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What's Going On Here

By: Cass Kanevil

Date Posted: 1999-12-10

Last week, we published a letter written by Melissa N. Zeman, opinionated teenager (see Japan Update Vol. 12, No. 48 of Dec. 2-8). I absolutely love it. Here we go, people! A teenager who gives a damn about what adults think of her generation, she's sticking up for herself and the rest of the baby-sitters on island. I couldn't be prouder. She has voiced her opinion strongly and respectfully. However, where are the rest of you teenage baby-sitters out there? You must have an opinion, too - don't you?

Speak out. Don't be afraid to voice your opinions. I have no doubt that Melissa is an outstanding baby-sitter, and wherever she lives, I bet her community feels lucky to have her around. Let's see more of this from teenagers. The most that I hear from the teenagers here is talk, talk, talk about sex, sex, sex.

I pulled bus monitor for a few days on a Kubasaki High School bus. I was privileged to hear stories of how girls won't date boys unless they know that they are "well endowed" and boys talking about girls’ chests - too small or too big. Whether or not one girl should go out with "Charles" because she's afraid he's still a virgin. Then I hear about smoking. "My dad almost saw my cigarettes and lighter in my underwear drawer!"

I'm not judging these kids because I remember the days not so long ago when I was one of them, but my point is that I'm glad that:

1. A teenager actually picked up the newspaper for more than swatting flies.

2. She read, found interest in, and had strong emotions about, what was said about her peers.

3. She felt strong enough to know that her opinion matters.

4. Teenagers growing up in the military community do think about things other than sex and rebelliousness.

To Melissa’s parents, I say "Thank You" for the self-confidence and other positive values you've instilled in your daughter. Wish there were many, many more like you.

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