Youth of a Nation
“Youth of a Nation” is a powerful piece by Payable on Death, also known as P.O.D.; the song covers several of the most prominent risk factors facing children in modern day America. In American society a wide range of social problems have developed rapidly throughout most of the 19st century into the 21st century; problems ranging from sporadic crime epidemics, rising murder rates, and more shockingly suicide rates in youths. “Youth of a Nation” addresses high risk factors that have surely defined our society; prominent factors featured in the song include random school shootings, young females that turn to a life of ill repute, and suicide.
P.O.D. characterizes each factor with a short story between course lines, the first of which involves a young boy that decides to shoot several classmates at school. The song characterizes this boy as anonymous from the point of view of one of the classmates he shot; it presented as if nobody knew about the boy despite being in the same class, a definite reason was not given for his violent outburst but the victim theorized he may have lost his wits with a possible reason being insanity brought on by loneliness. This type of incident seems to be a reoccurring theme between school shootings, children who have disjointed social ties, among other factors we can only speculate such as poor home life, tend to be unstable and may take rash course of action when they hit their lowest point; however, this is not always the case. Sometimes the incident is more solitary in the form of a suicide, which is covered later. Another risk factor presented in the song revolves around the inverse outcome, someone so desperate to fit in that they turn into attention seekers, forgetting themselves in the process.
The second story involves a young girl who, in a misguided attempt to fit in, resorts to using her body to gain attention from her peers. From the point of view of the song the young girl of only twelve resorted to selling her body in exchange for companionship; the attention she received, however, was only positive when she was actively selling herself, behind her back it was negative. It is then explained that her father had left her with little confidence in herself, a traumatizing event in any case; however, the father’s part in her situation is indicative to have involved some form of child abuse, possibly of a sexual nature. Child abuse is a serious trauma on an individual’s psyche, not to mention the physical complications that may arise as a result; sexual abuse has been known to delay or encourage puberty, which seems to have happened in this young girl’s case.
The final story presented in “Youth of a Nation” is a not so uncommon tale that has increased in frequency over recent years; this story focuses on an outcast young male who, despite his best efforts, was never accepted as part of the clique he desperately wanted to be in thus leading him to solitude and then suicide. This tale is one that hits close to home for me, for I could have gone down the same road at one point in my life if not for the help from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and my appointed guide whom I am thankful for each day; unfortunately, the outreach of help is not available as easily to some and, due to the bystander tendencies of our society, help may not be offered. Out of the three risk factors presented through the song the factor in last story is the most depressing; when people are isolated and deprived of the emotional support they need from others the individual feels a gradual sinking feeling, very few are able to escape alone and without outside help the individual may not recover, perhaps even resort to suicide as the song portrays.
As I have personally experience with at least one of the factors presented in “Youth of a Nation” I can testify how it feels to be at your lowest point, there is a “sway” that occurs where you must choose to let the dark consume you or to reach out and seize your chance at escape; not everybody is fortunate to have a chance to escape however. If more programs were developed and more adults were trained to recognize risk factors earlier than many of the issues presented by P.O.D. would be resolvable and the individuals they plague can receive their chance at escape and tragic cases such as those presented can become a thing of the past.