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Youth At Risk

Little Katie Sanderson is five years old. Shortly after she was born, her parents started to plan a move from their tract home community in the suburbs of Chicago to an established inner city neighborhood. As former city dwellers themselves, they felt too isolated in the suburbs and wanted their daughter to have the benefit of growing up in a vibrant urban environment. Unfortunately, this means that Katie will spend most of her childhood and adolescence exposed to a diverse group of people from varying backgrounds, forcing her to develop a healthy respect for opinions that are different from her own.

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William Counter is a sixteen year old Junior at Sampson High School in Las Vegas. He’s a handsome kid who gets good grades, is Secretary of the drama club and maintains a modest circle of very close friends. One of his friends recently gained easy access to marijuana through an older brother and started bringing it to parties and other small gatherings. William declined to smoke the first few times it was passed around but finally decided to try it in an attempt to impress a girl. William got stoned the first time he smoked it and later that night he had protected sex with the girl he was trying to impress. Tragically, both will always remember the night they first met as one of the best of their youth.

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Eight year old Tim Bennett of Los Angeles really loves Halloween. This year, he decided he wanted to dress as a devil. When he told his mom, a professional seamstress and clothing designer, she was thrilled and encouraged the idea. She crafted an elaborate costume complete with lighting and smoke effects. Sadly, the devil costume was extremely well received by Tim’s neighbors, resulting in the largest candy haul of his young life.

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Jenny Richardson is a confused fifteen year old growing up in Aurora, Colorado. As long as she can remember, she’s always been more attracted to girls than boys. She’s tried dating boys before, but she quickly loses interest and things end poorly. As she’s gotten older, she’s started dressing and acting more masculine and lots of kids at school are calling her “Jenny Dikerson” and “Butchy Richardson.” At a recent meeting with her guidance counselor, she was encouraged to explore her emerging feelings by visiting an activity group organized by local gay and lesbian teens. Unfortunately, after taking this advice, she will for the first time begin to feel loved and accepted by a group of her peers.

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