I always ask myself what will our young people do without support and guidance. It saddens me when I see innocent children playing outside past eight o’clock with no parental guidance, hearing of another child being a victim of something like rape or child abuse, or one of our youth committing a crime that will totally destroy their character and life forever. When I compare my upbringing to that of today’s youth, I realize times are much different. There are more single mothers than ever before, families are more dependent on public assistance, city schools and community groups have lack of funding for youth programs, and young people don’t have access to role models to EMPOWER them to achieve higher goals.

I attended high school in North Philadelphia, an area plagued by poverty, blight and low performing schools. The frustration of no books, lack of school resources, and disruptions from students distracted some of our teachers, leading them to become disciplinarians for the students who were hard to control, or teaching at a level that did not push students like me who wanted to learn to our highest potential. Denial of adequate education is a great disservice which sets the stage for future life choices. Although a fortunate few of us graduated from high school, attended college and secured careers, many had children very early, worked low wage jobs, sold drugs or engaged in other illegal acts that got them sent to prison, or were murdered.

I often wondered what set us “fortunate few” apart from our peers and helped us to excel despite the odds stacked against us. I soon realized that many of us who excelled had mentors who helped us imagine a world beyond our current circumstances and aim high for success.

I knew I had to do something to give back the mentorship given to me. First, I became a “neighborhood advocate”, reaching out to youth in my own community to have frank conversations about sex, peer pressure, school, the importance of attending college and even helped those who would not attend college with filling out job applications so that they could help financially support their families. After seeing positive results and impact, I felt my purpose was to help young people, and later became one of the youth leaders at my church. I tell every young person I come in contact with to never look at what’s around you, just focus on your future and beating the odds. I share my own story openly and frankly. I let them know that anything is possible.

After pushing those youth, I knew I had to further my own education. I first attended a one year technical school, then Chestnut Hill College where I received my Bachelors of Science in Business Communications and will be attending Arcadia University for my MBA.

Throughout my journey, it makes me feel good that I have made a positive impact on many young people. Whether at my church, at work, on the train, city streets and even the nail salon, I always make myself open and available to youth. My belief is if God is always available to me, why I can’t be available for Him to use me, to touch the lives of other people.

If I can impact the life of one young person a day, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.

I encourage everyone, if you see a child that needs guidance please reach out and make a difference in that person’s life.

Here are a few resources:

Losing Our Youth HYPERLINK “http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=410936” http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=410936

Daniel E. Rumph II Foundation HYPERLINK “www.derii.org/” www.derii.org/

Philadelphia Youth Network HYPERLINK “www.pyninc.org” www.pyninc.org

Youth United for Change HYPERLINK “www.yucyouth.org” www.yucyouth.org

Big Brothers Big Sisters HYPERLINK “www.bbbs.org” www.bbbs.org

Safiya D. Elliotte has 10 years of experience in youth advocacy, she also has a Medical Assistant Certificate from Thompson Institute, and after realizing she wanted to change her profession, she decided to enroll at Chestnut Hill College where she obtained her Bachelors of Science in Business Communications and in the fall of 2010, she will be attending Arcadia University for her Masters in Business Administration.

© 2014, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Personal Branding| Content Marketing| Product Creation. All rights reserved.


  1. Melanie Forman on June 22, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Aw, look at my friend!!! Great article, it’s sad that there are so few options available for the youth these days but yet they always cut funding to education whenever its time to make room in the budget.

    Keep up the good work girlie!!!

  2. Safiya Elliotte on June 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Hey Melanie,

    Thank you so much, and your so right! The city always cut out the resources that are needed to keep our young people active. Just look at our city budget crisis, the mayor shut down some of the areas librarys. Was that smart? No, such a big mistake!

  3. Ciara on April 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for writing this article because it’s really sad how our young people are slipping away every day. The crime committed are so senseless. I’ll never understand why they kill each other so senselessly or at all. There is no reason to take another human life. Justthe other week a few teenagers were killed in Chester during a party. Someone let the killers in through the backway and they opened fire on the partygoers. It’s a shame that these kind of stories are so commonplace these days.

    I hope more people will step up and do something about it!

  4. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I just did a research paper on this for college! and thats the same question i wrote and tried to answer in my essay

  5. Bridget Cagle via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I was dating a young man who also did dirt and someone shot him in the back of the head at a card game and killed him also it sad…to us women its not right its ashame men die this way….but men live this way you live by the sword you die by the sword what can be done I don’t know because my friend with out a doubt knew he was loved by many and he left 3 children here all under 5 yrs of age its sad really. Alot of men think they Tony Montana are someone they think they bad only black men can change their attitudes and live that’s why the prisons are so full of black men its up to them to change.

  6. Jasmine Nolookingback Chester via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    this is soooo very true if it was only more love and less hate more joy and no envy people out here have the minds they have to take what the next person has instead of just going out getting it themselves even those that sell drugs and etc. but no one has the right to steal from anyone smh i just pray for the world everyday from the youngest to the oldest. I pray God continue to keep my childrens mind and mines as well!

  7. Antwoine Halmon via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    ive been askin myself that same question for years they dont realize there contributing 2 genocide

  8. Nanayaa Serwaa Osei via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    May good God help dis world

  9. Perry Mclain via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    well my contribution is to reach out n the communities nd not not just my own. speak nd listen nd try to reach a few… nd not to criticize bcause lord know i had my moments n the streets nd the system. i understand however i dont condone the senseless violence. Maybe my change can help someone else….

  10. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    @All-It’s crazy because I hate to be synical, but I don’t know what to do because only the individuals can help themselves. I mean we try to provide outlets for them, but some kids just don’t care. A few weeks ago, a kid had abirthday party at a Masonic building. They rented it out for the party. Some kids let these rival gang members into the party and they killed two or three people. Why? Just two years ago, my sister’s little brother was brutally murdered for no reason at all. He was a good kid who went to church and all. These young guys approached them and told them to lay on the ground and they just shot them. One of the boys who was murdered was in a young police officer to be program. You know, the ones who do dirt and the ones who are innocent all get caught up somehow. It’s sad.

  11. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    thats good perry that you changed and are allowing God to use you

  12. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    @Perry- I commend people like you, Michael Baisden, Steve Harvey, and ordinary citizens who try to teach a few every day and find ways to give back. I mean, nobody’s life is perfect, but we can’t keep allowing a messed up home life to be the reason why so many act out in the streets. I mean, I just shake my head.

  13. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    @Merrika—what conclusions did you draw from your research?

  14. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    hope my paper helps in some small way than i feel that my gift of writing was used for its purpose

  15. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    SHALENA….so many young black men…YOUNG BLACK KINGS…..dont c each other as such…to each other its easier 2 kill the NEXT ‘nigga’….so they call each other that!!!!!BECAUSE THEY DONT SEE THEMSELVES AS YOUNG BLACK KINGS!!!!!

  16. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    sorry shalen but whn u sent tht last chat i was already typing

  17. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    @Rochelle-You hit that nail right on the head. They don’t see themselves in positive images. So much blood has been wasted. I wonder how many young black men have been killed. It’s crazy because these young black men put the KKK out of business.

  18. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    @Merrika- So you think the government plays a much bigger role than many think? I mean, at the end of the day, doesn’t an individual still have a choice whether or not to pull the trigger? It seems like they do it for sport.

  19. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I agree that we have free will but i also believe that the goverment has some role in this issue. And yes i do think they do it for sport and are black men are the losers in the game

  20. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    @Merrika- You have such a good heart to serve. I really admire that about you. You’re gonna be okay!

  21. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    admire and what makes u say I do?

  22. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    @Rochelle-You just gave me an idea… what if we started calling each other King and Queen. I wonder what effect that would have on society. You know, “What’s up, Queen?” or “That’s my Queen right there.” Just think about Queen Latifah. She demanded that folks call her Queen and look at how she turned out. Maybe we can learn something from that. She set the standard of how she wanted to be perceived.

  23. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    i’ve always done that at shalen what you said to rochelle

  24. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    @Rochelle- I don’t think there are enough Gmom’s like you left that will smack the taste out of a kid’s mouth or gently chastise them when needed even if the child isn’t related to you. Folks are afraid to say stuff to kids these days. But we need the older generation to teach the younger ones. But sadly, Grandmom is 30 something these days and she don’t know squat half the time.

  25. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    You have a caring heart. I can tell that and I admire that about you.

  26. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    i think it wud b wonderful….but will our YOUNG folks say that….i do when i speak to them and they look at me crazee…while they holdin their pants up and a blk and mild n da other hand…smh…i c black kings and queens….i just dont get the young folks today…we cant do anything to discipline our kids…but let them get n2 trouble and picked up by the police….the first person they call is the one who cant touch them…they dont learn respect because they dont have to respect us…that 911 did that…hahaha…i didnt have a fone…i growed up real good…..yupppppp

  27. Merrika Washington via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    thanks shalen i try really hard its the God in me that hels me to love and show compassion to the levels that i do to people. To him be all the praise ang glory.My mom trained me up well in serveing others. and i hope so

  28. Rochelle Bacon Henriene via Facebook on May 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    DIFFERENT HOUSE….DIFFERENT RULES…u no like…u no have to come over….its that simple!!!!!….i tell them…i had ancestors who died not to b calld a nigga…those ancestors r urs 2…its all in how u say it…red kool aide and smoked turkey sandwiches work…and a slice of cake…..hahahahaha….straighten up ur akk when u come n here…..lmbo

  29. Vanessa Junior Jones via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

    yes that’s where i am at and from,.. its so tragic Ohio is catching it here so many deaths and murders/homicides,.. this is a rapture of great proportions ,..*sigh*….. its the only way I personally cqn view It ,.. prayers and only God comfort can help this : to the fam left behind…(((((

  30. Yolanda Thomas via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I remember when i was coming up if you did something wrong your neighbor,.church member could correct you but know so much disrespect and disregard for our elders in my opinion we all are responsible.

  31. Karen Gooden via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Absolutely NOT!!! Parents are responsible for letting these children raise themselves and allow access to guns and weapons! If your child is a problem … You usually know it before he hurts someone else!!!

  32. Tiffany McClendon-Baxter via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I heard about it on the news. Kids now a days are exposed to so much violence, TV, movies, video, games, music ect. I don’t have any kids however, I’ve noticed these things consume kids. They have access to so much now. Growing up I was encouraged to go outside a play, but be in before the streetlight came on… we didn’t have all these things. Rainy days meant family or friend game night, After school activities included boy/girls club, girls inc., or sports. In some households parents let kids do what they want. As parents and a community we need to get back to the basics and spend more time with kids, limit phone/TV time and encourage more stimulating activities.

    I do think bullying is out of control! However, as an educator we can only do so much in the classroom. Classroom sizes aren’t your typical 22-25 students, we’re taking 30+ students to/class with only one teacher. I’m sorry no matter how hard we try, we can’t catch everything. We work hard to try to play every role in a kids life during the school hours and sometimes outside hours as well. Yes we promote a safe environment, but if we don’t catch something and no one speaks up we can’t help. I know some districts have a zero tolerance and there are programs on character education that talk about bullying…kids and parents are aware of this. Also, keep in mind that there is a increase in cyber bullying which is out if the teacher’s control. I think it’s up to parents to work with schools/teachers and reinforce the topic and the importance of telling someone. There has to be open communication between everyone. Kids have to be encouraged to not be afraid and step up and speak out. This is why it’s important to ask your child about their day and read signs/nonvebals.

  33. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I think it’s a combination of everything. It starts at home FIRST. Parents need to parent and not let kids do the parenting or decision making. I also think it starts with the parent allowing trustworthy community members to lend a hand in helping out, too. Back in the day, nosy neighbors would get on you if you did something wrong and tell your mother. These days, people wil kill you for reprimanding their children, even when the kids are int he wrong. I also think the schools need to curb bullying as well. In terms of cyber bullying, I think it’s gone too far and that some kids don’t think. Why take naked pics of yourself and send to people? Do you care where it will end up??? Also, I wonder about some of these kid’s mettle. I mean some of them seem to crack over the smallest things. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but what ever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones…

  34. Regina Reynolds-Morris via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    No, absolutely not. I have been arguing this point for years. Yes I also live in Ohio in Columbus. We have had several incidents of kids having guns at school but in Columbus there is a policy that if you know a student has a weapon, you can let someone of authority know and the situation will be handled. This has worked very well. But back to the subject, no the responsibility belongs to the parent. These PEOPLE (for lack of a better word) are having babies and have no clue as to how to raise a child. They have babies and pawn the responsibility of raising them off on the teachers. Teachers are there to teach, not to be parents. Parents are definately at fault. I have a 16 year old grand son and although he is not my responsibility, I know all his friends, were he’s going, when he’s supposed to be home and other things that maybe I shouldn’t know, but THAT’S what parenting is. So it is the parent’s fault.

  35. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    This is such a horrible thing! With 2 children of my own, a 1st and 5th grader, I’m afraid for them each day I drop them off at school. Teachers like to blame parents and parents like to blame teachers. I believe it is the collective responsibility of both parents and teachers to love, nurture and guide children. Every human being wants to be loved. It begins at home and extends outside. Every human being becomes destructive when they are deprived of it, but when loved and taught compassion and respect for human values, all things become construstive.

  36. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:57 am

    But Ms Regina Reynolds-Morris– I know some parents who raised their children as best they could and their kids still turned out “bad.” What then? Do you look to society for answers? I mean tv, music, movies, and radio is OFF DA HOOK these days. It’s no wonder some of these kids are so easily influenced.

  37. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Has anyone ever watched DeGrassi High on Teen Nick or one of those “kid” shows? They have lesbian scenes, sex scenes, and a kiddle melo drama. It’s too much I think.

  38. Tiffany McClendon-Baxter via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Shalena I agree with you! I remember getting in trouble by neighbors. That’s just it, kids aren’t thinking! They don’t understand how important common sense is…they simply do not use judgement! I remember that saying, it helped, you don’t sound insensitive. It’s true, we have to teach our kids that there is a correct to react to everything! Also, we need to learn how to communicate with each other and be mindful of the our actions because our kids pick up what we do.

  39. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

    When teachers guide with the same love and nourishment, the foundation being laid at home is strenghtened. Parents and teachers truly need to be open-minded, honest and copperative with the best interests of the children first when communicating with each other. The stronger the parent-teacher relationship, the better of our children will be. Parents need to stop being clueless and get more involved with their children. Talk to them, ask them questions about school, how they feel and what they think. Communicate with their teachers if you become concerned about something. Teachers should be more involved and less detached. Remember people: IT TAKES A VILLAGE!

  40. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Some dogs are better parents to their pups than humans are to their children…

  41. Cryss DelightingmyselfinHim Wilcher via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Diva you hit it on the head. The children of today have not been taught the true game of life ~ that sometimes you do lose, and losing isn’t a bad thing. They give trophies to everyone who plays the game, which imo diminishes the efforts of the team that actually won. We don’t teach that even if you lose, effort & hardwork is its own reward.

    We also need to get to know our neighbors ~ just because she’s a young single mother with 3 or 4 kids that are unruly doesn’t mean she’s beyond help. Help her before she gets beyond hope. That’s when its probably too late. Too often, we try to TELL people how to live their lives/raise their children, without thinking how we would actually feel if that happened to us. You lead by example. Sometimes, being a positive influence on the child(ren) will have a snowball effect on a parent who’s wanting help but doesn’t know how to seek/ask for it. Then, there are those of us who are quick to point out the problems, but offer no viable solutions. We blame the schools when these things happen, but are we volunteering in the classrooms to help the teachers? Consider being a part of the solution instead of the one pointing out the problems. Volunteer an hour or two a week at a school. Make a difference….

  42. Regina Reynolds-Morris via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Shalenadiva you are right in what you say and I agree. But in retrospect, when these situations, you end up with one of two conclusions, either the child is from a disfunctional home (parents fault) or the child is being bullied (bullies parents fault) this is just my opinion and I’m sure a lot of folks will disagree.

  43. Tiffany McClendon-Baxter via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Shalena, I actually watched one and it is too much! I’m like where is PBS,afternoon cartoons, the old nickelodeon? Shows aren’t the same anymore!

  44. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I agree Ms. Baxter! THANK YOU FOR BEING AN EDUCATOR! I volunteer @ my kids’ school every day! I want them to see me active in their education and see that I have a relationship with all of their teachers. It leaves less room for them to become followers. They are with me all the time outside of school. We gather in the kitchen for homework while I cook dinner. When we eat dinner we watch their fav shows: iCarly, Victorious, Ant Farm, Fish Hooks, all of them. If something unfavorable happens we discuss why it wasn’t “cool.” I have t-vo and when they go to bed I watch my shows! The best interests of these kids today have to be first all the time!

  45. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Back to DeGrassi, that show is OUT OF CONTROL! NOT GOOD AT ALL! One day, I was like, is this a lesbian scene… it sure was. That was too much for kids to watch at the dinner table. I’m surprised these “uptight” parents haven’t made a loud fuss about it. I have a problem with a kid show that has love scenes in it. I’m sorry.

  46. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

    But you know, it’s hard to compete with the radio and tv. Little girls will more readily look up to Rihanna telling Chris Brown to eat her birthday cake before they listen to a positive sister or brother who’s trying to help them avoid costly mistakes they made.

  47. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 11:33 am

    http://www.shalenadiva.com that’s nothing to apologize for! Adults are in too much of a rush for kids to grow up! I just had a talk with my son yesterday about being a kid as long as he can, because once you grow up you can’t go back. I stress the importance of putting God first, education second: graduating high school and college, career third, then marriage and family. If done in that order, life should be filled peace of mind and happiness.

  48. Tiffany McClendon-Baxter via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Shalena it is like beyond overboard! Omg, I just listened to it….umm yea! That’s my first time hearing it. Sadly i’m sure alot of parents don’t know what these shows/songs contain. I remember having to cover my eyes or even being told leave the room during shows and movies. Oh let’s not discuss the stay out of grown folks conversations. At 27yo I still don’t say certain words to my mom (lying,hell, ect) I either spell them or make up appropriate words. I got popped in the mouth for saying lying so trust i’m not taking any chances. We need to go back to those days.

  49. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Tiffany McClendon-Baxter– are you talking about Birthday Cake? It’s off the hook, but the sad thing is the beat is addictive and very catchy… never mind the fact that they repeat cake, cake, cake, cake, cake…

  50. Tiffany McClendon-Baxter via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Yes Shalena! The beat is catchy, but the, lyrics are very explicit. Sadly, I know the pet names are, cake, cupcake, buttercup, ect. So to think she took it there…little girls identify with these names.

  51. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Tiffany McClendon-Baxter– I told someone that back in the day, you had to figure out what they really meant. They used colorful poetry or language to sing things. take the Whispers for instance. i had no idea what they were singing about until recently–LOL! But Rihanna and Chris just said it and went there…

  52. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I haven’t heard it yet, but yellows description of it makes me hope my kids don’t hear it outside of our house. My son is a jazz man, my kids are old school they like the commodores, al “grits” green as my son calls him, de barge, etc and they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything by not being “up to date” with what kids their age are listening to. Celebs, media and entertainment in general are making our jobs as parents harder, just more things to explain and talk about.

  53. Nickie Coleman via Facebook on February 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Speaking of sons, how’s that handsome son of yours Ms. Diva

Leave a Comment