I spent my life until I was age thirteen growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. I have to say that I have been blessed with having a diverse community around me most of my life. A little after my seventh grade year I moved to a small town in Minnesota by the name of Cass Lake. Those of you that don’t know where Cass Lake is in Minnesota, it is fifteen minutes from Bemidji, Minnesota in the middle of the Leech Lake Reservation.

Having come from such a diverse backround, I have grown accustomed to some of the behaviors of my peers around me. In the town in Illinois that I grew up in there was a huge array of cultures and diversity. In Cass Lake the towns population is about 80-90% Native American. This is where I have noticed the most significant behavioral changes.

The major key factor in unacceptable behavior in Cass Lake is an unstable family life. Youth as young as 8 and 9 are able to do whatever they want and go whenever they please. This is not true for all youth in Cass Lake, but there is a significant population that doesn’t have anyone to give them structure. This is where behavior is affected. In Illinois, most families had a stable up-bringing, and the main reason for acting out was rebellion against parents. Though each circumstance is different, the behaviors are realtively the same.

As I went through the years at Cass Lake, I noticed how some of my peers around me started to change. Drug use became a common theme along with alcohol, and their behaviors in school and out were affected. I didn’t quite understand why this was happening, but as I got older I realized that most of my friends were never at one place very long. A lot of them would bounce from parent, to grandparent, to aunt, to friends couches. They never had a stable place to live, so therefore they didn’t have anybody to guide them through life. This is a huge problem in many areas around the country, and something really needs to be done about it.

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I find it amazing as to how young adults act in certain situations. When their pride or toughness is put to the test they always take a route where they overreact to prove that they are cool or whatever you may call it. There may have been some situations when I was younger where this type of behavior was evident, but I see the same young adults choose the same reactions over and over again. It makes me wonder whether these actions are their genuine feelings or if it is all a contrived act. The latter of the two is what I lean on the majority of the time, and it is what most corrections workers call putting up a front. Instead of talking out their feelings, the youth take to aggressive behavior and continually put themselves in bad situations. Its amazing how hard it is to get some of these youths to open up to you and convey their feelings, but once you do the intrinsic rewards are fantastic. Once you make these individuals admit their wrongdoings there is a light that comes on in them that is a wonderful thing to sit back and watch. These young adults continually grow on you and the need for you to be near them grows in you also. This really is probably the only job I have ever had where I actually look forward to going to work.

Working with youth is something that I have begun to really enjoy over the last four-fives months, but over the last 5-10 years I have noticed that today’s youth have a different mentality to them, and they seem to be more independent than in the past. What this leads to I a different mentality, which leads to always changing emotional and physical states. Why this change has occurred is what I want to examine?

Another reason is that I want for everyone to be aware of the impact that culture has on young adults emotional states. Having spent most of my life growing up on an Indian Reservation, I have witnessed the impact of how a family can make or break a child. While one child may have a stable family situation, another child may not have anybody to depend on. This is critical in a child’s physical state, along with their emotional state. Youth are sometimes quickly diagnosed with some sort of medical condition, and quickly put on depressants to help dampen their emotional states, but a majority of the time there is something much deeper that is affecting the child and the child has no one to talk to about that situation. All of these thoughts get bottled up and most of the time this ends up with a change in the outlook of the child’s life, and all the child knows how to do is act out in an unacceptable manner. These are the situations that I want to shed light on, and that I want the public to know about, because the more stable a youths life can be, the better off that youth will be.