L. Hearne: Reach out for at-risk youth

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This is a serious call to adults, from all walks of life and ages, who are able, stable and willing to mentor at-risk youth age 12 and older.

There are several Lewiston-Auburn nonprofits that mentor youth through education and work programs. Unfortunately, one significant program now cuts off mentoring at age 12. Many kids in the Lewiston-Auburn area lack even one positive adult in their lives to hang out, skateboard, shop, talk, go for a walk, bike ride, grab a bite to eat, listen to music, play basketball with, etc.

At-risk youth are becoming more desensitized to crime and detention. For some, structure is detention at Long Creek Youth Development Center.

Sadly, many youth have a legacy of components that enable truancy, learned helplessness, substance addiction and welfare dependency, leading to law-breaking behaviors.

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A few at-risk youth may have a teacher, or school resource officer to check in with, if they are lucky. It appears that the void of appropriate mentors for at-risk youth boils down to one harsh reality: No money or time.

When youth are detained, then incarcerated as adults, they fail to learn skills to earn a living. Our tax dollars pay for their living accommodations behind fences, bars and barbed wire.

It is a matter of pay now, or pay later.

I encourage local nonprofits to consider expanding services to at-risk youth. And ask all adults who have time to step up, reach out, organize and collaborate for at-risk youth in our community.

Laurie A. Hearne, Lewiston

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