Combating drug use and bullying among youth

February 10, 2012 Denise Romano
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Drug use among young people in southwest Brooklyn is a growingcause for concern, with recent fatal overdoses among area teenssending shockwaves throughout the community.

We are losing young lives for no reason and we must stand upagainst the drugs that are destroying our families and do somethingabout it, State Senator Marty Golden told this paper.Prescription drug use and abuse is on the rise in New York State.The effects of oxycontin and party drugs are destroying familiesand we must be vigilant so to prevent losing any more of ourteenagers to drugs.

To that end, Golden is holding a town hall meeting at I.S. 201,8012 12th Avenue, on February 15 at 7 p.m. to discuss drug use aswell as another major issue of concern, bullying.

Golden is not alone in his quest or in his efforts to helpinform parents to help prevent similar incidents in the future.Aziza Hussein – who hopes to start an organization that would workto improve relations between Arab parents and their children –thinks that closing the cultural divide between Arab parents andtheir American-born children could help solve the problem and wantsto start an organization that will do just that.

A lot of young Arab men in the area of Bay Ridge get lost inthe street. They join gang groups, smoke and use drugs, Hussein,who works at the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, explained. We nevergrew up like this; we don’t know what it’s like.

Reverend Khader El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Lutheran Church, saidit is a challenge for the whole community. Families are trying tointegrate into the larger community and our young people are facinglots of challenges, he said. [Due to] the lack of language skillsof parents, they don’t understand peer pressure and don’t know howto fight or recognize signs if their kids are addicted tosubstances.

He added that he tries to educate parents in his parish aboutsigns of drug abuse and provide help. We do not understand whatthese kids go through on a daily basis, he said, noting that ifHussein can get this organization off the ground, it would bephenomenal and he and his church would support any way theycould.

Hussein, who was born in Egypt, is already in touch with NYPDMuslim Community Liaison Detective Ahmed Nasser, who, she said, isgoing to help arrange a meeting between Arabic parents and theirchildren.

That’s our generation and they are our future, Hussein said,noting an intense rivalry between Arab and Mexican youth gangs inthe area.

Her son, Ahmed Hussein, 26, was born in the U.S. and works withthe Muslim American Society. He is also on board. It’s a matter ofhelping the community close the gap between the youth that arebeing brought up in a way that they weren’t, he explained. It’sgetting the parents to understand what it’s like to be anadolescent in America today. They are not able to communicate withtheir kids and the needs of their kids.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile supports the idea. I think thisorganization will become a very important one. They are inspired bya vision of a society where young people have a powerful voice, andthe knowledge and resources to effectively use it to create changein their own lives and realize their full potential as productive,responsible, and caring citizens, he said. Through culturalcommunication and mentorship, they will ensure that young adultsand their elders become more mindful of their similarities thantheir differences, thereby fostering harmony, understanding andrespect.

Hussein also wants to start a dialogue between youth of allcultures in the community. Any community we live in, we are a partof, she said. We want to reach young Arabic children andcoordinate them into a young Arabic organization where they canstay inside, have a library and do sports stuff. They will alsolearn how to engage between Arabic and American culture.

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