By Anthony Alfaroe

Being a teenager, you see things most adults don’t realize are happening. Becoming a Junior this August, I’ve seen all that high school has to offer. Everything from teen pregnancy, gang violence, even drug abuse. When did it become cool to follow in the footsteps of criminals and be easily subdued to peer pressure? I’ve seen what people would do to just ‘fit in’.

Starting my sophomore year, I became friends with some of the incoming freshman. One of them seemed kind of out of place. Let’s call him “Terry” to protect his identity. Terry was a quiet, shy, smart individual that was Hispanic. He seemed to have a good future, but he was always obsessed with being in a gang for some reason. Over the next couple months he started wearing red and hanging with the much older junior/senior gang members. Soon he started acting out and getting into fights. He seemed to love the attention so much he put himself on the schools gang profile list. Not much after, the school made a paper trail on Terry and put him up for expulsion.

During the last two years of my life, I’ve noticed that a lot of the people I use to go to middle school with are already starting to have kids. I can count at least 15 female friends which I know of that have had a child or is currently pregnant. More startling is the number of male friends that have families of their own, most only being 16 years of age. The majority of teenagers I know admit to having unprotected sex, not knowing the greater impact that having a child can bring.

I’ve lost friends to drug related incidents. For the normal highschooler, drugs like marijuana, ecstasy, and pharmaceuticals pills are far too easy to obtain. Most transaction of drugs, from dealer to buyer, happens in class, right under the teacher noses. Knowing friends who take it up a notch with harder drugs is scary at times. A friend of mine has overdosed in class while snorting meth to keep awake. He made a full recovery, but still uses to this day and continues to dig a deeper hole into drug dependence.

Being a teenager now a days is rough, but doing things to make it worse is downright redundant. Simple peer pressure can be the down fall of many students. Even more so is drug abuse. We need to make a safer community, for us and the children who grow up in it.