Giving Teens a Voice

Students' Last Words

Students’ Last Words about the Project and EMS

Comments about the Teen Think Tank … by the participants

This section is organized as follows:

Chris T, Age 17, Male, Senior
Matt T, Age 14, Male, Freshman
Daniel P, Age 17, Male, Senior
Adam S, Age 15, Male, Sophomore
Justin S, Age 15, Male, Sophomore
Danny G, Age 17, Male, Senior
Mark S., Age 15, Male, Sophomore
Erin R., Age 15, Female, Sophomore
Julie T., Age 15, Female, Sophomore
Sunday V., Age 16, Female, Junior
Catherine P., Age:17, Female, Senior
Crystal V., Age 16, Female, Junior
Adam S, Age 17, Male, Senior
Rod P., Adult, Male, Computer Consultant
Douglas R., Adult, Male, Neuropsychologist
Martin S., Adult, Male, Radiologist

Chris T, Age 17, Male, Senior
I've really enjoyed working on this topic of school violence without having to argue my side in order to get a word in. Much time was definitely saved in the process and the group actually stayed on task, which is really difficult to do in a regular meeting. Also, the anonymity is a wonderful feature that allows people to say things without having to worry about getting "knocked down." Overall, though, EMS has saved tons of time and effort in reaching a consensus. I'm really proud of the results. Really good things are going to come out of this system in the future.
I personally feel that this system is excellent in establishing an overall agreement within a group. I am proud of the results we came up with and feel that they might actually be put into effect and even save lives in schools. I hope that the results do "make a difference" in schools and in the way schools treat students and vice versa. It is past time to solve this problem of violence, but at least it is finally getting done. Now all that is left to do is to put these solutions into effect and hope that they do indeed diminish the violent activity. However, these solutions will not help unless everyone gets involved in such efforts. So it still is a "group effort" in imposing these solutions and without society's help, the necessary results needed will not be achieved.

Matt T, Age 14, Male, Freshman
I think that the EMS software satisfied my standards. It proved to be worthy of a good, organized, successful way of producing solutions in today's problems. I am sure that "school violence" will be solved soon because of such programs as this. The results were superior to what could have been completed in an argumentative manner among peers. I look forward to seeing what has been done in order to stop school violence.
Personally, I think that this project is a great success. It is a real time saver, which was valuable in this situation. The solutions will be phenomenal. School violence will soon be past tense.

Daniel P, Age 17, Male, Senior
The Teen Think Tank used the EMS to determine how school violence can be alleviated.  We were able to use the system to brainstorm on ideas that could be used to solve the problem.
The EMS was very helpful because the ideas brought out in the meeting were anonymous, so even the loudest and most outgoing person was at the same level as the quietest because each person could type out their ideas with anonymity insured.
Where unlike regular meetings where the loudest, most powerful person determines all the ideas expressed in the meeting, the EMS allows for everyone in the meeting to take part equally.
The system allowed for the brainstorming of ideas, the categorizing if the ideas brainstormed, and of the prioritization of the ideas into a readable report.  Hopefully with these sessions, the problem of violence in the schools can be resolved.
The kids involved were very intelligent and developed many ideas that could be used against school violence, but this group may not be best suited for the job.  A reason for this may be because none of us have ever lived or experienced violent situations.  The kids that need to be asked the question are the inner city kids who really have experienced the violence, or in actuality, any student who has gone to or is going to a school where violence persists.

Adam S, Age 15, Male, Sophomore
I think the Teen Think Tank was very effective in brainstorming ideas and coming up with possible solutions.  The anonymity was good because it gave shy people a chance to "voice" their ideas without the fear of someone making fun of them or discouraging the idea to their face.  There was a lot accomplished in these meetings.  The sessions were very controlled and since the brainstormed ideas were narrowed down and discussed by the whole group, time was used more efficiently rather than arguing points.
If this system could be implemented into society, it would be a very effective way to hold meetings such as board meetings, city council meetings, etc.
I liked the feeling that I was going to make a difference in societies dealing with school violence.  I hope that our comments can be effectively used throughout society for the better.
I learned a great deal about violence and how to avoid it.  I hope many other people can learn the same things and put these ideas to good use.
I think that this is a very good method for solving problems when they occur.  This was a very effective method of potentially dealing with the problem of school violence while maintaining a good friendly atmosphere.

Justin S, Age 15, Male, Sophomore
As a shy person, I really liked the anonymity of the program which allowed me to contribute to the discussion a lot - something I would normally be hesitant to do.
One thing that really boosted my experience was the feeling that we were actually contributing to a national concern.  It would be a shame to disregard all of the ideas that were expressed in the Teen Think Tank.  I hope all of the material produced will be thoroughly looked at and considered - who knows what improvements would come out of them?
The importance placed on solving the world's problems is expressed everyday; however, little is done to discuss possible solutions.  I believe that implementing a program similar to this one in a lot of meetings would really produce a wealth of ideas that could potentially be used to solve some of the problems.
I am a fairly opinionated person and most of the ideas that were discussed here I agreed with, but there are some ideas I felt needed expanding on.  I feel that the limited time we had to discuss school violence was a major hindrance in the creation of new ideas or discussion of old ones.  We merely scratched the surface of what could potentially be done to reduce school violence.  More time to discuss the matter would allow for the expansion of ideas and discussion of the validity and plausibility of the ideas.

Danny G, Age 17, Male, Senior
The Teen Think Tank on School Violence was a step in the right direction. Regardless of whether any solution springs from the efforts put into this affair, it is more the fact that it was done that is significant.
The use of the EMS system is very innovative and is a great boon to the brainstorming process. It is also very useful for organizing and evaluating ideas. However, I think that it should be used in conjunction with verbal discussion, rather than in place of it.
The fact that people are thinking about this situation is very positive. I would feel certain that no one involved in this Think Tank will ever commit an act of school violence. Evolving people in the process is very helpful in ensuring their cooperation.
While the anonymous submission system certainly helps to facilitate the free marketplace of ideas, I would hope that it doesn't become such an overriding concern that people are worried to speak up publicly for what they think.
It's great that that the people involved with organizing this Think Tank were willing to put in the effort that they did. Not only was it helpful to the students who participated, but hopefully it will be beneficial to society at large.

Mark S., Age 15, Male, Sophomore
The Teen Think Tank used the Electronic Meeting System or EMS.  This program allowed for the optimal results, and it did this with out being like any other meeting around.  Parallel input sped up the process tremendously.  Also, something that has always bothered me is the loud, powerful, controlling, person that runs the meeting, and because he controls the meeting, there is really no point in conducting the meeting other than to listen to the person's ideas which he/she has already decided is the answer.  The EMS eliminates that character.
I was referring to the loud, powerful, etc. person as the one who would control a "normal" meeting
I was thoroughly impressed with the Teen Think Tank results and procedure.  The entire process was fun and effective - a "happy medium."  I feel in participating in this procedure, I am making a difference, and I sincerely hope that I am.
I am a very opinionated person, and naturally, I think my views on things are correct.  I found this process ideally suited for dealing with people that are so stubborn.  The anonymous voting allows for the best idea, as viewed by the majority, to prevail. This feature is instrumental in eliminating the "less appropriate" solution or comment; yet at the same time, I personally feel that this part of the system may over-look the creative ideas and the lateral thinking ideas because the majority may not understand the unusual ideas, and therefore, not vote for it.
In conclusion, I feel that the process, product(EMS), and people involved did a marvelous job in attacking the issue of violence in schools as a whole....Not just focusing in on the issue of school shootings as I had feared might happen, and I hope you, the reader, does the same.  School violence is a very large issue encompassing murder, rape, sexual harassment, fighting, bullying, abuse from teachers/employees, favoritism that gets out of hand, etc., etc., etc. I hope you examine our work carefully...I think you will find it useful

Erin R., Age 15, Female, Sophomore
Dealing with violence is a very important and pressing issue in today's society. The Teen Think Tank is a wonderful program and was very helpful in our search for an answer for violence. Because the EMS system uses computers to conduct meetings instead of more conventional procedures, everybody has an equally important voice, and vast quantities of ideas can be processed quickly. The confidentiality of the system allowed the participants to voice their opinions without fear of being ridiculed or shunned. The EMS program was wonderful, as was the actual project it was being used for. Working with both adults and students broadened viewpoints and helped us gain a better understanding of how to identify, deal with, and prevent violence in school. While we may not have irradiated violence in schools during our brief time, our solutions and the system we used may hopefully one day be used to serve just that purpose.

Julie T., Age 15, Female, Sophomore
The Electronic Meeting System (EMS) is a very effective way of conducting meetings and conferences.  EMS allowed the TEEN THINK TANK to conduct its sessions with efficiency and allowed the participants to remain in blessed anonymity.  EMS is a wonderful system to work with and made a task which might have become tedious an enjoyable thing to do.
The participants of the TEEN THINK TANK came together with on objective in mind--to seek ways to prevent school violence.  I have seen many ideas that have shown profound insight and many ideas which are simple, but all of which could be used to solve our problem.  All we need is a chance to have our ideas heard, so please don't take one look at this and throw it in the trash.  Now that we teens have voiced our thoughts, we want them heard.

Sunday V., Age 16, Female, Junior
I feel that the Teen Think Tank on School Violence was an extremely valuable endeavor.  It is not only a technological process that can be applied to universal problems, but is also a way that truly demonstrates the American ideal of "all men are created equal." Using the anonymous system, everyone's ideas can be weighed according to the merit that the idea possesses, without the external influences of gender, race, social rank, etc.
This process is also immensely beneficial because it allows many options to be explored simultaneously. In turn, one person's idea can trigger a useful solution.  People can truly expand on ideas, and develop them to the fullest potential.
A final word about the actual technological process would be that it is an excellent way to really get input from a variety of people.  I feel this program could be further enhanced if a large network could be established where people all around the world could participate at the same time.  A moderator could still be used, via satellite.
I learned a great deal about possible solutions to violence.  It was especially helpful to work with others on a solution; one person can not come up with all the answers.  This particular group of people provided me with many new angles to view a very serious problem.
Though I enjoyed the process, I wish there could have been more time allotted to voting and refining.  I feel computer technology is invaluable, but does not completely compensate for human discussion.  I would like to have had more time to really discuss things, because humans are not machines, and to solve a problem, we must truly discuss the causes and effects.
I hope that we, as students, have accomplished much towards curbing violence in our schools, but this conference must not be the end of the project! To change the percent of school violence, we must ACT on what we have decided. All of the brainstorming in the world will not take the place of human action.  Though this technology is one of the best ways to come up with a solution, it is useless until actually implemented.

Catherine P., Age:17, Female, Senior
The use of EMS managed to take a group of rather talkative, opinionated people and allow all of theirs views to be expressed without any of the individuals dominating the group. The process is rather efficient, however after hours of brainstorming the process slows as the people involved become distracted and tired, just as in any other focused, intense environment. Overall, technologically speaking, this system is ideal for group sessions that place priority on ideas, not one individual's opinion, and effectively developing solutions due to its anonymity.
Personally, I found this Teen Think Tank an innovative way to solve one of the most important problems plaguing my age group, and thus, the future of the country. In 10 to 20 years we will be the administrators, teachers, parents and politicians that  will be forced to continue searching and developing ways to curb school, as well as, teen, violence. To ask "kids" for probable, reasonable solutions is a way to integrate the people most directly affected with society's attempts at a solution(s).
As far as our group is concerned, I feel that we do not adequately represent the school aged kids affected by school violence. Our school is of a middle class, predominantly white background, with little to no history of violence. Therefore, to make this think tank more effective, in the future, groups of kids who deal with violence everyday should be included, because our opinions are not based on experience(at least, mine are not).

Crystal V., Age 16, Female, Junior
Using the EMS is an effective way to discuss violence in the schools. This is anonymous so nobody is afraid to type what they are thinking.  EMS allows anonymous voting on topics which doesn't put pressure on the one person who may think differently to vote with the group.  As students, everyone here is faced with going to school with a chance of violence occurring. I'm glad that finally the students are asked about their opinions on this subject.
EMS allows a lot of people to give their ideas at the same time. It's less confusing than verbally trying to make everyone hear your opinions. Also, you can branch an idea off someone else's.  I'm not the type of person that speaks frequently in class. In fact, I basically only speak when I'm spoken to. By using EMS, I was able to get my opinions heard.

Adam S, Age 17, Male, Senior
I have participated for a number of years in a process called future problem solving.  This is a very formulaic process designed to help students think creatively and on a broad base of issues.  When I first heard about EMS I thought it would just be a computerized version of the same process.
It surprised me though when I participated in this project and realized how many people can work together in this method without there being so many clashes between personalities and ideas.  This process deserves more credit than I originally gave it.  This kind of technology could be easily used to improve the educational environment in different school settings.

Rod P., Adult, Male, Computer Consultant
I served as the assistant to the Project Manager and Facilitator, Mr. Brice Marsh.  My primary effort was to bring the team together and to serve as a sounding board for structuring the project.
It's been intriguing to bring these kids together for this process.  We originally sent letters to 42 students and 16 responded.  We had 4 adults who wanted to be involved.
The process of brainstorming, categorizing, summarizing, ranking, expanding, and formatting results, always done as a consensus of the group, was enthusiastically adopted and executed by the group.
We really had no idea of the conclusion and the adults made every effort to stay separated from the students in the processes so that the results were as much the work of the students as possible.
We have exceptional students.  Would this process work for other groups?  Probably.  The speed of adaptation and creativity might be less than we experienced but the results should be just as reliable.
The original premise of the project was that the educators, law enforcement, psychologists, and all sorts of professionals were looking at the question of school violence and nobody was asking the kids who faced the problem every day.  This premise was echoed by several comments that were made both within and outside the project.  We wanted the kids to have their opinions heard.
And heard they have been.  The results of the project have been published in this paper and the raw ideas have been included in the appendices.  We hope that the ideas will be viewed with the enthusiasm and receptivity that they are offered.

Douglas R., Adult, Male, Neuropsychologist
The Premier Teen Think Tank format provides an excellent vehicle for creative problem solving, where all participants are afforded equal opportunity to express their thoughts in an open and non judgmental environment.  The strength of this technique lays in the ability to generate a large data base of independent ideas.  It's relative weakness would appear to be in the area of data summation, which either relies on open discussion (which can be time consuming), or on the use of frequency counts which can be potentially misleading when significant item overlap appears or where there is significant diversity in terms of response ratings.  Although the use of statistical information such as mean(s) and standard deviation were used to help in this endeavor, it must be remembered that this information was based upon a leiter scale and is limited by it's statistical properties.  Therefore, the information generated by this process should be viewed more in terms of the qualitative aspects of the data, i.e., the specific responses generated by the teen participants.  A logical and necessary extension of this project would be to replicate this process with different student populations, i.e., rural vs urban; middle school vs high school; and perhaps a population of "offenders" vs non offenders.

Martin S., Adult, Male, Radiologist
The Teen Think Tank on school violence (July 11 and 17, 1998) was a fascinating experience.  Several teenagers and a few adults discussed this very controversial subject using the Electronic Meeting Systems technology.  Ideas were submitted anonymously by the participants on a variety of topics dealing with the school violence.  These individuals worked continuously for several hours at a time very diligently, never straying from the topic.  Consensus was reached on the ideas using a democratic voting format.  Each individual was free to express his/her own ideas without fear of embarrassment or ridicule.  The amount of material that was listed and discussed was tremendous and could not have been compiled using a traditional meeting format.  I believe that all the participants really enjoyed this endeavor and many pertinent ideas and suggestions were generated using the EMS format.
The ideas that were developed by this group of students from the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School had a great deal of insight into the problem of school violence.  One comment that was particularly interesting was, "They ask the teachers, administrators, politicians and law enforcement officials about school violence.  Why don't they ask the students?  We live it on a daily basis."  It is time that we ask the students their feelings on this subject and involve all facets of the community to develop real solutions to this real problem.  It would be interesting to offer this type of technology to teenagers and pre-teens from inner city schools and rural schools to see what their ideas and feelings are.
Overall, this meeting on school violence using the EMS format was excellent and should be used as a platform for expansion.

Copyright 1999-2000, Teen Think Tanks of America, Inc.  All rights reserved.