I have a pet peeve. Yes, even me. Ms. Happy-Go-Lucky, always-striving-to-be-positive, glass-half-full-thinking me, has a particular issue that just gets my blood boiling. My issue is when the youth are blamed for the dysfunction and confusions of our society.

I have been in the company of many dialogues that began with the statement, “I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today.” How is it that the most vulnerable, the easiest to influence, and most eager to please population of our society has become the cause of the problems of our world? Our youth are not the problem, but the product of all that the world is or is not.

I have had the pleasure of working with children in many facets of my life. I have always valued and respected the innocent curiosity, honesty and free expression of children. There have been many studies conducted that have proven that we are not born hateful, distrustful or fearful. We are born loving, trusting and feeling as if there is nothing we can’t obtain or do.

However, at some point seeds of hate, distrust and fear get planted into our little fertile beings as children. The seeds may be planted by parents, teachers, family members or any other adult influences in our lives, yet once that seed takes root it gets watered throughout our lives and forms within us. Music is water, television is water, relationships are water, food is water and anything that influences our beings is water to our spirit, mind and body.

Considering the vulnerability of children and the major influences of our society, are those influences truly designed to impact children in the most positive way? Popular youth culture in media, the foods that are most popular for young people, the examples of relationships, familial or intimate — are they the most positive influences?

Are children the creators of these things or are they the “creation” of these things? Increased violence and sex in the media leads to increased violence and sex in children. Unhealthy food leads to unhealthy children. Dysfunctional relationships leads to dysfunctional children. If we want the state of our children to improve, we must improve as a society.

The next time you come in contact with children in your family, community or every day journey, plant a healthy seed in their beings and allow the “good” waters of life to provide positive growth in them, one drop at a time. Are our children the problem or product of our society?

Ayeshah Bulls is a freelance writer and the author of Stripped, published in 2008. She is a Northsider, active volunteer and currently attends Carlow University for Psychology. She hopes her column promotes hope and the will to progress on the Northside.