STEVE WILKOS SHOW Tackles Teen Issues, 11/12
On Friday, November 12, THE STEVE WILKOS SHOW welcomes more than 150 teens, between the ages of 14 and 17, from across the country to the Stamford, CT studio, where the show tapes, to talk candidly about social issues affecting their generation, including teen pregnancy, binge drinking, domestic violence and bullying.
"For two years in a row, I've dedicated my studio to teen girls and the issues affecting them today. Every year the stories are shocking, emotional and raw," says Wilkos. "Today, this is their forum. I want to give them [boys and girls] an opportunity to voice their opinion, tell their stories and share their struggles."
In this special episode, Wilkos addresses a number of young teens in troubled circumstances, including 15-year-old transgender William "Selena" Milligan. She says she is bullied for her sexual orientation. She says she came to the show to stand up for the recent teens that committed suicide due to bullying and to be a voice and support for other gay teens who feel they are alone.
With regards to the recent deaths, Selena says, "Kids are committing suicide. It's a permanent fix to a temporary problem."
Recently, a student from Rutgers University, in New Jersey, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after fellow classmates allegedly streamed live video of him in a sexual encounter with another man.
Wilkos tells Selena, "I wish I could give anything that I'd be driving over that bridge and I could have stopped him and said, 'Hey, come here and talk to me. It's not worth giving your life away. Stand up to the bully.'"
Inspired by Selena's story, a teenage boy stands up in the audience and says, "I've been bullied and teased since day one since I came out, and to tell you the truth, it's made me a stronger person...I want to thank you for being a strong person, because at the end of the day, the people that are teasing us...they couldn't last a day in our shoes."
Also appearing on the show is 17 year-old Sara Simons, who just had her second child and says that her boyfriend is physically and verbally beating her.
"He has choked me while I was pregnant. He has thrown things at me. When I was pregnant with this baby I just had, we were arguing and I was standing behind the door and he opened the door and slammed it into my stomach," says Sara. She says she was too scared to tell anyone though, thinking that her first daughter would be taken away.
Sara says she and her boyfriend, Halbert, have been together for four years. Sara says Halbert accused her of cheating while in school, therefore, Sara dropped out in 7th grade. Sara has never told her mom, Debbie, about the abuse and hopes to share with her that Halbert abused her while she was pregnant.
After seeing this story, one audience member stands up to comment and confessed that that he physically abused his sister, who was also in the studio with him.
He turns to his sister and says, "I wanted to apologize for giving you concussions, hitting you, I apologize."
Wilkos tells the teenage boy, "If these shows and these stories impact young people like you, and you realize you are doing wrong and can apologize to your sister...that's the whole point of doing this show."
Katie Hewitt, 17, a senior in high school, who says she binge drinks four times a week, speaks out about her nightly habit. She says she drinks 84 ounces of alcohol a night and blacks out every time. On average, more than five million teenagers report binge drinking at least once a month.
Last year, Katie says she chose to drink and drive and ended up crashing her car and breaking her hip in seven places, which confined her to a wheel chair for several months.
Steve asks Katie if she is ever concerned about alcohol poisoning or even dying. Katie responds, "No, I usually go to bed before I drink too much."
Alyssa Alexander also 17, a representative of Shelby's Rules Foundation, an alcohol poisoning education foundation for teens, comes to speak to Katie as well, warning her about the dangers of binge drinking. In 2008, Alyssa says she and her best friend, Shelby Lyn Allen, made the decision to binge drink and eventually pass out because of it. Alyssa tells Katie, "Shelby died that night and I was there with her. I was so drunk I couldn't help her. Alcohol is not something fun to do."
The parents and/or guardians of the teens watched the show from a separate screening area.
THE STEVE WILKOS SHOW, currently in its 4th season in national syndication, is distributed by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution and taped in front of a live studio audience in Stamford, CT. Rachelle Wilkos is the Executive Producer.