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Bristol DA emphasizes respect in talk with New Bedford middle-schoolers

From The Standard Times
By Curt Brown
February 4, 2016

NEW BEDFORD — Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III’s message Wednesday to students at the Roosevelt Middle School was simple and direct — be respectful.

“You all have something to offer. You may not know what it is right now,” he said, while emphasizing the value of positive attitudes, respecting themselves, and most of all, treating others with respect.

Quinn told about 25 at-risk sixth, seventh and eighth graders in a North Star Learning program that many of their peers do not believe they have something to offer.

Dolly Duarte, the program coordinator, said the students are considered at-risk based on a number of factors, including their neighborhoods, failing grades and home issues. The majority of the students in the program also do not have fathers at home.

Despite an admitted “soft spot” in his heart for young people, Quinn said society must have rules to preserve order and the consequences for teens of breaking those laws today are greater than ever before.

“We have a problem with guns in this country. Young people being shot by guns,” he said. “People who carry guns, nothing good will come of that.”

He also urged them to stay away from drugs, and if they slip, “get yourself past it,” he said.

“I come here as a friend who would prefer not to see anyone in court,” he said.

Quinn talked about his personal dislike for people — teens and adults — who spent hours texting on their phones. “Having your phone out all the time is mindless,” he said.

“I literally think the cellphone is addictive,” he said, then jokingly offering his phone to the students to carry around for a couple of days. “You will have to answer it though. There’s no tic, tac, toe.”

Many teens have inappropriate messages and texts on their phones and there are penalities for transmitting that material to others, he said, touching on another relevant issue with teens. “Be careful what you send. Respect yourself,” he said.

He urged the students to avoid feeling a sense of entitlement, while urging them to establish a strong work ethic and “show up” at whatever they decide to do.

“Just try to be decent to people. Build people up, don’t tear them down,” he said.

Original source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160203/NEWS/160209737