ARTESIA — “So many young people deal with identity crises.”
Those words were spoken Thursday by Jerry Jamieson, the youth pastor of Harvest Fellowship Church in Artesia.
Jamieson was part of a panel that took questions from an audience of parents and children at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center on a wide range of issues affecting the young people of Artesia these days.
Regarding the youth of today, he said, “They get to a place ‘What am I going to be?’ ‘Who am I going to be?’ and ‘How am I going to treat people?’ ‘What am I going to do?’
The Speak Out Challenge was presented by the Changing Lives Coalition. The panel discussion came after a skit that showed grieving parents dealing with the loss of kids from suicide and other peer pressures.
Along with Jamieson, the panel had representatives from the Artesia Public Schools, Artesia Police Department, Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Presbyterian Health Services.
Toward the end of the program, Jamieson expanded on the identity crisis that teens are facing today.
“They’re at this place where there’s like so many different things coming at them, there’s an identity crisis and they just might be lashing out at all these different things just trying to figure everything out,” he said.
He said this issue isn’t new, “This started a long time ago and has been passed down through the ages.”
Jamieson added that day after day, he has dealt with kids in Artesia that are hurting.
“They’re frustrated they’ve got so much pain and so much agony in their life. There’s kids that walk into school, and they’re bombarded from the second they walk into the school to the second they walk out of the school,” he said.
Jamieson said that kids today are being told different things by various people and the main message is, “Don’t worry about yourself. You be you, you do you.”
“But the thing is, there are so many people in this world, the people sitting in this room, every student in this room; if you stand up and you say ‘Man, this person that has been saying this to me, you’re not showing weakness,’” he added.
Jamieson said people are actually showing strength.
“You’re showing strength by saying, ‘I’m having a problem,’ you’re not showing weakness. Don’t ever let anybody tell you, you’re showing weakness, you’re showing strength,” he said.
“Believe that and understand that,” Jamieson added.
Jamieson also stated that a person’s identity is not found in other people, “you’re identity is found in yourself and what God thinks about you and what God sees in you. He sees the greatness on the other side of the storm.”
Jessica Caballero is a prevention specialist with Changing Lives Coalition and said the program gave kids a choice in how to deal with bullying, suicide, drugs and alcohol.
She said those in her organization deal with those things every day in kids of all ages.
“It’s a lot worse than people think,” she said of the situation in Artesia.
Caballero also echoed the words of the panelists.
“We just want to challenge everyone to speak out and lead, to speak out in comfort, to speak out in confusion (and) just to speak out and be heard,” she said.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.