“I want to be a nurse. I’m going to be a fireman. I want to be a professional basketball player.” Ask elementary-age youth what they want to be when they grow up and they have quick and definite answers. They have hope and optimism for their future.
Ask middle school youth the same question and you may still hear similar answers, but you will also hear comments such as, “I don’t know” or “whatever”. Starting in the middle school years a sense of hopelessness, apathy and discouragement can set in with some youth. The clear vision they once had for their future is now blurry or completely gone. Research shows that kids who “don’t know” what they want in their future or “don’t care” anymore are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.
In last week’s masterclass, One Thing You Can Do to Instill Hope and Prevent Vaping, I introduced a prevention strategy called “Idealism.” This strategy has proven to keep kids from engaging in risky behaviors – including drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping, misusing opioids, fighting and being sexually active.