As a so-called former “teen at-risk,” I’ve wanted to write this letter for a long time, so here it is. I am hoping that Matzav readers will understand my important point.
We all read articles and hear speeches about why kids go off the derech or do things that go against the way they were brought up. You’ll hear terms like abuse, lack of love, poor academic skills and the like.
In my eyes, this is all hogwash. The reason I and many others went off is simply because the things we began doing were more exciting and fun. That’s it. The world out there looks enticing. Freedom beckons. We give in to our urges and we are pulled away from Torah life.
Some of us, like myself, end up getting it out of our system and realize that while it may be fun and entertaining, it doesn’t have any long-term substance. So someone like myself came back and settled down. I worked through my issues. I’m getting there.
But my point here is this: The reason teens go off is because it is easy, and fun, and hard to resist the temptations of the world. Let us stop blaming parents and schools and rabbeim and teachers for the at-risk epidemic. It is not their fault and never was their fault. We live in an in-your-face society that throws the colorful enticements of the world at a teen. When you line up a life of school, and learning, and a seemingly dry life of living a certain way against the flash and glitz and fun of the immoral world out there, a teen will often take the easy road. It’s as simple as that.
Matzav readers, it is about time that this elementary truth be understood and accepted.