Regarding the Sept. 15 letter, "Compassion is lacking among today's youth":

As an educator for more than 30 years, I have seen many more young people who are compassionate than those who are not.

I am not naive enough to think that every young person has been taught and practices empathy; I've seen my share of students who, for many reasons, cannot grasp the concept. However, the vast majority of the children I've come into contact with have demonstrated an ability to show kindness and compassion.

I agree with the letter writer that we all need to mentor young people, and in the Cape May County Special Services School District we do just that. Understanding that children sometimes need to be led in the direction of service, our teachers developed the Cape Kids Care program for students at Ocean Academy and Cape May County High School.

The students clean beaches, visit veterans at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland, assist in getting a Cape May retreat house ready for visitors, offer companionship to the residents of Crest Haven Nursing Home, provide landscaping services for Habitat for Humanity, and assist people who are ill.

At Cape Educational COMPACT, a high school for at-risk teens, students volunteer to be a part of the Do-Gooders Club and serve the community in a variety of ways.

I have seen students who might by some standards be considered "tough" kids demonstrate a gentle compassion and love that brings tears to my eyes. I refuse to paint all young people with the broad brush that includes Miley Cyrus and others who are desperate for attention. Every generation has lamented the teen culture gone amok. I, for one, will continue to focus on the really great kids who are all around us.


Egg Harbor Township

Barbara J. Makoski is superintendent of the Cape May County Special Services School District.

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