Teens change, given a chance

By Edwin Desamour, The Philadelphia Inquirer


I pick up a call on the hotline. It’s one of several services the organization I cofounded provides for at-risk youths in my Philadelphia neighborhood. The kid on the other end of the of the line sounds scared. He’s trying to be macho, projecting anger, but he’s coming across as unsure. Most of all, he sounds young.

“I’m thinking about doing something,” he says. “These guys at school, they keep on jumping me. I may have to deal with it. I may have to bring my gun tomorrow.”

“OK,” I say. “Let’s think this through. You bring the gun to school. Let’s talk about the rest of your day. What happens? Do you go to school and everything is the same? Do you ride the bus home later? Are you sitting on the couch with your little brother in the late afternoon, watching cartoons, eating cereal, joking?


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