We hear it all the time about Amsterdam's teenagers.
There's nothing for them to do. All they do is wander around town causing trouble. Babies are having babies. They're all smoking pot or doing other drugs. They won't get off my lawn.
The problem with those stereotypes -- like many others used to describe life in the Rug City -- is there isn't any data to back up those claims. People instead are prone to make assumptions based on hearsay or the actions of a few. The problem might not be as bad as folks think. Then again, maybe it's worse.
A new initiative spearheaded by Centro Civico aims to get a handle on that.
Although the organization primarily works with and advocates for Amsterdam's Hispanic community, the agency plans to survey city teenagers from all walks of life to find out what they're up to. We hope the effort succeeds.
A few years ago, Centro Civico conducted a similar survey throughout the community asking what people wanted to see for the area's youth. The overwhelming response, according to Fabrizia Rodriguez, the center's director of community initiatives, was that teenagers need more activities.
What's nice about this new effort is Centro Civico is responding to that feedback while trying to get a handle on what young people are up to these days.
Knowing that teenagers won't simply fill out a questionnaire just because they were asked to, Centro Civico is planning all sorts of activities this summer where the surveys will be available. People can find out more about those activities by calling 842-3762.
We encourage parents to get their young people involved with the agency this summer, and youths should be encouraged to take the time and fill out the surveys.
We also hope young people will be honest about what they're up to. The results will help Centro Civico and other community groups in town better tailor their services so teenagers can have happier and healthier lives.