Young people are a vital asset to communities all around the world. They bring their families happiness through sports and the arts. Some work while attending school to help provide for their families. While young people are a multifaceted population group, they are often exposed to extreme levels of violence. According to the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, more than 60 percent of children from birth to age 17 experience victimization, while 38 percent witness violence sometime during their childhood. Over the course of their childhood and adolescent years, 71 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds suffer assault; 28 percent sexual victimization; 32 percent abuse or neglect; and 53 percent property victimization, including robbery.

The time to act is now, and we need all hands on board to help create safe environments for the next generation of young people. Family socialization, which includes parental control and support, has always played an important role in reducing the likelihood of adolescent involvement in conflict and violence. We need parents, guardians and caretakers to pay closer attention to their loved ones to ensure that their safety is being accounted for. Educating and getting your children involved in after-school and nonviolence programs and in school-related extracurricular activities significantly reduces the probabilities that young people will engage in violent activity and become victims of violent crime.

Dustin Thomforde, Fridley.

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Violence begets violence. A free society embracing freedom of speech, assembly and religion struggles with the reality of said freedoms. No matter how vile, racist, bigoted, hate-filled and intolerant a member of a free society is, they have the same freedoms as the tolerant, unbiased and forgiving member of a free society. Charlottesville reinforces the purpose of the inclusion by the Founding Fathers of the freedom of speech, assembly and religion in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Agree or disagree, that is your freedom. Those originally set to assemble near the statue of Robert E. Lee were there to protest the statue’s potential removal. The groups lawfully submitted for permits and were granted permission to assemble. When a counterassembly was brought to light, then the original assembly was deemed unlawful. While I completely disagree with the message of bigotry, intolerance and hate, I do acknowledge that in a free society they are afforded the same freedom of speech, assembly and religion that any other Americans are.

Did those protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue come looking for violence? Perhaps. Did those coming to counter the assembly come looking for violence? Perhaps. Just as oil and vinegar don’t play nice together, neither do the groups that assembled in Charlottesville. Violence begets violence.

Christopher Lund, Hamburg

RESTRICTING DEBT

Nonprofit can help those with predatory, payday loans

I read with interest the Star Tribune report of the Minnesota attorney general’s lawsuit against two companies that pressured vets and seniors to take out “pension advances,” a type of predatory loan that charges annual percentage rates of 200 percent and can last for up to 10 years (“Lenders accused of exploiting military veterans, seniors,” Aug. 17).

Sadly, there are other types of loans in Minnesota that are completely legal but just as predatory. Payday loans are charging, legally, even higher interest rates — oftentimes well over 300 percent and even up to 1000 percent interest. These short-term loans are often taken out by people who have been turned away from other lenders and who feel they have no other options for borrowing money. Sadly, these borrowers, too, get trapped in a financial situation from which there is no easy escape.

Such predatory loans should be restricted and financial institutions should develop fair and affordable products for smaller-dollar loans. In South Dakota last November, the voters passed a referendum to cap interest rates on payday loans to 36 percent. Exodus Lending is a Minnesota nonprofit that would support such an interest rate cap. In the meantime, borrowers need to be relieved of their payday loan debt burdens. Exodus Lending refinances payday loans of Minnesotans, charging no interest or fees to the borrowers.

Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director of Exodus Lending.

OIL PIPELINE

Enbridge pipeline process seems to be target of endless delay

It is important and necessary to closely examine methods currently in place to transport our natural resources — specifically, crude oil. This process serves to protect the public interest to ensure that all concerns are practically addressed. In following the Enbridge proposal to replace the aging Line 3, running at 51 percent of capacity, a different narrative is becoming very evident. Those who oppose the recovery and use of the natural resource are using the process to infinitely delay the final decision. Multiple “stakeholders” have the right to express concern, but at some point in the process, the spirit of public review has been overplayed. In the article “Pipeline plans would harm Indians most, review finds” (Aug. 18), it is stated that the American Indian bands’ position is that there are no good pipeline routes.

Is that the purpose of the permitting process, considering there are multiple lines running parallel in the same area? It is increasingly evident that objective scrutiny in these matters has changed into abject rejection. Is this our new approach to resolving issues? If so, it is counterproductive.

Joe Polunc, Cologne

RESTORING NAMES

‘Lake Calhoun’ is a different ball of wax than monuments

A letter writer makes a subtle error of false equivalency in an otherwise laudable call for reasonable public dialogue on removing politically charged public monuments (“Charlottesville and revisionism,” Readers Write, Aug. 16). The debate over removing Confederate monuments is different from the restoration of Bde Maka Ska, one of the names the Dakota people used for the lake still legally known as Calhoun, pending further action. Restoration of something taken away has a higher moral claim than deleting a monument.

Another letter writer, former Park Board Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom, exhorts the Star Tribune to adopt Bde Maka Ska, ignoring that the legal process for restoring the name needs county, state and federal approval to become official. A newspaper of record should follow the name of record. Once the U. S. Board on Geographic Names approves the change, I suspect the Star Tribune will adopt it. Meanwhile, all of us are free to use Bde Maka Ska on our own schedule, although I suspect it will take until our grandchildren’s generation for the restored name to gain widespread usage.

STEVE BRANDT, Minneapolis

STAR-SPANGLED BANNER

My flag, a symbol

O, say can you see? The American flag flies over my house. I sing the anthem loudly and salute it, hand over heart. It will cover my casket and be folded and given to those I leave behind. More than that, my service was given for those who choose to sit or kneel while I’m singing, as well as for those who stand. The flag is not the nation. It is a symbol. When the nation falls short of the symbol, or when the symbol is dirtied by racism, Nazi horror or white supremacy, the citizens harmed have a right to demand we work together to clean it up, before they salute. Otherwise, our flag is only tissue paper melting in the storm. When my flag gets dirty, it can stand up to a good washing.

John Widen, Minneapolis