Let's Not Make Excuses For Teenagers

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It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it happens, but it happens to all of us. We age and we forget what it was like to be a teenager.

We graduate from high school and move on to college or a career. We struggle at first and then settle into regular paychecks, mortgages and car payments. We rut our way into weekend grocery routines and we don't even hear ourselves the first time we say, "Teenagers these days just don't have a good work ethic" or "Kids these days don't know how to entertain themselves."

Those comments always come with a creaking sound -- the sound of dry, brittle wood that is set in its ways. It's the sound of a hinge on a closing mind.

As we put together this edition of the Payson Roundup, we noticed the number of stories we had about our local teenagers doing small but significant things to make our town a better place.

On the front page, there is a story about Michael Daniels, a National Merit Scholarship finalist, whose intelligent mind and big dreams for the future make him someone for the hometown to watch.

In the Sports section, there is the story about Payson High School senior Brandon Buckner who has garnered the admiration of his peers and teachers by his character -- he has integrity, doesn't complain and isn't afraid to do the dirty work for his team.

And on Page 10A there's a story about three members of the PHS Future Business Leaders of America who took an assignment to create a Web site and turned it into an out-of-classroom learning experience about the town council election.

Meanwhile, the police record is full of the kind of news that usually gets our local teenagers on the front page. One week ago, 11 teenagers were arrested for underage consumption of alcohol. This weekend two more teens were arrested on the same charge.

Those are the teens who cause us to click our tongues and shake our heads, and, all too often, those are the teens we choose to remember as we make the case for our generation vs. the current batch of youth.

In the small town of Payson, it takes creativity and motivation to stay entertained as a teenager. There are no under-18 music venues or teen clubs. The options for the high school set are not as obvious as they might be in an urban area, but we believe that should not be used as an excuse for illegal behavior.

We have heard, "There's just not anything for teenagers to do in Payson" too many times as a way to explain away alcohol consumption, vandalism and teenager pregnancy. That kind of thinking from adults or teens shows a lack of imagination, and is nothing more than an easy way to ignore the real issues.

The teens we see in today's Roundup should be held up as an example for the role our younger community members can play in this town.

Young people, just like adults, can be as busy in Payson as they want to be. Beyond the extracurricular activities provided by the school, there are countless volunteer opportunities. It is our role as adults to not make excuses for teens, but to teach them the joy that can come from getting involved in our community. It is a lesson they will bring back to us later as leaders or take with them elsewhere as ambassadors for the kind of citizen that we raise here in Payson.

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