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From AJR,   December 1999  issue

“Inside the Adult Brain”   


By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

The avalanche of media stories about teens and youth violence after the school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, ignited impassioned responses from young people. LA Youth, a newspaper by and about teens, aptly turned the tables, calling its September-October cover story "Inside the adult brain; Why adults think teens are scary and evil." Three young reporters critiqued press behavior:

"Both Newsweek and '60 Minutes' are also talking to teens and showing America our moral side. Devon Adams, a 17-year-old friend of Dylan Klebold [one of the Columbine killers], wrote an article for an August issue of Newsweek entitled 'Mourn for the Killers Too.'.. The fact that a mainstream, nationally distributed magazine would allow a teenager to write an article is impressive."
--Michelle Goodman, 17, a student at the University of California at Los Angeles

"When a teenager commits a terrible crime, the media connects the crime with the teen's age. They make it sound like all teens are like that. But when an adult commits a horrible crime, the media doesn't try to make it sound like all adults are demented killers....
"After the shooting at the Jewish Community Center, none of the media pointed out what kind of music the gunman listened to or what kind of video games he played. Nor did the media ask these questions about the Atlanta man who killed his wife, children and people who worked at his office."
--Gohar Galyan, 18, a student at Marshall High School in Los Angeles

"By seizing on one or two gory stories, the media has ignored the facts. The reality is that teens are committing less crime. The really scary ones are the adults--the parents who harm their children, the media which play on everyone's fears, whipping up emotions against teenagers, and the politicians who slap unfair restrictions on teens so that adults will re-elect them."
--Sarah Gustafson, 16, a student at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles

The LA Youth reporters took Newsweek's May 10 cover story, "The Secret Life of Teens," to task for portraying all teens as disturbed. Life magazine's March issue, "The Secret Lives of Teens," received praise for its positive images of teens but criticism for being unrealistic. The August 9 U.S. News & World Report cover story, "Inside the Teen Brain," described a teenager as "a groaning lump that can scarcely be roused for school." Reporter Gohar Galyan commented, "A lump? Sounds like something you put in the oven for dinner."