Strategies for Behavioral Change

Joseph T

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Few people assume they will die as a statistic. Few people place the priorities of their lives in a wise order. Instead, far too many grow numb to constant danger. Far too many place convenience ahead of safety.  Far too many die untimely deaths. One of the most notorious examples of  senseless tragedies in modern life is the epidemic of deadly automobile accidents among teenagers. The kind of behavioral change needed to stymie the death rate needs a strong, personal argument in order to blossom. Several emphases could be implemented in the near future in the American education system to initiate such a change. One would be an emphasis on the consequences of taking a life due to unimportant reasons. Teenagers should understand the piercing, resonant guilt of people who would give anything they owned to go back in time. Inviting such people to classrooms or driver education facilities could leave an impact a student would never feel from a textbook or video presentation. Stubborn students should be struck by imagining the gaze of a mother whose child they killed. Coming face to face with the effects of guilt in another person’s life could provide the stimulus needed to change day-to-day behavior. Students should also understand that they matter. They should know they matter to someone else, and that they have innate value. This incredibly simple truth has ramifications that pertain to many areas of life including driving behavior. Thus, recognizing that their lives are deeply precious, as are the lives of any strangers they meet, would give at least some students a new perspective on driving and stimulate them to change. Finally, American teens must understand that the manner in which they drive is a reflection on their character and self-discipline. Have they trained their minds to stay focused on the world around them, or are they subconsciously allowing their thoughts to drift away? Does the pregnant mother, retired grandfather, or hyper toddler in the car in front of them matter more to them than the text that they could answer later? Are they looking out for their fellow human beings? Honest answers to these questions provide glimpses into students’ worldviews and often initiate self-introspection and soul-searching. Many tools in the entourage of the American education system have failed to sway the minds of stubborn teenagers on this crucial issue. Yet employing these emphases could reach beyond their minds and strike the hearts. If that happens, teens across the country will find their reasons to change.