“No,” said 82% of students surveyed at Great Falls Middle and Turners Falls High Schools on an anonymous national survey in early 2015. (Read more about the survey below.)
Research* shows that when young people feel supported by their neighbors (and other adults), they do better in school, are more likely to graduate and less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and reduce their risk of being involved in violence or crime.
So this is an area where our community clearly has some room for improvement, but it’s also a situation that’s not difficult to change. You, on your own, can make a real difference!
Challenge yourself to get to know young people in your neighborhood. Pay attention to their accomplishments – large and small. Then, let them know you noticed!
The “My neighbors notice…” statement is from the Prevention Needs Assessment, or PNA, a survey that measures the presence of “risk and protective factors” – things that have been shown to influence the likelihood of academic success, school dropout, substance abuse, violence, and delinquency among youth. Young people across the United States take it each year. In our region, 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students from nine school districts complete the PNA on a 3-year cycle**. The most recent results are from 2015.
It’s important to keep in mind that there is a distinction between whether youth are supported in our community (which they are, in many ways!) and whether they feel supported. The PNA asks teens to report on what they think and how they feel, which is not necessarily the same as what is true. The 82% of students who responded “no” to the “My neighbors notice…” statement don’t know what their neighbors know about them, because their neighbors didn’t tell them. Let’s change that!
Here are three examples of local adults celebrating youth that we noticed recently on Facebook:
- Anne Jemas commented on and shared a freestyle hip hop dance video made by Tieray Moore
- Chief Chip Dodge often congratulates students who make Honor Roll at local schools on the Montague Police Department’s Facebook page
- The Friends of the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter used its Facebook page to thank Catherine Bezio for a generous gift
*For more information about risk and protective factors, see Channing Bete Company and the Social Development Strategy.
**For more information about the Prevention Needs Assessment, including 2015 results from Franklin County, see Communities that Care Coalition Surveys.