I think we all probably know what youth violence is, or maybe we have experienced it at some point in our lives. Or are experiencing it now.
Hello, my name is Ma’Kylee Lott. I am a 13-year-old girl and in the eighth grade. I have experienced youth violence, and from that I am still recovering from the causes of it.
Youth violence has affected me because I used to be bullied. I used to get body shamed at school every day and from my family. In my home life, they used to tell me that I should stop eating as much and that I would get too fat and die. That really messed me up, and after that I had thoughts of taking my own life.
I would hardly eat. I would tell my parents that I ate even though I didn’t. I thought that if I didn’t eat that I would become skinnier and people would like me better, but that never happened. All it did was make me sick. So take it from me, don’t do that. You are amazing just the way you are.
People used to talk about the hair on my arms and how it was dark and that no one was going to like me if I looked like that, and I believed them. Every day I wear long-sleeve shirts or sweaters so no one can see my arms. Even the little things that people say can make a big difference in people’s lives like it did in mine.
A lot of people don’t realize that the things that they say and do in the past can affect the future of not only theirs but others around them.
A really big cause of youth violence can be alcohol use. Just like when my cousin’s parents were alcoholics and still are, they never realized what kind of effect that had on their kids. I would go get my little cousin every day from her mom’s house to “hang out” because she would never want to be around her mom because she would insult her for the way that she looked and dressed.
She would try to talk to her about the stuff that was happening at school and how she was being treated, but she would just tell her that she’s fine and that she was overreacting. She even tried to tell her mom that she was a part of the LGBTQ community. Something that was very important to her, and she told her that she wasn’t and that she will grow out of it.
My cousin was never treated the way that she deserved to be treated. Her mom was never there for her, and I know that she really needed her at times. Especially when she was getting bullied at school by other kids. And what even made it harder was that she was suicidal and was self-harming herself because of the things that she was going through and being told by her mom and peers. And her mom never knew since she was always drinking and never could comprehend what her own daughter was going through or even remember the things that she had said to her daughter.
That also made my cousin suffer from depression and anger issues. So when my cousin’s parents found out about her cutting and burning herself, they said that she was slow and stupid for doing that and that she was just doing it for attention. But the sad thing is that the only reason that they found out was because the school had realized that she was acting weird then saw the cutting marks on her arms. So they had to call her parents and tell them. Her parents also weren’t going to get her help, but the school made them take her to a therapist.
More effects and consequences of youth violence can be the increase of the risk for behavioral and mental health difficulties that may include future violence, smoking, substance use, obesity, high-risk of sexual behavior, depression, anxiety, academic difficulties, smoking and school dropouts.
There are some things that not only I can do but you can do to help reduce youth violence. For example, we can try to look out for signs of youth violence. Sometimes if you just pay attention to the things around you, you may see signs of youth violence. Like when my cousin’s school noticed her and got her help before it was too late.
We can also set a good example of how to treat people so others could see how to act and not contribute to youth violence.
And one last example of what we can do is if you see someone suffering from youth violence, you can just talk to them about what’s happening. Something that simple can make a big difference. By just letting that person know that you’re there for them can help them not feel alone and could help them to not hurt themselves. Even the smallest little things count.
In conclusion, that is my story of how youth violence had affected me and my loved ones. Now that you know what you can do to reduce youth violence, will you do what is right to help people? I hope this story helped you see how important youth violence really is. I encourage you to always do the right thing!
Ma’Kylee Lott attends Lima’s Liberty Arts Magnet. She was chosen as one of Lima’s two ambassadors sent to the national Do the Write Thing event this summer. Her column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.