LOS ANGELES (April 22, 1999) -- In the aftermath of Tuesday's school tragedy in Littleton, CO, America's focus is turning - once again - to identifying ways to prevent such occurrences. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's "Teen Line" program will present a panel of six high school students who will address the issue of teens and tolerance on Wednesday, April 28, at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills. The panel discussion is part of Teen Line's annual "Food for Thought" luncheon, which this year focuses on encouraging teens to cross socio-economic and ethnic boundaries as a means of enhancing understanding and reducing teen violence.
Sponsored by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Teen Line is a teen-to-teen hotline that is an integral part of the Juvenile Procedures School at the Police Academy in Los Angeles, and has become a model training program of teen suicide prevention/intervention with the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to Elaine Leader, Ph.D., Teen Line's Executive Director and a therapist specializing in adolescent psychology, tragedies like the one at Columbine High School often involve students who feel isolated or socially unsuccessful. "Students who perceive themselves as outsiders will often try to find someone in a similar social position and form a group. This provides them with a sense of belonging, but the tone of the group often reflects negative values or even violence. Gangs, for example, are formed in this way," says Dr. Leader.
Indeed, one of Wednesday's panelists will be a student who experienced feelings of isolation that led to his joining forces with an older student who invited him to become involved in breaking the law. Other panelists will include an interracial couple, bi-racial students and two students will share their experiences as volunteers at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, and in a community-based outreach of the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Camp.