Opinion

Community can help

community helps A recent letter writer states that "society" isn't to blame for a death caused by unsupervised, late-night partying. In my original letter to the editor (Valley View, March 18), I stated that although Nathan Lines had made the decisions which led up to his death, the "community" had failed him.
   By definition, "community," the word I used, extends beyond geographical parameters and includes a belief in and a commitment to the well-being of ALL of its members. I think that many in the Valley consider themselves members of such a "community" and do not see themselves as only residents.
   All psychologists, and most laymen, are aware that all learned behaviors can be modified, only personality disorders are resistant. Therefore, you can make a difference. People who understand this are aware that there is a necessity to mentor and be role models for all children, not just theirs.
   There are many in each community who do not have access to critical resources necessary to maintain a healthy family. There are many who have temporary special needs. We are not uneffected by conditions and the subsequent reactions of others. When one person or family is impacted, there is a ripple effect through the community. It is a societal truth.
   If you could talk to incarcerated youth in the institutions, it would become apparent how necessary it is for the community to help in filling needs that are unavailable elsewhere. There are such youth transitioning into your community from these institutions. How can you make this a positive transition?
   You can turn a blind eye and say this is not your problem, but as Seattle has learned, it will become your problem as more teens turn to alcohol, drugs, and violence. This isn't an isolated incident. There are youths manifesting antisocial behaviors and some with gang affiliations within the Valley. Saying that yours isn't involved isn't enough, as has been seen at Garfield and Ballard High Schools and the recent carjacking in Redmond. Violent acts affect everyone. Bullets hit the innocent.
   The best parenting, religious upbringing, and education in morals and values doesn't always override peer influence. In the teen years, this is the strongest affiliation. On any given weekend night, there are well-attended keggers in this valley attended by youths who do not have parental permission and are at a "football game" or a "friend's house" and these teens will drive home. You can be affected.
   It is necessary to become a member of the "community." Statistics indicate that prevention programs are significantly more effective than intervention programs.

J. Strong, Duvall