“It Gets Better” is another version of “Just Say No.”

During the 1980’s, Nancy Reagan promoted her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. And though she travelled over 250,000 miles, appeared on Diff’rent Strokes, and was seen in a music video, the campaign failed, and drug abuse among teens increased. Her misguided thoughts can be summed up in her famous remark: “If you can save just one child, it’s worth it.”

Nope….that’s a bad success rate by any standard, Nancy.

During the same time, studies were going on at UC Berkeley that proved that the “Just Say No” campaign was going to increase drug use among young people. Numerous studies among atheletes (with steroids), vacationers (with sunscreen), or children (with cookie jars) had already proven that saying “no” actually increases interest toward such taboos.

Nancy’s pet project was actually a short sighted waste of air miles. She barely touched upon the primal causes of drug use which included, but were not limited to, family dissolution, poverty, unemployment, AND her husband’s lack of interest in limiting the introduction of drugs to the United States via our Southern and Northern borders (inhale).

I digress: The “Just Say No” campaign was sweet and caring, but it ran counter to human nature and it may have actually increased teen drug use.

Is it possible that our well-meaning, “It gets better”, campaigns are just as ineffectual?

I keep thinking about a happy Wildebeest, sipping water from the relative safety of a water hole at the END of his migration as he calls his buddies, at the beginning of their journey, to remind them that “it gets better”. Sadly, the Wildebeest fails to remind them that there are 10,000 hungry predators, 15 swollen tributaries, several forms sleeping sickness, poachers, desert conditions, and the largest form of  “just say no” for a Wildebeest…Fences, between them and the END.

“Don’t worry guys. It gets better!”

Pip-pip, and cheerio, bitchez!

Suicide rates among gay, lesbian, and transgender teens are dictated, in the largest sense, by the same factors that contribute to suicide rates for all ages and genders. The difference being that homosexual teens have more risk factors and fewer protections than heterosexual youths. In most cases, if not all, the homosexual that commits suicide lacked family support, safe school settings, and a severe lack of spiritual support. Even though the Bible has three lovely same sex relationships within it’s pages, there are far more passages devoted to the evils of homosexuality.

Many people’s actions against homosexuals are religiously based. So we can assume that the average homosexual has the usual socioeconomic factors that lead to suicide (or the attempt), but then we can acknowlege additional forms of alienation like family, community, and church. It won’t get better until we change those paradigms. It won’t get better until we actually work to defeat the social constraints on the mental well being of our people.

ACTUALLY, it only “get’s better” for those that get through it. And though the campaign for things getting better is absolutely the right thing to say, it has about as much effect as the “just say no” campaigns of the 1980’s. There’s very little “doing in the saying”.

Nothing EVER ‘gets better’ with just a slogan.

The focus should be placed upon familial acceptance, religious tolerance, and cross cultural understandings, and then we have to follow through, as a society, on MAKING it better.

A slogan tends to end up in one very common place: It takes on a life of it’s own. So if you truly want something to get better, don’t just say it – DO it.


5 responses

  1. I saw a few remarks about the success of “Just Say No” on our Facebook Links here is one of them:

    “”Um… teen drug use dropped substantially in the 80s, by 50-70% depending on which studies you cite. It’s hard to have any credibility attacking “little white lies” when you can’t do basic fact-checking.”

    • scopeblog.stanford.edu (Keith Humphreys):
      “According to the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been tracking teen drug use since the 1970’s, “The improvement so far is very modest, but at least the troublesome trends observed through most of the 1990’s have begun to reverse direction.” The troublesome trend is in reference to six years of steady increases in drug use among teenagers between 1991 and 1996.”

      This is a direct result of the preemptive failure of ALL of the Reagan policies on drugs:

      “Rhetorical pledges and war proclamations aside, however, at
      the end of President Reagan’s watch, the United States was losing the war on virtually evely front. Illicit drugs of all types -especially
      marijuana, cocaine, and heroin -were more readily available
      and cheaper in the United States in January 1989 than they
      had been at the outset of the Reagan Presidency in 1981. Drug use
      and abuse in US society had increased dramatically over the 1980~~
      and the US drug market remained the biggest and most lucrative
      in the world (GAO, 1988: 3-18). Drug-related crimes and violence
      had reached epidemic proportions in many US cities, greatly exacerbated by the introduction and rapid spread of a highly addictive
      form of cocaine known as “crack”.


  2. Policies, like “Just Say No”, aren’t supposed to take the teens of 1985 into the drug spikes of the late 80’s and early, to mid, 90’s…and it certainly should have lasted in the minds of those that now make up the largest population of drug users in the history of this country.

  3. During one of these very poignant commercials, I couldn’t help but think that the average 15yo homosexual male (it’s my perception, based on no facts whatsoever, that males are picked on more than females – perhaps it is the deep south only) is thinking to himself, “WHATEVER! It will only get better when I’m 25 and out of my parents house, out of this school and away from these people, but till then, this is HELL!”. All it takes is spending any length of time with a teen and you realize that all they care about is themselves (perfect egocentrism) and what is going on RIGHT NOW.

    The teenage brain isn’t developed enough to really grasp the concept of the future – precisely why that age is more likely to commit suicide! They can’t totally see or comprehend the results of their actions…death, devestated parents, friends etc…! So how is it that a campaign based on promises about something in the future going to work well?

  4. What a perfect take on this! I completely agree, since I was pretty self centered in my teens too. I certainly wouldn’y have listened to “It’ll get better” either. It would have been a big WHATEVER!

    Other friends have also pointed out that many of these poignant commercials are just serving the narcissism of the people doing the commercial.

    Your post was very-much to the point.

    You wrote: “The teenage brain isn’t developed enough to really grasp the concept of the future – precisely why that age is more likely to commit suicide!”

    We need to develop a way to reach that brain.

    Thanks for the post!

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