I was an adult volunteer faciliator at John Marshall High School in Cleveland yesterday for “Challenge Day.” This was a day-long event that included 100 high school students, some 20 adults, and a couple staff members from Challenge Day, which is a non-profit group out of San Francisco trying to change the growing culture of hate in our country’s schools. One of the facilitator’s, Sean, said America is in a tremendously bad state because of the anger, resentment, violence… that is escalating in the culture in general. He said it comes from years of repressed anger, sadness, fear… that builds up in people from dysfunctional family environments, dysfunctional peer environments, etc. He said the key is to start to tap into and vent these feelings in a supportive and loving environment. And that’s the kind of environment these Challenge Day people created this day, as students (and adults) talked — sometimes for the first time — about parental abandonment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, peer intimidation, fear of the streets… During one exercise, students were asked to acknowledge how many live in an environment where they hear gun shots. Half of the hundred students did… Sean pointed out that people who are abused have a strong tendency to turn around and abuse others — which is at the root of a lot of the problems playing out in our schools today… Our administration would look at just increasing the security presence in the schools as tremendously myopic. But rather, we would promote projects like Challenge Day (and Challenge Day ongoing peer support groups) as the real answer to changing a youth culture that seems almost spinning out of control.