M A RCH EDI TI ON
THE SCOPE M A GA Z I NE Edi ted By Nei l Pati l
I N THI S I SSUE Mental Disorders Among the Youth of the United States: Increasing or Diagnosed Differently? -Jacobus Barnard When Will the Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong End? -Akash Anand Clean Energy: To Fund or Not To Fund, That Is The Question -Drake Du Come Hell or High Water: The Venezuelan Crisis -Audrey Kamena Why Syria Matters More Than You Think -Juliette Reyes Can the U.S. Agree on the Paris Agreement? -Kevin Zhou The United States and Taiwan: An Impossible Relationship -Isaac Kan "Where's The Button For Democracy?" -Charlie Gu Clogging the School to Prison Pipeline & Reconnecting Youth -Michael Bendok
M ENTA L DI SORDERS A M ONG THE YOUTH OF THE UNI TED STA TES: I NCREA SI NG OR DI A GNOSED DI FFERENTLY? Mental health has become a prevalent topic of discourse in today?s society with words such as ?depression,??stress,?and ?anxiety?mentioned everywhere. They are heard within the halls of every school, spoken by news broadcasters on television, and even debated within government chambers. As a young student myself, I can concur that mental health is on everyone?s minds and has become a defining point of recent generations. Is mental illness in American youth actually increasing or have diagnosis guidelines simply changed? In answering this, one needs to consider how society has changed over the years, both medically and socially, and how American trends compare globally. In researching and observing the developing world, I believe that the number of young Americans affected by mental illnesses is definitely increasing. The numbers are rising. ?Depression diagnoses are increasing significantly as data demonstrates that since the 1990s, there has been a five-to six-fold increase in the number of American children being prescribed antidepressant drugs?(Stolzer). This is clear cut; more kids today are diagnosed as mentally ill and are receiving treatment for it. Since there has also been no drastic population increase since that stated time, the change must be coming from the world and people itself. This is true. The way people interact and spend their time has completely changed with the introduction of technology. Social media and online platforms put the younger generation in a position of endless interconnectedness with one another. All this does is give teenagers more reasons to be at odds with themselves. In adolescence, many are still building their self-esteem and confidence, yet the use of the internet inhibits this growth. It allows for an almost constant state of social comparison. Researchers have found
that ?using social media obsessively causes more than just anxiety and feelings of inadequacy? others can feel jealous, depressed, or may even feel suicidal about their own life if it is not as ?perfect?as those they see?(Fader). The youth of today are put in a precarious situation. Technology, the greatest advancement of their time is turning against them, creating more problems than solving them. It is important to take notice of other variables that could disprove the negative effects of technology. This is why the levels of mental disease between other developed countries is considered, as it questions the uniqueness of America?s increasing numbers. For developed countries within Europe, ?Each year, approximately 38% of the total European population suffers from at least one mental disorder?(Stolzer) and ?In the United States, almost 46.4 percent of people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime?(Kapil). These are some extraordinary numbers, not just in how many people are affected, but also in how close they are. Both of these regions consist of the developed infrastructures, schools, and a modern development of technology. With many of the conditions being the same, the numbers indicate that mental illness truly has been on the increase due to societal advancements. Even if the statistics are increasing, considering how they are generated questions the validity of the argument. This question takes into account the uncertainty and legitimacy of past diagnoses. Since 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordershas served as a baseline for many psychologists, establishing a criteria for mental illness diagnoses in America. Sixty years later, the latest edition has been updated with over 500 more diagnostic categories, with many of the originals being reclassified or even removed (Blashfield, Keeley and Flanagan). Diagnosis criteria have indeed changed, with diseases either getting more detailed criteria or added, as demonstrated with the difference in textbook editions. This refutes the argument for increasing mental illness as today?s methods and standards have evolved along with the increase. Despite the history of a changing, often improper outline of diagnoses, the current death toll gives truth to what is really happening. There is a mental health crisis. Between 2001 and 2017,
?The total suicide rate increased 31% from 10.7 to 14.0 per 100,000?(The National Institute of Mental Health). The numbers show that diagnosed or not, the increase in suicide rate over time is a direct result of increases in mental illness. In accordance with the other arguments supporting increased levels of mental health, social and global comparisons also showcase how the world, and the people in it, are changing. This supported claim holds true not just because of evidence and data, but because of its actuality. As a high school student, I see the movement of stress and anxiety every day. I see it in my classmates, teammates, and friends, who worry over grades, college applications, and suffer resultant sleep deprivation from long hours of work. In my opinion, mental illness has increased and it is all because of changing environments and social pressures.
WHEN WI LL THE PRO-DEM OCRA CY PROTESTS I N HONG K ONG END? Through true will, there is a purpose. And it is this purpose that propels people to instill change. However, when violence and bloodshed is an outcome of pursuing a purpose, there is nothing other than the continuity of this practice. Pro-democracy protesters sought to bolster democratic reform, but when ambition and will get out of hand, catastrophe is the only conclusion. And this is the reality that protesters face in Hong Kong. Giving up their lives to instill change and sacrificing everything to achieve democracy for the future. However, while the fight for democracy continues, when will the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong end? On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government deployed troops to station in Hong Kong to end the protests for democracy once and for all. And while there is nothing more rewarding for protesters in Hong Kong than finally witnessing the nation being affiliated with democracy, we are hit with waves of conflicting views in the 21st century. Through these views, we see true ambition, however for protesters in Hong Kong, democracy is a mere pipe dream. While the Chinese government wishes to deplete democracy, protesters in Hong Kong know that fighting is there last hope. Tanks roll over bodies without consideration and those bodies being carried out to hospitals while protesters plead for the Chinese military to surrender. And still today, the fight for democracy continues to ravage Hong Kong. These protesters risked everything for the success of their nation, however what they received in return will stay with the minds of the people of Hong Kong until the end of time itself. And it?s because the fight for democracy is a never ending battle between the government of Hong Kong and it?s people, that makes this issue so imperative to people all across the globe. Hong Kong?s issue only expands through international appeal. On October 15, 2019, The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 passed the House of Representatives before moving to discussion in The Senate. Although the United States has a will to instill a change for democracy in Hong Kong and to voice their support for pro-democracy protesters, Chinese officials believe the exact opposite. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang publicly stated, ?With regards to the incorrect decision by the United States, China must take strong countermeasures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security, and developmental interests.?With the people of Hong Kong continuing to fearmonger China as the largest threat when it comes to fighting for their beliefs. When the international security of the United States is at halt, we see nothing between international tensions. In this case, China abuses their power and directly coincides with the peoples?attempt to enforce democracy. If the United States continues to voice their support for pro-democracy in Hong Kong, the direct effort to do so could drive China to deploy troops in Hong Kong to deplete protesters. The United States?s intervention in Hong Kong could be the primary cause to a repeat of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Although, the United States has the right intention into putting their effort for the development of Hong Kong, the costs outweigh the benefits. The only end to the fighting is when democracy is attained. Currently hundreds of thousands of protesters fill the streets carrying posters that write ?Free Hong Kong Democracy Now.?These vibrant red posters occupy the hands of the thousands of people who voice their view and plead for change. Today, Democracy is not achieved through simple instinct, but rather through constant bloodshed and violence. And it seems that currently those who truly believe in the prosperity of democracy will not be putting their posters down until democracy is accomplished. The people of Hong Kong simply want change, however Chinese officials are being blindsided by communism. If China, simply did not believe in the ways of communism, there wouldn?t be an issue. However China seems to be blindsided by the definition of unity and there is no nation without unity, which is what China fails to take into consideration. Until the protesters put down their posters when democracy is finally achieved, the fighting in Hong Kong will remain constant.
CLEA N ENERGY: TO FUND OR NOT TO FUND, THA T I S THE QUESTI ON Fighting change should not be the intention of the United States government. As temperatures continue to rise, our environment continues to degrade. This alone indicates the importance of acting now, and that?s where the government needs to step in by subsidizing renewable energy. The first thing we need to understand is that government funding is an investment, not a fee, and these investments have returns. If the government funds renewable energy, it will boost clean renewable energy and yield massive returns. First and foremost, funding research and development in renewable energy leads to innovation, which helps businesses and consumers move towards usage of renewable energy. As the technology improves and becomes more cost-effective, it?s more likely that people will start using it. This is where the benefits start rolling in. Because funding renewable energy leads to its eventual adoption, it decreases carbon emissions in the long run, and that?s what saves the environment. Not only does subsidization save the environment, it helps to strengthen the economy. A study from Nature estimates that increased usage of renewable energy could add $20 trillion to global GDP by 2100. In the immediate future, it also creates jobs in both the research and construction sectors. Funding necessitates people to do research and to build the systems that have been developed. Lastly, the adoption of renewable energy also helps to combat fossil fuel usage. Not only does this equalize the market playing field between fossil fuels, which have been heavily subsidized for decades, and renewables, it helps to decrease foreign oil dependency in the United States. This shields consumers from the effects of price fluctuations that occur within other countries. A 2017 article from the Union of Concerned Scientists explains that in the status quo, there are 5 main barriers to the adoption of renewable energy. Government subsidization of renewable energy can solve each and every one of these. The first barrier is the capital cost of renewable energy. Building infrastructure and constructing systems for renewable energy is costly, but government funding helps alleviate the costs in two ways. First, by bolstering innovation, funding helps decrease the cost of technology by making it more efficient. This helps to decrease the cost of building renewable energy systems. Secondly, government subsidies can be used to offset construction costs, reducing the burden on companies and consumers when they start using renewable energy. The second barrier is the decentralization of renewable energy systems. Wind and solar power are generated by small generating stations that work together over a large area. This necessitates more transmission infrastructure - power lines to bring energy from isolated plants to urban areas. Funding renewable energy helps to develop better transmission technology and kickstarts construction. The third and fourth barriers are market entry and the unequal playing field between fossil fuels and renewable energy, which are related to each other. Again, funding helps solve these barriers in two ways. By spurring innovation and making renewables more cost-effective, it helps encourage consumers and corporations to adopt renewable energy and thus helps alleviate the difficult market entry for renewables. Secondly, directly subsidizing renewables puts them on an equal playing field with fossil fuels, which have been subsidized by the government for decades. This stops fossil fuels from getting an unfair advantage over renewables in the energy market. The last barrier is misconceptions about the reliability of renewable energy. The unreliability of renewables, based on their dependence on variable factors, is touted by opponents of clean energy as a major disadvantage. Creating better technology through funding renewables dissolves these misconceptions. When more efficient and reliable systems are created, there?s nothing left for critics of renewable energy to attack. We call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave, but if we don?t do green, we?re not going to have a home left.
COM E HELL OR HI GH WA TER: THE V ENEZ UELA N CRI SI S In a time when the social climate in America is so strained, it is often hard to remember how fortunate we are. Yes, flawed as it is, America provides its citizens with fresh water, services for the poor, education, and other services. Citizens in Venezuela, however, are denied antibiotics, soap, food, toilet paper, water, and so much more. How did Venezuela, at one point the world?s fourth-wealthiest country per capita, now have store shelves swathed in dust and rivers swollen with dark sludge? Amidst the power outages and attacks on journalists, what can we attribute to the fall of Venezuela? The switch was flipped in the last quarter of 2009. Oil exports, previously stable under President Hugo Chavez, plummeted by 5.8%. The value of the bolivar, Venezuela?s currency, was dropped by President Chavez in 2010. Inflation has risen so high that, as stated by Market Insider, ?inflation in Venezuela may reach ten million percent?. The average monthly salary, recently upped to 18 thousand bolivars a month, isn?t even enough to buy a roll of toilet paper, which costs 2.6 million bolivars. The economic collapse wasn?t led to by the oil being spent. Venezuela still has the world?s number one supply of untapped oil. Money should be flooding in. However, President Chavez?s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, increased domestic spending after the oil price collapse. Maduro was dubbed ?Chavez, without the charisma?. While Chavez was hailed as a champion of the poor, Maduro failed to keep up the faรงade. Independent businesses have faced hostility from Maduro?s government. The government seized farms, claiming them as public property, and subsequently abandoned them, leading to full economic dependence on oil. Starting in 2010, opposition of President Chavez began to rise. After his death, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, led to a phenomenon dubbed ?The Maduro Diet.?And no, this isn?t some fad diet such as those propreited by
Instagram influencers in America. The Maduro Diet refers to the extreme measures taken by Venezuelans to feed themselves, including eating wild fruits, animals, and garbage. The average Venezuelan has lost 26 pounds in 2018 alone. According to CNN, 90% of all Venezuelans live in poverty, and a record-breaking 25% are unemployed. Venezuela ?ships in food primarily from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico because the government stopped cultivating its rich farmland years ago.?Medical shortages run rampant as well. Malaria cases have reached over 240,000 annually. The mass exodus from Venezuela, called a ?brain drain?, is exactly that. Those who have stable, necessary professions, such as doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, and professors have left the country in the thousands, leaving only those who cannot afford to leave behind. It?s clear that action must be taken. But when Maduro has condemned America and overspending is omnipresent, it?s hard to imagine how we can help. However, Venezuela has another alternative: Juan Guaidรณ. America has already voiced its support for the opposition party leader. Now, we have to guide Venezuela away from the all-too likely fate of civil war and towards negotiations. With opposition to the Maduro regime at an all-time high, the time to step in is now.
WHY SYRI A M A TTERS M ORE THA N YOU THI NK While Russia focuses more on naval expansion and market access, Iran is mainly focused on its regional flexibility. The Political Science Quarterly explains the theory behind this in their Spring 2019 volume. They go on how due to Iran's "Strategic isolation," permanently being barricaded by all of its rivals (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, etc.), they are more inclined to exert a show of force in their foreign policy rather than deal with a strong foundation for their domestic politics. Such desperate tactics come with considerable risk, and what better pay off could a victory in Syria be. Let's say, Iran won the jackpot and additional chips in the poker game that is JCPOA negotiations. Here are the reasons why. Chip one, arm trading networks. As part of its foreign policy doctrine, Iran utilizes various terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to exert influence abroad. However, when it comes to giving arms and weaponry to said groups, the task becomes a little more complicated. Due to the US' previous presence in Syria, our forces would block off groups such as Hezbollah from receiving Iranian arms within the region; as a result, they would often have to go through more strenuous routes, where the margin of error was highest. Nevertheless, now that the US has pulled out of the region, these routes are now open for business because Syria has reclaimed autonomy and couldn't care less what Iran does, so long as the people don't revolt against Assad. Which leads to the second chip, local political control. Sounds weird, but ironically it's Iran's ace as of now. During the height of the Syrian Civil War, Iran assisted Assad by providing him militias to operate within local provinces and exert both physical and political control. These groups, separate from Hezbollah and Hamas, are directly apart of the Iranian State. They are known as, The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC for short. According to the Institute for the Study of War, "Iran is also assisting pro-government shabiha militias, partly to hedge against Assad's fall or the contraction of the regime into Damascus and a coastal Alawite enclave. These militias will become even more dependent on Tehran in such a scenario, allowing Iran to maintain some ability to operate in and project force from Syria.?As a result of Syria's dependency on the IRGC to project influence, the US pullout of Syria allows Iran ample opportunity to seize more significant sums of power. Even potentially, let's say, forming political coalitions and lobbies within Syria. While the initial impact of such action would provoke regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the more immediate and fatal effects would be an increase of leverage for Iran. Why is this bad? Well, for starters, the US is already losing significant amounts of pull with Iran as a result of our recent pullout from the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA). Moreover, with increased hostilities within the Gaza Strip, a prominent trading and geostrategic area, the US and Iran are closing in on each other. Thus, the US needs to regain face and get
back on with negotiations. Unfortunately, our pullout in Syria does the exact opposite, projecting ourselves as uninterested in Middle Eastern Affairs and incapable of making any tangible change, eliminating Iranian negotiations as a future possibility. But alas, while the US pullout from Syria has resulted in such things as well as the release of thousands of ISIS fighters, the worst has yet to be addressed-the Kurds. The Kurdish People, a distinct ethnic group, spread across the Middle East, have been at war for decades. Whether it be a political shoot out with the Iranian Government to have a say in politics or at literal war with Turkey to defend their land, to say things have been rough is a gross understatement. And sadly, the US' pullout just made things worse. Let's backtrack for some context. When the Syrian Civil War commenced, and the US decided to engage, US military officials sought out the Kurdish Rebels to assist them in taking down Assad. Naturally, a majority of the Kurds agreed, on the condition that the US would offer them protection against Turkey-a neighboring state that is against the Kurds' very existence. For nearly eight years, the US' fruitful relationship with the Kurdish Rebels has flourished, with only a handful of upsets. However, due to the US deciding to pull out of Syria, the Kurdish Rebels no longer have the military and tangible political support from the US (because again, them pulling out diminishes their influence). The effects of this inadvertent disengagement are already tragic. The New York Times recently uncovered a new deal between the Kurds and the Syrian Government, stating that; "The Kurds' deal with Damascus paved the way for government forces to return to the country's northeast for the first time in years to try to repel a Turkish invasion launched after the Trump administration pulled American troops out of the way." Essentially, we have lost one of two of our most reliable allies in the Middle East. Moreover, the deal isn't even a guarantee for peace. For a while, Syria may view the Kurds as new allies, Turkey and Russia do not. For years Turkey patiently waited for the day US Military presence wouldn't stand in their way of seizing Kurdish land, and according to a recent NBC News report, that day is today. "Russia has a powerful sway on all sides. Turkey has suggested it wants Russia to persuade the Syrian Government to cede its control over a major chunk of territory in the northeast. The Kurds are hoping Russia can keep Turkey out and help preserve some of the autonomy they carved out for themselves during Syria's civil war." The differing ideologies of the Northern Syrian region could lead not just to more regional clash, but potentially, a new full-fledged war. Tensions across the Middle East are already reached abnormal heights, if a war were to break out it would most likely involve Iran and force them to take a side, which in turn would expand their current proxy war with Saudia Arabia, leading the way for the GCC and the US to be brought into the later fore fire. Although a lot of this is based on speculation, said speculation is based on historical precedent and recent political events, because as the saying goes, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Unfortunately, it seems as though our experiences with Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya weren't enough. Syria is a time bomb for the Middle East and we are about to hit zero.
CA N THE U.S. A GREE ON THE PA RI S A GREEM ENT? On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. would cease to take part in the Paris Climate Accords. Since then, the administration has continued to defend its decision as the clock continues to tick. The United Nations gives us only 10 years to fight climate change before irreversible damage occurs to our environment and our earth, and the Paris Agreement was created based on the goal of fighting it. This poses an obvious question, then: do the Paris Climate Accords help the United States to fight climate change? In order to remain competitive within a global renewable energy economy, the United States needs the Paris Agreement. This in and of itself demonstrates the necessity of the Paris Agreement to the United States. If the U.S. follows through with its plan to step away from the Paris Agreement, it will lose its standing in the race to clean energy. Moreover, it loses its chance for economic prosperity, and its leadership positions, to competing countries like China and the European Union. As China continues to renew its commitments to clean energy and fighting climate change, it is imperative that the United States does the same instead of backing away. Remaining in the Paris Agreement helps the U.S. ensure that it will continue to lead the world against climate change. By strengthening its domestic and international commitments, the United States demonstrates that it is willing and capable of leading the world when it comes to renewable energy. This is an opportunity cost that the White House cannot continue to ignore. Some opponents of the Paris Agreement claim that it is ill-suited for fighting climate change. Others claim that its regulations aren?t strong enough. In reality, the Paris Agreement is key to solving issues on a global stage that have prevented the international community from tackling climate change so far. This inability of the international community to agree on climate change policies is predicated on 2 issues. First, climate change represents a huge coordination problem. The fight against global warming necessitates that every country decreases its emissions, because only a collective international effort can actually result in a meaningful decrease in carbon emissions. The problem is that in the status quo, there?s massive conflict over which countries should act, what they should do, and when they should do it. Secondly, disagreement over who actually bears the cost of investment in renewable energy has served as an obstacle to efforts to fight global warming. The cost of clean energy is one of the largest concerns when it comes to a country?s involvement in the clean energy race. No country wants to bear the sole brunt of the massive costs of renewables. The Paris Agreement works to solve these issues in two ways. First, it requires only 2 commitments of every single country: transparency and emissions reduction. Secondly, it unifies countries as 1 unified body, solidifying international action. This helps decrease disagreement over climate policies while still maintaining the autonomy of individual countries. One way or another, the United States needs to find a way back into the Paris Agreement. When it comes to global warming, we?re not going to get a second chance.
THE UNI TED STA TES A ND TA I WA N: A N I M POSSI BLE RELA TI ONSHI P Modern media has painted a terrifying picture of Chinese aggression towards Taiwan. While these stories of Chinese hostility are undoubtedly true, they have been painted with a broad brush, smearing out the intricacies of the geopolitical situation within the area. As the United States government continues to support Taiwan with military and diplomatic aid, it is time for it to reconsider its actions and their ensuing effects. It is clear from past precedent that supporting Taiwanese independence and democracy creates tensions with China. United States interference within Taiwan clashes with Chinese motives. Taiwan has been a point of contention between the United States and China for years. Furthermore, the fact that the United States has supplied Taiwan with hundreds of millions of dollars of weaponry has only continued to increase anxiety. If the United States continues to take additional actions to support Taiwanese autonomy, it could jeopardize international relations by escalating levels of tension and conflict. The impacts could be devastating. In the status quo, there is one factor which plays a crucial role in the relationship between the United States, China, and Taiwan: the South China Sea. China holds considerable influence over the South China Sea. A Washington Post article explains that China claims over 80%1 of the South China Sea, and has backed up its claims with aggressive military policy while building artificial islands to serve as military bases. This is significant because the South China Sea is crucial to global trade. Three and a half trillion dollars in trade flow through it every year, making up over 20%2 of global commerce. This is a clear indicator of the importance of the South China Sea as a shipping passage to international economics. This creates a situation where supporting Taiwanese independence risks disrupting the flow of trade in the South China Sea. China has already made it clear that it will take military action if the United States interferes with Taiwan. Initiating a fight with China within the South China Sea over Taiwan would be detrimental for the global economy. Trade routes would be blocked, harming both regional and global economies by disrupting the flow of goods. Furthermore, not only does supporting Taiwanese autonomy risk a global recession, it continues to weaken the relationship between the United States and China - a relationship that has already been frayed by the ongoing trade war. If US-China relations continue to deteriorate, the United States will find itself in a difficult diplomatic and economic situation in the years to come. Ultimately, it is evident that supporting Taiwan is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the United States promotes the democratic values that it holds dear on the international stage. On the other hand, it risks causing a war and a global recession that will end up hurting its own economy and citizens. While a majority of people support the notion that international action should focus on maintaining democracy within Taiwan, it would be more sensible to focus on maintaining peace within the South China Sea. Put simply, the type of government a country has does not matter if the country is embroiled in chaos. For the foreseeable future, it would be best for the United States to remain disengaged from Taiwan to avoid further increasing conflict. Interfering in regional politics should not and cannot be the intention of our nation. Sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don?t make.
" WHERE'S THE BUTTON FOR DEM OCRA CY?" An image of the Hong Kong protests has been blowing up on the social media platform Reddit, captioned, ?This photo of the Hong Kong protests looks straight out of a video game.?And while thousands of Reddit users took to the comments to remark on the bravery and fearlessness of Hong Kong citizens, the caption speaks the truth of a much darker revelation: the protests have truly transformed into something larger than life. This isn?t a video game. This is real life. It appears that the protestors have forgotten that. Over the course of the past few months, Hong Kong has been embroiled in a series of protests fighting for increased democratic liberties and ultimately, a more discernible demarcation from the mainland. ?Sorry for the inconvenience. We are fighting for the future of our home,?stated one of the posters, lost among a sea of banners and signs. From initially good intentions of reform, the state of Hong Kong?s protests has caused outsiders to question whether the motive of the protests is reform-or revolution. The situation started with a policy measure: a proposal from the Hong Kong government that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to the Chinese mainland. ?To close a loophole,?the government justified. On June 9, nearly 1 million citizens took to the streets demanding that the proposal be removed. By June 12, police had begun using riot control measures, such as tear gas, piquing the attention of spectating nations and humanitarian organizations. On June 15, Hong Kong?s leader, Carrie Lam, suspended the extradition bill. The move was largely regarded as insincere, and the following day, more than 2 million demonstrators flooded the streets. In terms of the US population, that would be the equivalent of more than 90 million protestors. On August 25, police deployed water cannons for the first time--and later, added blue dye. One striking trend throughout the demonstrations has been the Hong Kong people?s resilience in the face of adversity. Say what you want about these individuals. They do not bend. Finally, on September 4,
Carrie Lam formally withdrew the extradition bill. Alas, the protests were over. Not. The protestors still have 4 standing demands. As the South China Morning Post articulates, the people are demanding 1) the resignation of the chief executive, 2) that the government stop referring to the protests as riots, 3) an independent investigation into the police?s actions, and 4) all those arrested in connection with the protests be released. Like Reddit stated, Hong Kong is becoming more like a video game every day. Growing up playing Super Mario, the protests give me flashbacks to my childhood. In an attempt to save the hopeless Princess Peach from the dastardly villain Bowser, my friends and I would venture from castle to castle, defeating each of his goons. But every time, Bowser would whisk Princess Peach away to another castle. By some measures, the Hong Kong protests have become reminiscent of this 64-bit struggle-unrelenting. There are a few problems with the paradigm within Hong Kong. In the face of the uncompromising stipulations from the protestors, it seems there?s too much action and not nearly enough talk. As New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman explains on September 17, ?[T]he Hong Kong protesters proudly proclaim they have ?no leader.??That, however, could bite them in the back. As South China Morning Post columnist Alex Lo furthers on September 11, it?s difficult to transform protests into practicality. Negotiations and bargaining don?t just materialize out of thin air. What?s more, is the naĂŻvety of the protestors in maintaining an uncompromising stance towards all of their demands. Concessions must be made and the Hong Kongers must understand that adopting a ?not-one-less?attitude towards their ambitions is not viable. Moreover, it seems the protests have lost touch with their original foundation. When they originally began, they were a watershed demonstration of a peaceful push for democratic liberties. Columnist Samir Nazareth of the South China Morning Post noted in July how orderly the protests were and the politeness of the protestors to move out of the way in allowing an ambulance to drive between a crowd. Over time,
push turned to shove, and the Hong Kong protests have become increasingly violent. I don?t need to tell you the atrocities the police and other anti-protest/pro-China groups have committed. It is unforgivable to permanently blind a journalist nor is it permissible for a taxi driver to drive into a field of crowded protestors. To my concern, the ferocity of the protestors is far too often overlooked or mischaracterized as bravery. It is not brave when a businessman speaking Chinese is beaten up by protestors. It is not brave when bystanding businesses thought to be pro-Chinese are lit aflame. It is not brave when an actress requires 11 stitches for ruthless injuries sustained after filming a crowd in the act of vandalizing an ATM. For a movement so centered around democratic ideals, it ought to be more conscious of the freedoms of speech and expression. What?s even more shocking about the chaos and brutality surrounding the current protests is that a 2014 Hong Kong protest advocating for--you guessed it--political freedoms was renowned for being one of the politest protests that has ever graced the world stage. As the BBC writes in December of 2014, the ?Umbrella Movement,? as it was later dubbed, occurred as Hong Kongers peacefully pushed for the right to elect their leader. In some cases, the protestors even lent their totemic umbrellas to riot police to shield them from the rain. The protests fizzled out over a few weeks with no concessions from the mainland. As the remains of the movement were dealt with by police, demonstrators chanted, ?We?ll be back.? They kept their word. It doesn?t seem any more likely, however, that these new waves of protests will usher in new results. Advocacy without application is futile in a world where the Hong Kong protestors are fighting against the Chinese mainland. And preaching without practicing is a recipe for disaster when it comes to ideologues wishing to establish a new government. The Redditors were right: The situation in Hong Kong has become something straight out of a video game. But the title screen is flashing ?Game Over.?
CLOGGI NG THE SCHOOL TO PRI SON PI PELI NE In Arizona, private prisons use the reading scores of 3rd graders to determine the number of prison beds they will need ten years later. Although this may seem like an unusual way for prisons to calculate future inventory needs, it is quite logical. Sociology professor Donald Hernandez reports that 85% of all juvenile offenders have literacy deficits. Additionally, he found that 40% of 3rd graders cannot even read at a competent level. Too often, American policy makers have attributed these facts to the systematic flaws of the American education system, highlighting underfunded districts and incompetent teachers. However, if that were the case, the problem would have been solved by a simple funding increase. Thus, I believe that the problem lies not in the competency of our amazing and dedicated teachers, but in the severity of punishments. Specifically, zero-tolerance policies, coupled with reasonable suspicion, has fueled the school to-prison-pipeline for decades. The term ?school-to-prison pipeline?was coined by education reform activists to describe a clear pattern, where disadvantaged students are pushed out of school, and into the criminal justice system. The ?pipeline?is the result of institutions?neglect in addressing students as individuals who might need educational assistance, and instead addressing them through unreasonable punishment. According to the Harvard Law Review in 2015, almost all school districts have expanded the policy of reasonable suspicion, originally enacted to focus on ?truly dangerous and criminal behavior?, to include ?infractions that pose little or no safety concerns?. In the status quo, students are disproportionately punished for trivial violations. And because state laws also require schools to report these infractions to law enforcement agencies, students are punished in courtrooms rather than principals?offices. The School-Justice Partnership Task Force concurs in 2013, that 74% of arrests in public schools are for misdemeanors. This is detrimental to education, because Washington University Law quantifies that an arrest nearly doubles the odds of dropping out, and if coupled with a court appearance, nearly quadruples the odds of dropout, and significantly increases the likelihood of future interaction with the criminal justice system. In our competitive society, it is imperative that students stay in school, receive a sound education, and graduate. However, the current system hinders our ability as a country to move forward. The only way to stop the school-to-prison pipeline is to eliminate zero tolerance policies. Furthermore, the reasonable suspicion standard must only be only applied to ?truly dangerous and criminal behavior,?as it has in the past. Students should be learning in classrooms to be the next generation of leaders, not sitting behind bars contemplating, on how their schools have failed them. The moral fabric of our country is woven with compassion, morality, and forgiveness. It is time we reflect these values in our education system.
RECONNECTI NG YOUTH Throughout Arizona, the excitement of new opportunities is in the air. High School seniors are eager to go off to college, or start a full time job. College students, empowered by their extensive education, are ready to start a new chapter in their lives. But many youth in Arizona are not part of this spring?s promise of new beginnings. Instead of laying the foundation of knowledge, skills, identity, and purpose for their futures, one out of every five teens and adolescents in Phoenix are neither working nor in school, according to its City Council Engagement Study. These 100,000 Phoenicians compose a demographic known as ?disconnected youth?, a term used to characterize and identify youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not enrolled in school or working a job. Phoenix has the highest rate of disconnected youth than any other metropolitan city in America. The impacts of disconnection, especially on such young people, are profound. Limited education coupled with social exclusion have fostered a destructive reality which affects almost every aspect of their lives and futures. The most damaging are declines in physical and mental health, an increase in criminal behavior and incarceration, and early mortality. It is important to note that youth disconnection is neither the fault of those affected, nor a problem they should face alone. Arizona?s government and its people must work in tandem to prevent the continued ostracization of these young adults from society by providing them with the opportunities they deserve. Primarily, we must reach out to disconnected youth, showing them they are not defined by their adversities. Christopher Dickinson has been leading these efforts through the Zip Code Project, a program started by the Arizona Department of Education in 2015. His organization serves as a bridge between youth and services, such as dropout recovery programs, alternative schools, and job search programs. Felix Moran, the youth outreach coordinator for the Maricopa Education Service Agency, has been at the forefront of similar efforts to connect youth with jobs, schools, and nonprofits. Fortunately, their efforts are working. According to a report by Measure of America this year, Metro Phoenix decreased its population of disconnected youth by almost 33% since the 2010 U.S. Census, more than any other urban area. Although these efforts are extraordinary, 67,100 youth remain disconnected from our society. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of people like Christopher Dickinson and Felix Moran, ending youth disconnection in Arizona is actually possible. As a society, we must collectively reach out to the next generation of potential leaders, doctors, engineers and world-changers whose futures do not deserve to be tainted by their circumstances. Connecting youth with dropout recovery programs, alternative schools, and job search programs have proved effective. Other avenues of connection, including sports and music programs, would drastically benefit the lives of these young adults. Teens part of amazing organizations can pilot efforts to connect with these youth and motivate them to strive for better futures.
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