When the afternoon bells ring at the middle and high school across the street; the parade of youth begins. You see youth from all over the world passing by our San Diego office, which is located at one of the park entrances. Some of the youth are from Mexico, Somalia, India, Burma, East Africa, Vietnam, Nepal, Iraq, Haiti and Israel. Their colorful clothes, faces, and languages spoken are like rays of sunshine resting upon one face.
We have views of the recreation center, tennis courts, racket ball courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, the golf course, and The Top of the Park. Who is going to The Top of the Park? Each day young girls are seen holding the hands of boys that they are so in love with. The girls who are looking for true love. Girls who do not know that true love begins with respect; respect for themselves. They think no one can see them; as these young boys kiss and touch all over them in the clear view of our office. As I approach I say, “Do you know that we can see you?” The initial contact is shocking because she does not know that she is not hiding. The next line of attack is, “How much respect do you think he really has for you? You are out here in the broad daylight, with everyone out here looking at you.” The girl usually looks at her feet. I tell her to look up and look around. I then ask the guy, “Is this the type of girl you will take home to meet your mother? Is this the type of thing you want your little sister doing?” The boys response is usually, “no,” to both questions. I tell the girl if he really cared about you, he wouldn’t even ask you to come up here, that is unless you asked him.
According to TeenHelp.com, “though the pregnancy rate is going down, each year there are still about 820,000 teen pregnancies.” That is startling. We have to encourage mothers to take back the responsibility of raising young women who have respect for themselves. We have to teach them that some boy making a public spectacle of them only causes pain down the line. Today sex is more of a game. Losing one’s virginity does not carry that much weight. At The Top of the Park sometimes we get there too late.
We are living in times where morality is not a priority. The crazy thing is; it is illegal for minors to have sex. In the state of California it is illegal for a minor to have sexual intercourse. Parents who are promoting sex to their minor children are actually supporting their youth breaking the law. Many say it is a matter of choice, but are they the ones who sit up at night with the young girl who feels that she has no reason to live.
Who is going to The Top of the Park?
Portia Dawson defines her purpose as “empowering young women to stand up and be counted” and to also help girls “do the right thing” and avoid the relationship pitfalls she overcame. Portia is a Mentor Program Administrator for the National Police Athletic Leagues (P.A.L.) and based in San Diego, Calif. In this role, Portia developed a group that builds relationships with women who education, knowledge and passion for success. By this, she believes each young person’s life can be improved for healthier living by self-acknowledgment, self-assertion and self-confidence. In addition to a strong mental health field career, Portia works closely with the Latino Youth Council, The San Diego Oceans Foundation, Community Housing Works, and The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the San Diego Department of Education. Portia has served with the Women of L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. 1ST since May 2011.