Teach Youth: Adversity is Your Teacher

Would life change for children if they were taught to rely on their inner wisdom to overcome adversity? Would human behavior be different if young people understood they are born with a strong and resilient spirit with the ability to develop self-confidence to be free from bullies and controlling people? Would we still have an epidemic of drug abuse and homeless citizens flooding our streets? Would anger and violence continue to create chaos in our homes and neighborhoods?

The movie Lion” is a true story about a five-year-old boy who was lost in India. He tried to find help. A couple seemed compassionate and fed him. He instinctively knew they would harm him, and he ran away. How did he know he had to escape? He was only five years old.

Every living person, young or old, has inner wisdom! However, we must trust ourselves to rely on our instincts and intuition. Birds are protected by their instincts and fly south for the winter. Animals herd together for protection from predators. Why would human beings be less self-aware?

As a crime and violence prevention specialist, I heard, “I didn’t feel safe walking into the elevator with that man.” She was raped. “It didn’t feel right letting that man into my house to use the phone.” He was attacked and robbed. An abused woman said, “I ignored my instincts and thought I could help him.”

Safety is an inner journey! If we teach youth to listen and trust their “gut” (intuition), they can discern the difference between responsible or self-serving individuals and what is right or wrong.

Prayer or meditation helps us listen to our inner “safety guide” and see others through enlightened “eyes.”

I was abandoned in Mexico City at age 15 and didn’t speak the language. My mother was forced to return because I was at death’s door. After I recuperated, I saw her through “new” eyes. I wasn’t angry because I knew she couldn’t change. She was a victim of her boyfriend. I decided to become independent and never lived with them again.  

When we encourage youth to listen to their “gut” and rely on their instincts, they gain self-confidence and will not become victims.

Everyone can take charge of their future and learn valuable lessons from adversity. We cannot change other people, but we can change how we react and stay safe. When we take charge of our destiny and become independent, we can protect ourselves and learn adversity is our teacher!


Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie Mann co-authored, Alternative to Fear: Guidelines to Safer Neighborhoods,” which helped launch the national “Neighborhood Watch” Program. Within 2 1/2 years, involved residents in her community (17,500 residents) decreased crime 48%, WITHOUT a local police department. Mann worked as a community leader, neighborhood organizer, county coordinator, state consultant and authored, “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live” (Nolo Press 1993) In 2010, while working in Richmond CA, with “Mother’s Against Senseless Killings,” Mann saw people too scared to be involved or report crimes. She wrote, “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook,” with an easy-to-follow guide for existing groups and “My first steps to a safe neighborhood” for citizens. These booklets give individuals and groups the tools to reach out and bring people together to help each other. Stephanie started a homeless men’s support group while working with “The Mary Ann Wright Foundation” in Oakland CA. She recognized the need to support children at an early age and wrote, “Street Safe Kids: 10 Step Guide for Teens and Adults” (which has been used in after-school programs) to help youth grow strong from within to develop self-esteem and stay centered. Book available on The Safe Kids Now National website states, “Every child needs a healthy family and neighborhood to stay safe.” In partnership with the CARR Foundation, a binder, “Safe Neighborhoods: Access to a Healthy Community,” was created for city leaders to make neighborhoods safer for families and neighborhoods. Stephanie’s books strengthen families and can decrease the social isolation that fuels bullies, domestic violence, abuse, drugs, gangs, and other destructive behaviors.”

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