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December 10, 2012  

Empowering Youth in a Culture of Distractions

by Barbara Pope

Tammy PlunkettOn Saturday, November 24th, Tammy Plunkett, a former nurse and mother of four, spoke at the Ottawa Baha’i Centre on the challenges youth face growing up in society today. “Family and teachers no longer have the influence they used to; peers and media are creating a standard of conduct that influences the choices youth are making,” she began. Youth consume an average of 10 and a half hours of media a day where alcohol, drug use, and sexual activity is normalized. Tammy believes the consequences can be devastating; witnessing changes in her eldest daughter led her to speak out.

When Tammy describes her daughter, her voice perks up, “She is a beautiful, vivacious girl; she lights up any room.” That was until her daughter began getting into trouble.

Tammy challenged parents to think about the environment in which their children are being raised acknowledging she’s had to do the same, “I had to begin holding myself to a higher standard. My ego had to get out of the way.”  Quoting a Baha’i writing, she expressed, “The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind that people in general do no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence.”

Being HumanShe is grateful for social service support but explained, “… help from the system means getting a psychological explanation not a spiritual one … We have to educate our children, lead by example, and establish a culture that reflects the standard of conduct set forth by Baha’u’llah,” including the Baha’i principle of the independent investigation of truth. To this end, Tammy has enrolled in a Baha’i study circle offered to anyone wishing to assist youth in taking ownership of their moral development, shaping spiritual perception, and empowering healthy thoughts and actions.

In the meantime, Tammy continues to have hope: “I’m here for her when she’s ready. I love my daughter unconditionally and I’m here for her.”

[Tammy Plunkett is the author of an upcoming book, Being Human, about balancing our innate drives with our higher selves]

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