SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS: The Choices You Make in Your Life Make Your Life

This week marks the beginning of a new venture for Michael and CHARACTER COUNTS! — an effort to directly engage high school and middle school students in thinking and discussing ethical issues on a wide range of topics relevant to their lives through a series of specially adapted commentaries for teens.

The program, called “Something to Think About,” is currently being piloted in the Downey Unified School District in Southern California, and is reaching approximately 14,000 students. In the pilot, two “Something to Think About” commentaries are aired each week on the school’s public address system as part of daily announcements. Student and staff feedback will be gathered.

We are considering applications from other schools across the country interested in participating in the pilot. The technology is very simple — simply download an Mp3 file. If you are interested, please let us know at 

Our goal is to introduce this service to all high school and middle schools in the nation at no charge commencing in August. The STTA Commentaries will be available each week in the What Will Matter newsletter, on this blog, on the What Will Matter app for smart phones and as podcasts on iTunes. Please listen or read the commentaries and give us your feedback.

Without further ado, here is the in inaugural SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT Commentary for Teens. Please enjoy.

This is Michael Josephson with Something to Think About.

In Florida, two young men, eager to win the admiration of fraternity brothers, removed a stop sign and brought it back as a trophy. In Tennessee, a couple of teenagers were at a party in a high rise apartment, and one dared the other to slide down the trash chute in the hall. The Florida boys were convicted of manslaughter after a fatal accident occurred at the intersection without the stop sign. The boy who slid down the trash chute was killed by an automatic trash compactor and his friend was left with guilt and grief.

What do these situations have in common? Lives were ended and others were ruined because fun-seeking teenagers made really bad choices.

I worry that each of you lives in a much more dangerous world than you may know. It’s so easy to damage yourself physically or emotionally by reckless conduct, including drugs, alcohol, unsafe sex, or getting involved with irresponsible, manipulative, cruel, or selfish people.

One area I will discuss in future commentaries is decision making and the need to think about the possibility of unintended consequences. I will also talk about the difference between being smart and being wise. As these stories reveal, smart people often make really dumb decisions.

These examples also illustrate a time-tested wisdom: “You can dodge your responsibilities, but you can’t dodge the consequences of dodging your responsibilities.”

In the coming weeks, I hope I can give you some tools to help you steer clear of life-changing mistakes and that you will come to trust me as a truly caring advisor.

Please give me your feedback on this and other commentaries.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

You can receive these commentaries by e-mail each week by subscribing at our newsletter signup page,  you also can receive them each day (along with videos and all other contents of Michael Josephson’s What Will Matter blog) by downloading our app for smart phones. Finally, you can subscribe to the podcasts from iTunes.

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