishes that Julia was around when her son was younger because it would allow people to see what he was like with a TV character before witnessing it first hand in the classroom environment.
Furthermore, Autism is four to fives more common in men than in women. An estimation from gospelmedium.com said that about 1 in 54 men in the United States have autism while about only 1 in 252 women in the United States have Autism.
“I googled ‘Autistic People are,’ and the top result was ‘Demons.’ That is the number one thing people think,” said Rosie King, a Autistic motivational speaker in an video on Ted.org.
Demons, this really shows how blissfully unaware our modern day generation is.
On a Ted talk, Steve Silberman explained about the hidden history of Autism and how they used to be considered a sign of terrible parenting. Since then it has been realized that this is obviously false and it is just a genetic disorder. That is really what people think about Autistic People?
“Autism would be met with shame in a community, and thought to be the result of bad parenting and treatment,” said Silberman; explaining about Autism affects on a family's image.
Faith Jegede, a sister too two nonverbal Autistic Brothers said that, “Brokenness is an opportunity for glorious light to shine through.”
“Acceptance starts within each of us. When you see that mom with a toddler screaming on a plane or in the store, it's easy to pass judgement. Remember that the child may have autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc. In those moments, offer a helping hand. Smile at the parent. Teach your family or your own children about accepting people of all abilities. I think it would make the world a much happier, accepting place,” said Mrs. Wieand, an English teacher at Freedom High School, who actually has a son who has been placed into the Autism Spectrum.
Mrs. Wieand believes that Sesame Street is really helping out this generation as she said, “Yes, I love this. I think that awareness starts in the home. By having kids exposed to children and characters of all abilities, this will help move from tolerance to acceptance.”
Brushing up on the #NoMakeup Movement
An unlikely beauty movement is becoming popular
Last year, there was a hashtag floating around on social media that had a hugeimpact on people’s self esteem. The “#NoMakeup” movement is an internet campaign that consisted of people posting pictures of themselves without any makeup on
The #NoMakeup movement started to encourage people to feel better about the way they looked at themselves. Makeup has always been used to enhance one’s beauty; however most feel as if makeup is unnecessary.
Embracing the natural appearance that everyone was born with is the main goal of the movement. Many people feel as if they are not attractive enough without makeup, so they wear it when it is most convenient for them. Some will even wear makeup all of the time.
“I think the no makeup movement is unnecessary because I think everyone looks great without makeup. To me, makeup is really unnecessary honestly. It covers up the beauty that is born with us.” said, David Balasz, junior.
According to the Renfrew Center Foundation, approximately 44 percent of women feel uncomfortable without makeup. Most women often depend on makeup to boost their self esteem, because they feel “naked” without it. The #NoMakeup movement encourages those to put the makeup brushes down and embrace the natural skin that they were born with.
“My opinion on women posting pictures with no makeup on [is that it] is a great way to show how much you love your natural features.” said, Tiara King, sophomore.
People often view the #NoMakeup challenge as unnecessary because people don’t have to be insecure to wear makeup. Some women just wear makeup for fun, or because it is what they do for a living.
“I think that it’s a good thing because it helps people feel better about themselves. I don’t wear makeup so I think it's good for my self-esteem.” said, Hailey Atiyeh, senior.
Celebrities, such as singer Alicia Keys, have taken heed to the internet movement to empower women about their appearance. Taking on the challenge herself, Keys recently stopped wearing makeup in hopes of feeling more confident about herself. Keys explained that by doing the challenge, she felt more powerful within herself.
“I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt,” said, Keys about the bare face movement.
Because of this challenge, more people are feeling comfortable about the way they look. Instead of using makeup to cover up flaws, more people are embracing them because that is what makes them who they are. Being comfortable in the natural skin that one is born in is one of the greatest attributes of life.
Appreciating teachers in high school
A focus on Teacher Appreciation Week
The week of May 1-5 is Teacher Appreciation Week, where society shows its thanks and gratitude for its educators. That isawesome. Teachers should be put on a pedestal receiving praise; however, in some schools, they are not.
In elementary school, on every holiday and special day, such as the first and last days of the school year, young students showered their teachers with gifts and cards. It was the norm. Whether prompted by one’s self, or one’s parents, it was still a decent way to show thanks towards teachers.
In middle school, the gift-giving and praise-receiving died down just a bit, but was still prevalent amongst upstanding students and their educators.
In high school, the praise and admiration of teachers suddenly came to a complete stop. Now, students were ridiculing or avoiding their teachers as much as possible. All but the exception of a few, students stopped showering their teachers with signs of gratitude.
One might ask, “Well, why is this?”
“This was hard for me at first, but I’ve come to realize that teens, for me, just took a bit of getting used to. The love of learning I value so much is there, it’s just disguised behind the huge driving force to be socially correct in front of peers at all times,” said Melissa Purtee, a teacher, in an online blog on www.theartofed.com.
Peer pressure. That is why. Teens are so wrapped up into what others think of them, that they disregard simple things in life, like giving thanks to those that help them. If a teen student is seen giving gifts and showing gratitude towards a teacher, they are considered a “kiss-up.” Of course, being seen as such is simply not socially acceptable in the high school realm.
Long gone are the days of simply showing appreciation towards teachers. Teens have stopped caring about their relationships with their teachers; they disregard how important those adults are on one’s life and education.
“In loco parentis.” This is Latin for, “in the place of a parent,” which refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. These are exactly the rights afforded to the educators who the teens of today are neglecting to appreciate.
If one would appreciate their parents, then why can one not simply appreciate their teachers in a similar capacity?
Let’s remember that on average, by calculating the length of a 7 hour school day, multiplied by the school year length of 180 days, students spend about 1,260 hours with their teachers. That is a lot of time spent with somebody that students often forget, or neglect to show gratitude towards.
“I would say it’s different. But I don’t see it as a lack of appreciation, it’s just different for each grade level. It’s less of a celebration and more of a mature ‘thank you,’” said Mrs. Donna Roman, Freedom High School social studies department chair and teacher, when asked whether or not she saw a difference in the way teachers were treated by grade level.
According to an article by U.S. News, one way to solve this problem is through simple verbal encouragement; saying things like, ‘Thank you,' 'You are valuable' and a friendly 'Keep up the good work’ to teachers.
So this year, not just during Teacher Appreciation Week, but year-round, remember to show appreciation towards the people that are educating the engineers, government leaders, doctors, and business leaders of tomorrow.
Students, parents, and community members of all ages, step up. Step up and display affection to the often-times ignored educators. They deserve praise.
Concealing the infection
STD disclosure unnecessary in many states
Imagine going to a party. A cute boy/girl is sitting by themselves. Approaching, nerves start to set in. The conversation becomes more interesting and laughs are echoing the room. Suddenly, it becomes more intimate. The next week is a annual doctor checkup. The doctor comes back with a pamphlet saying “When you have a Sexual Transmitted Disease (STD)” Confusion and anger take over. Thoughts appear, it was only one time, it was only with one person.
There are many STD infections that exist. Some are worse than others. The medical and health fields are so much more advanced than back in the day, but every medicine in the world may not help everyone.
According to Lawyers.com, there are no federal laws making it illegal for you not tell a partner about an STD you may have.
There are many different types of sexual transmitted diseases. They vary with their effect on people, for example a person can not die from a case of herpes. Yes, it is an infection, but he or she is able to get medical help.
HIV or AIDS can ruin a person's resistance to infection. Both of these viruses are in a person's body forever. Some ask themselves what is the difference of these infections. They also feel that it is not murder not telling them you have an STD.
“ One has to consider if a person can be charged and convicted of murder since no one has died from HIV. They have died from AIDS-related illnesses that were the result of having HIV, but not that infection itself.” said Mr.Michael Cleffi, health teacher.
Each state’s STD laws are different. If a person tells their partner about the infection, and the partner consents, the consequence is less serious. In other states, the law does not state that you have to tell a partner. However they have the full right to sue. It would not be necessary to tell a person about a past infection. If the infection is well taken care of one should not be obligated to tell your partner.
“Telling someone that you have an STD should be mandatory. If you knowingly and purposely transmit an STD it should be a criminal punishment.” Mr Bryan Callahan, health teacher.
Throughout the world, people would think that theory is unfair. However certain STD’s are not as serious as others. Usually being told that you have an STD is scary. Most people do not think to hear the whole story, or in some cases just skip over the word “had”.
Why would an individual have to go through that drama if they are cured? The mind goes straight to the thought of catching that infection. What people do not understand is that there are many classifications of the disease, and for the most part the infection will not be deadly.
However, in the cases where the infection puts someone at risk, they should be warned. It really all depends on what kind of STD it is. Being warned about an STD is the best thing. Before or even after intercourse. This gives the partner time to go get checked out by a doctor and receive help if needed.
Most people have to put themselves in the position of the individual who has been affected. Being told that the body has an STD infection can freak a person out. Most do not think of this when they are being quiet about it. All they do is think about themselves and sexual activity. Admit that you have an infection. It is an infection, people usually cringe at the word. However the most important part is to think of everyone in the situation.
Evaluating society’s view on women
How this generation is taking a stance on complex issues
When it comes to how society views women, it can be the small things that make a large impact. Women are seen much differently than men are, and are held to completely different standards in almost every aspect of life.
Every generation has had different perspectives on women, and this generation of women has taken a stance against things such as gender roles, wage gaps, standards, and much more. This year, women around the globe marched to campaign how they felt about society’s standards. Some of Freedom High School’s own students participated in the Women's March on Washington D.C. “It was a great and empowering experience,” said Cara Dellapa, sophomore.
Things like marching for women's rights are what make this generation different from past generations. Gender roles and stereotyping are ideas this generation has seemed to take a strong stance on. People advocate for equal treatment between genders; spreading awareness that everybody should be treated equally, regardless of gender or sex.
Most girls grow up learning what is not “ladylike,” and what society frowns upon them doing. Some examples would be the way a girl sits or talks, what sports she chooses to play, and career aspirations she might have.
“Children were taught at a young age [about] gender roles, including girls being seen as weak or unable to do as many things as men. On the flip side, men can be discriminated against too,” said Lauren Pontoriero, sophomore
Girls being seen as weaker than men can be seen in the famous saying, “you throw like a girl.” Those few words that seem insignificant can actually show how society stereotypes girls. Sayings like that seem to be said less and less as years pass by, especially because of how many people are standing against this type of stereotyping.
Although many women are still campaigning for completely fair treatment, looking back, the evolution of society's view on women is amazing. It has come so far. In history, women were not allowed to vote, but now some of the most successful people in the world are women, like Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Adele, and many more.
Serving the community, 356 hours at a time
Meet Jose Cuadrado, The Freedom Forum’s April Student of the Month.
Struggling to complete your 60 hours of community service? Jose Cuadrado, sophomore, already has five times the required number of hours necessary for graduation. His motivation is simple.
“I just like doing community service,” said Cuadrado.
Since the 1990’s, the amount of high schools mandating community service has grown exponentially, with the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) implementing the requirement in April of 1990. The objectives of the new program were: (1) students will understand their responsibilities as citizens dealing with community issues; (2) students will know that their concern about people and events in the community can have positive effects; (3) students will develop pride in assisting others; and (4) students will provide services to the community without receiving pay.
Interestingly, the decision by then-superintendent, Thomas Dolusio, was met with some controversy; two sets of parents of two Liberty High School students, Lynn Ann Steirer and David Stephen Moralis, took the BASD to court, alleging the new requirement violated their children’s First, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The BASD argued that “the education of the Nation’s youth is primarily the responsibility of parents, teachers, and local and state school officials, and not of federal judges,” citing 1988 court case Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier, and won the case.
Since the ruling in 1992, students attending Freedom or Liberty have participated in countless altruistic endeavors, including volunteering with organizations like Boy Scouts of America (BSA), St Luke’s Hospital, and Red Cross.
Cuadrado volunteers with the Bethlehem Housing Authority. According to their website, the authority is “committed to providing a community environment that ultimately promotes self-sufficiency”. The mission aligns with course objective (2): “students will know that their concern about people and events in the community can have positive effects”, as volunteers work to promote self-reliance through their service.
Currently, he has 356 total hours of community service, an incredible accomplishment for a sophomore.
“I help kids with their homework, and pass out their snacks. Sometimes I play with them, so they won’t be bored,” said Cuadrado.
Not only does Cuadrado enjoy helping others, but he also recognizes how his work now might benefit his education in the future. He hopes to attain the silver cord, a recognition given at graduation for logging 135 or more total hours, as well as scholarships for college.
“I want to work with technology, I like using computers and help[ing to] fix them,” said Cuadrado.
He advises students to start early instead of waiting until the last minute to complete the requirement.
When performing service for others, it is important to realize the impact it really has on their lives. Oftentimes, the love expressed through service is enough thanks for volunteers.
“Some people appreciate it, and they’re thankful, that someone is at least trying to help them,” said Cuadrado.
Rader's rant: stick 'em up
A look into the recent fights occurring at the Freedom High School fountain.
The Freedom Forum
Over the past couple months, many of your fellow peers or even you have been throwing the hands. Maybe some of you have not heard and are not up to date with the 4-1-1, but there has been one too many fights that have occurred here at Freedom.
Trust me when a fight breaks out we all want to see it, myself included. I know that sounds terrible, but c’mon admit it. You go on Twitter or text one of your friends asking if they have a video of the fight making sure you get your share. Fights are all fun and games until you are the one getting beat up and dealing with the consequences.
I do not know if you recall, but one week in March there were multiple fights that occurred. Many of my fellow peers and friends called that week, “Fight week.” The famous fountain was basically a boxing ring where the throw-downs happened. It was almost like Jerry Springer, but Freedom High School edition.
The whole Freedom High School had to have an assembly in order for our administrators to tell us that we need to stop fighting. If this does not get the message across and into your minds about fight week needing to come to an end, then I do not know what will.
Honey, you are not going to end up on World Star if that is the reason you are fighting. If that is the case then you need to re-evaluate your goals in life because in my opinion, that is not only stupid, but unnecessary.
Let us be real though for one second. What good comes from fighting? “Oh wow, you are so cool you beat them up!” Or “you got beat up...awkward.” Either way, you end up with a suspension and a flaw on your transcript. For real, fighting gets you nowhere… wait maybe a black eye.
Listen up, I get it you have beef, but what is the point of bringing it to school and fighting? The fight is gonna get broken up by one of our staff members at Freedom so you should just do it in your local park. If I recall, a few of our teachers were injured during one of the fights. Our teachers come here to teach, not to be a bouncer at a nightclub and break up your petty little fights where you get no decent hits in.
Hopefully this article does not fire up Fight Club: Round Two. *ding ding* Also, hopefully this does not give you the impression to keep throwing the hands. Go to school, get an education, and get over your problems; or go to school, get in trouble, and go to jail. Sorry administrators and staff for the poor actions from some of those who I attend school with.
P.S. Please just grow up, you come to school to get an education not to fight the girl who stole your man. Remember children, violence is not the answer. Stay chillin’ and peace out till next year.
Dear Gabi: Second is not the best
Balancing life and school
In every possible area of my life, my success and achievements are not good enough. While I’m throwing a party because I got a B- on my last Chem test, my friend is disappointed that she only pulled an A instead of an A+. I barely made it on the JV team in my sport, but my best friend is on varsity as a sophomore. I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get my 60 hours of community service done in the next two years for graduation and she’s already surpassed the requirement for a silver cord. I babysit two kids from my church for $12 an hour, but my best friend watches her neighbors kids for free. I literally can’t win. At anything. I know everyone always says “life is not a competition” but I think it’s naive for someone to think that he or she is not competing with everyone around them. However, the only thing worse that being in this endless competition is losing. Do you have any tricks for how I could possibly be better in at least one area?
Second is the not the best
Dear Second is not the best,
You may be a little annoyed at my saying this, but life is not always a competition. It is very, very easy to get sucked into this desire to surpass the achievements of others, however, that is not what living life is all about. During my sophomore year of high school, I signed up to take AP US History. It was paired with Honors English 10, every other day. Neither of the two classes were easy; each class period presented a new academic challenge, and that’s what drew me to them to begin with. When I first started APUSH, my main concern when we got a test or assignment back was finding out what everyone else got. I wanted to assess my abilities by sizing myself up against the other smart and talented kids in my class. Can you believe that? I was trying to base my abilities off of a test score from my first AP class. I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self that this notion was ridiculous. Every single kid in that class was interesting and unique and possessed a plethora of different skills and talents. There is no one scale in the world that anyone could possibly use to measure who is better or more talented. Every individual is great and not so great at so many different things that it is impossible to make these assumptions. I once heard this expression that goes something along the lines of, “every person should strive to be better than the person they were yesterday.” You should not spend one more minute comparing yourself to your best friend. Love him or her for being talented and achieving great things, but also love yourself and the things you have achieved. You may not have 135 hours of community service or grades as high as you may have hoped, but there are other important aspects of life. Focus your life on how kind you are to others, how you impact other lives and how you strive to be the best person you can.
The Freedom Forum is an award-winning high school publication at Freedom High School in the Bethlehem Area School District in Pennsylvania. The organization publishes approximately 8 issues per school year and reports on local, as well as world, events.