Glendale Motel, photo by the author

The Lost Kids of Armenian America, Part 1

by | June 28th, 2010 | 53 comments
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This is the first in a series of articles addressing the problems facing Armenian-Americans in Southern California.

“Every Armenian girl I know is a slut, a whore or she wants to kill herself,” a 19-year-old Armenian boy tells me in the parking lot of a Glendale motel late on a Friday night. “It’s really sad. I wish I could do something to help,” he says as the smoke wafts from his mouth. It’s an unusually chilly fifty degrees out, and he stands there almost chain-smoking under the multilayered lights of this little big city we call Glendale. As we talk, fixed-up cars race (quite literally) by. What am I saying back to him? I’m encouraging him to pursue his education. He dropped out of high school and now he’s jumping from one scam to another, trying to get paid–to make money. My case manager, Saro, and I both agree that this is one engaging young man with a unique gift for talking to people and what seems to be a caring soul.

I tell him to go get that GED and then go to college. Saro says, “You should be doing my job.”

The young man is surprised. “But you need a high school diploma or a GED to do your job, huh?” he asks. “No,” I say, “you need a college degree, but if you had one, I’d hire you.”

My name is Ara Arzumanian. I am the director of AGBU’s Generation Next Mentorship Program.

Saro Ayvazian is a case manager in the program — also an employee of the AGBU. What, you might ask, are we doing in the parking lot of a Glendale motel around midnight on a Saturday?

The answer is: our job. A 13-year-old girl had run away from home — again. Her mother called us, and we jumped into action. We were able to track her to this motel. Finding her was the easy part. The tricky part was going in to get her.

Nearly every day, someone asks me what the number-one problem facing our Armenian youth in Southern California is, and every time I have trouble answering that question.  The problems are many. The root causes are complex. The solutions are elusive. The community is, for the most part, in a deep state of denial. Those that are not in denial are transfixed by the scope of the problem.

Recently I was asked by my superiors at AGBU to prepare a one-page summary on Generation Next’s progress over the last year — a seemingly simple task that ended up shocking even me. One portion of that report listed the various issues we have assisted youth with over the last year. My case managers and I sat down and started writing up a list off the top of our heads. When I looked at the final list and thought about the fact that we only have 90 kids in our program and we are only talking about 12 months of activity, even I — whos deal with this stuff every day — was somewhat jarred to see all those issues lined up next to each other. Here is that list:

  • Runaway
  • Theft / Robbery
  • Criminality / Incarceration / Probation
  • Family dysfunction
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Cyber-bullying
  • Difficulty paying rent
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Abuse
  • Fighting
  • Autism
  • Risky online behaviors
  • Neglect
  • School expulsion
  • Dating older men / sexual assault
  • Mental health
  • Drug use
  • School dropout
  • Body issues / self-image
  • Self- injury / cutting
  • Drug sales
  • Gangs
  • Truancy
  • Unemployment
  • Alcohol use

For those in the know, this raises another question: How do you find out about these things? You see, as Armenians, we have some particular characteristics that make serving our population particularly difficult. The word I’m thinking is khaytarak (roughly translated as disgrace or dishonor). Speaking in generalizations, it is part of our national makeup to hide our problems — a kind of death-before-dishonor mentality. No one wants to talk about their family issues. Parents are nearly expert at concealing the issues that they and their children are facing.

So if you know how to look, and do it diligently, you can see the symptoms (e.g. those listed above). But you really have to know what you’re doing to uncover the root causes. All of this secrecy results in a relatively peaceful and benign impression.

When you drive through Glendale, it’s not like driving through a ghetto. You won’t see with your naked eye evidence of all the social ills plaguing the place. You need to dig in. You need to get in deep and see what’s going on. That’s where we come in. A good place to start is the parks.

Glendale has tons of mini parks. The City of Glendale is working hard at raising its green space-to-people ratio. So, to do this, they build tiny parks in neighborhoods throughout the city. On any given day, if you head to one of these mini parks, you will  find a group of Armenian boys (trying desperately to be men) gambling and smoking cigarettes (and maybe weed).

“Look! Look at what I got.” A boy shows off his wares. A productive day of shoplifting has produced a couple of Coach wallets. He brags about how he was able to remove the ink-filled anti-theft devices without setting them off. His friends demand the secret of his technique. He beams at their admiration. He’ll have no problem selling those bags in our materialistic community, where the right purse or the right car says more about who you are than your grades or whether or not you have a high school diploma.

These mini parks raise the city’s green-space ratio, but they do little to bring together community (that’s what parks are supposed to do.) Some parks, with their abundant and comfortable seating, are the exclusive domain of Armenian senior citizens.

Our grandmas and grandpas don’t present our kids with much of a positive role model, however. They sit there for hours, smoking, gambling and gossiping. Armenian teenagers ask them for a papyrus (cigarette) and usually get a lecture, followed sometimes by a cigarette.

Other parks with their colorful playgrounds attract mothers with small children. Most all of the parks are places where teenagers find trouble. The thing about teenagers is that you can’t provide environmental factors which will make them do positive things on their own. You can’t build a playground for them. Even a gym, a teen center or a skate-park isn’t enough. You need programming — that is to say, you need to hire staff which can create relationships with kids.

Teenagers are in between adulthood and childhood. So you can’t speak to them like children. But, of course, you can’t treat them like adults either. As a community, we must understand two things: the first is that all teenagers want to improve their lives and do what is good for themselves; the second is that it is the natural inclination of teenagers not to do that on their own. They require adult guidance in their lives. If they do not find positive, relevant adult guidance, they will surely find negative yet relevant adult guidance. The City, however, doesn’t believe in programming for teenagers. They just build a park and work at ways to prevent graffiti. They look at how they can make the park safe and well-lit. We, on the other hand, use the parks in ways that the City had not intended.

Pull up. Get out of the car. Walk through a cloud of smoke into a group of teenagers you don’t know. They look at you suspiciously. The more wounded ones among them accost you with a hardened stare meant to intimidate you. If you’re doing your job right, one or two of them will have already heard of or met you. Introduce yourself. Talk to them. Make friends. Remember their names. Find out who is on probation, who has tickets, who has court dates coming up, what schools they go to, who has home-schooling, who bought a diploma, who doesn’t have a social security number, whose dad is being deported, who just got arrested, who just got out, who has a brother that’s still in. You ask: “Who’s looking for a job?” Everyone answers, “Me!” Get phone numbers. Try not to catch a contact high. Have a few laughs. Come back to the office.

That’s how you do youth outreach. That’s part of Saro’s job description. My job description? Make Saro’s job possible.

Back at the office, the phone rings. Luiza Baloyan, our other case manager, answers. “It’s Taniel. He got picked up last night for selling weed. He’s in Juvi [Juvenile Hall].”

“He’s in Juvi?” I ask.

“Yeah, it’s a probation violation.”

“Tell him Talar’s older brother is in there too. They know each other. He’s gonna need all the help he can get.”

When Luiza gets off the phone with Taniel, she calls his parents. What happened? What do they know? Which court are they appearing in, 270 or 271? Are they taking a private lawyer or a public defender? What time should we meet them there?

So now it’s Tuesday and I’m sitting in the offices of Homeboy Industries with one of the young men that I met at the motel Friday night, helping him try to find work. Is this part of my job? Not really. He’s not in our program, but he is in our community. He is one of our Armenian kids — well, I suppose kid is a loose term; you see, he’s 20 years old. A question may arise in your mind: ‘What was a 20-year-old doing in a motel room on a Friday night with a 13-year-old girl?’ That’s a good question, but let me pose a better one: ‘What was a 23-year-old man doing there?’ In all, there were six guys in that room and three girls. The ages ranged from 13 to 23. They were Beirutsi, Hayastantsi, Parskahye etc. There was alcohol and cigarettes, and maybe drugs–I’m not sure.

What exactly happened at that motel? We had tracked the 13-year-old runaway there, but finding her was the easy part. What’s next? We go in. Of course there’s a lot to think about. You have to have done this before. You need to be fully aware of your surroundings. You need to be respectful, confident, sincere and without trepidation. We walk into the crowd of boys hanging out on the catwalk outside the room. I shake each hand on the way in — it’s a cultural understanding that you need to have. It’s a respect for people, without which you endanger everyone involved. We knock on the door, it opens up and she’s standing across the room. I say hello to the 23-year-old standing at the doorway trying hard to stare me down. I say hello to the two 18-year-olds waiting to see what’s going to happen. I look past them to our girl and I say, “Come here.” As she does, a drunk 20-year-old sitting at a card table in front of the TV bursts out of his seat, yelling, “Ara! Ara!”  He rushes at me with his arms raised and brings them down around my neck, giving me a warm hug.

I know this kid from years ago when I was doing outreach at Palmer Park. He was one of the ones who got away. I ask him how his brother is doing. He tells me that he’s slated to get out in January. “That makes about six years, doesn’t it?” I ask. He nods sullenly. As I stand over the threshold of the room talking to him and learning the names of the other boys there–finding out their stories — I nudge our girl out onto the catwalk where Saro stands at my side. I give Saro a nod, and he understands immediately. He and the girl walk downstairs into the parking lot. I stay up here and get to know every kid in the place. As I’m talking, I text Saro: “Leave with her, if you can.” At one point I ask, “Who’s looking for a job?” and everyone answers, “Me!” The conversation goes on for a long time. I have to keep all six boys and both girls engaged with me long enough for Saro and our girl to leave without interruption. I get a couple of phone numbers, hand out some business cards and just talk. After a few minutes I get Saro’s response: “We’ve left.” I nonchalantly slip the phone back into my pocket and keep talking. Within a few minutes I start making my exit. On my way, I give one of the boys a ride home — a bright 17-year-old with an infectiously happy personality who’s getting ready to graduate from high school. If I hadn’t given him a ride, one of his drunk friends would have. Ultimately we got our girl home that night, but who says home is a safe place?

This girl’s story is not at an end — it’s just the beginning. We have made a commitment to her, and she has made a commitment to AGBU. We plan to be with her for a long time to come. This is just one child. There are other children out there who need our (the community’s) direct involvement in their lives — there are thousands of them. The community’s response to this need, however, is lackadaisical and lackluster. From what I can tell, the community’s response consists of denial, absence, silence and dereliction of responsibilities. There’s a lot going on in our community that only a tiny group of people know about. I’m going to try to give you a look into that world. This is your first step. I hope you’ll join in the weeks to come …


  1. Annie says:

    Hi ,

    I read it and i’m sorry to hear it , I’m a mother too ofcourse my daughter is just 6 years old but i like to read your articles and comments … for my kid’s future.


  2. Shakeh says:

    I read it and cried. I whish more of US would not stick our head in the sand or worry about Khaitarak.
    Thank you for the article. Your writings will help open our eyes to our problems……

  3. Diran says:

    Thank you for the article, i know it is only scratching the surface, and it calls on us to do more for our youth and community.

  4. Sergio says:

    I am very disappointed to read your story. I am an Armenian who came to the U.S. over 50 years ago from Egypt. I had no financial resources and had to work very hard to go to college and get a degree in Engineering. I now live in an area which has very few Armenians so I do not have much contact with them. But I have always thought that Armenians, like the Jews, were hard-working and enterprising people, who can manage to surmount adversity and make something of themselves. Your article shattered that illusion. Where are the parents of these kids? Where is the adult guidance necessary to instill a sense of worth in them? Have they abdicated their moral responsibility in their pursuit of material things?

  5. Thanks Ara for sharing this. Your commitment to youth and compassion for the individual comes out in your writing. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  6. Ara says:

    Thanks Ara.
    A sad but much needed article to inform all Armenians of the great work you’re doing with GenNext and that there is still more work to do.


  7. Suzie says:

    Ara, excellent article! Thank you for doing this. I will be sharing and spreading this widely and look forward to following up in the coming weeks…

  8. Mitchell Kalpakgian says:

    Shouldn’t the churches make special efforts for Armenian youth and create social and recreational occasions for wholesome fun like sports and dances? The problem of Armenian youth, as with all troubled youth, is moral. Only the family and the church can address these pathologies, and it must do its job rather than surrender to American secular culture with all its vices.

  9. Roub says:

    Living in Glendale for 20 years now, I know there are a handful of Youth Athletic and Cultural Organizations. I wish AGBU could work closely with these organizations to guide these individuals to join these clubs and thus take them off the streets.
    I applaud you in your work and wish you success.

  10. Alek says:

    This is sad to know, I am a parent of one boy and a second one on the way. I think we need to start with the root of the problem, THE PARENTS!! A good percentage of children that are under the influence of friends or drugs, has to do with the parenting! I was born and raised here, I was caught up in a bad crowd of people and noticed in Junior High that my fellow peers were starting to drink do drugs steal and fight with other ethnic groups. I wasn’t stealing or doing drugs, but I was occasionally drinking a few beers and fighting every now and then. I was on the verge of expulsion from my school. My parents were called over to the Burbank Outreach center, to be lectured on my bad behavior, and the consequences of my actions. Both my parents attended the meeting. WHen I got home, there were tears in my mothers eyes and my father sat me down t to talk to me and punished me for my actions. He took away all priveleges that I had at the time and he told me until I dont get my grades up to a 3.0 GPA or higher, I will not be able to leave the house and play Playstation. On my weekends, or summer vacation, my father would take me to work with him. My father was a contractor, he did a lot of physical work, so on my vacations he would take me with him to do hard physical labor. He told me if you dont go to school, this is what you will be doing for the rest of your life, and if you decide you want to go to school you can work your money in a nice suit and a pen in your hand. Which one do you prefer? After doing hard labor for a few weeks, I decided, this was not for me I need to get my stuff together and create the best future I can for myself. So I told my father, I didnt want to do what he does, I want to go to school and make something of my self. So my father replied, ” ok in the case you stay home and read books.”I was mandated to read books and I could only hang out with my cousins that were honor students at school. That following semester my grades shot up to a 3.3 GPA, I was still hanging out with the kids that were troublesome at my school, but I wasnt ditching class, and I was not allowed to go out with my school friends. My parents every week would come to school and personally get my attendance sheet. If I was late to any class or if I didnt attend any days of school, all of that would reflect on my attendance report. Thats what kept me on check for a while. But in tenth grade even though my grades were good I started to realize that my friends at school were starting to do drugs, getting involved with stealing and had access to guns, thats where I drew the line and decided to either live a life of a hooligan or I can make something of myself and become an educated man. I told my parents I need to switch schools because I know if I continued hanging out with these people at school, I would have to get involved in these things one way or another. I just couldnt switch friends in school, because I would be known as a trader that couldnt hang, and that would affect my reputation in the school and cause more problems. My only way out was to switch schools and go to a different school! As a child I was not afraid of anything, but I avoided negative things because I had too much love and respect for my parents, to see another tear in there eyes. My parents saved me from getting involved with the wrong crowd, but also the child must understand and be willing to change. Parents must find the right tool to discipline there child, that tool may vary from child to child. Following up with the child and making sure there grades and attendance is in good standing is one of the most important things a parent should do. Create a group of close friends and family and arrange camping trips, picnics and other activities to get the child engaged with close family members. Spending quality time with the child is another things parents often dont make time for. This is a khaytarak situation, but the apple doesnt fall far from the tree. Armenian Parents need to open there eyes,minds and there arms to there children! This is the only way we can succeed!!!

  11. Ani says:

    Thank you so much for writing a capturing and detailed article. I agree, I felt saddened by the reality of this. As a student working and going to school in Glendale; the mecca of Armenians in the US, I see this so often. I always seem to ask myself where are their parents? Who are their role models? What direction do they have in life, and if any? This comment isn’t meant to point out the flaws or disadavantages of our Armenian community instead I’d like to share a bit of my story. I completely believe that your parents are your role models. My parents came here in their late 30s, were able to overcome so many obstacles including culture shock and langauge barrier for me and the the rest of my family to have a comfortable life and lifestyle. That hunger and thirst for knowledge and improving your life through hard work isn’t shown to these kids. Hence, that is all they know…they see their parents and other family members getting by with no work and they digest that. I appreciate the fact that your program cares for these kids and gives them some sort of direction in life.

  12. Maggie says:

    This has been obvious to me by just looking around. This generation doesn’t appreciate thier opportunities. Probably thanks to their parents and their communities. How can we ever reverse this? It is truly heartbreaking.

  13. Rina says:

    Hi, I’m sorry to read about the problems these kids
    face of multiple sources. you’re so right: they need guidance. Some ten years ago I wrote a booklet
    “The Wheel of Life” a basic philosophy age-appropriate to adolescents a copy of which I would
    like to mail to you that might give you some lead
    which you might want to use. I am Armenian. You will get to know my real name should you be interested in getting a copy. It has helped me
    late in my career as a teacher to control behavioral problems. Let me know. Thanks for all
    the help you’re extending to the youth you can reach. Rina

  14. Anet says:

    Honest and about time we, Armenians treated our teenagers like normal people rather then pretend everything is ok and feel shame for all the wrong reasons. The parents need help dealing with all that they don’t know and don’t understand. Thank you for your involvement. What a necessary niche you are filling, one that many people put blinders on to ignore.

  15. Tigran says:

    First of all thank you for for being out there and doing what you do. We need more people like.

    That said I’m curious. Is this an epidemic? Do You have statistical information?
    What is the percentage of “bad” kids vs “good”. How does it compare to city, county numbers.

  16. Karmen says:

    this is very sad. how can I help?

    • Hi Karmen,
      I have the perfect way for you to help! It involves a lot of outdoor activities, good people, and fun! Becoming a mentor is a great way to give back to your community, make new friends and learn more about your self by interacting and forming a relationship with youth.
      Email me at saro@agbugennext.org so we can talk more!
      Saro Ayvazian

  17. AM says:

    I have always expressed my concern with the citation concerning the Armenian community. Regrettably all I do is make myself very unpopular. You see, to me it all starts with the majority of the Armenian parents in the United States. We are at this point because the majority of Armenian parents don’t have a strict and moral guidelines in place for themselves. They need to start behaving properly as adults. I have read comments by some warped minded Armenian women who show total admiration and loyalty for people such as Kim Kardashian. Some even think of her as an “inspiration to women”. What do you expect from kids if we consistently promote and encourage the garbage individuals such as some of the (sports heroes, movie stars, rappers, etc.) as saints and people to look up to and it’s OK to be like them. It’s time to say “NO” for things that we have nothing in common with….so what we live in America or where ever it might be. If we continue this way, I hate to say the Armenian people and couture will be erased off this earth and no one will care, and there are those who are looking forward to that.

  18. Jan says:

    Great article, I would like to help. In respond to your article, in my idea we have to teach the parents first about new culture shock not to be afraid to love their kids and give them guidance. I have been part of Glendale school Pta for twelve year every year we had a challenge to bring our Armenian families to help at school and learn their kids school, when we approach them they said I am working and I am busy we understand we are all are working but remember it is important to make time for our kids. Most of this kids that are in trouble because their parent did have time for them when kids are home they are not there to guide them otherwise they are all good kids.
    If you are a new parent and reading about this article remember be part of your kids life and be part of your kids school activities when kids they see their parents involvement they are proud of them most likely they want to be good too. In our schools we need to have parental guides.

    It is so sad that we here about this.

  19. Sevan says:

    You’ve touched a very sensitive nerve with many of us. I’ve witnessed a number of “our lost kids” in the public middle school in Hollywood where I taught for 12 years. Many times, I approached parents, specially mothers, about their child’s at risk behavior. Generally the mothers’ response was: “vochinch degha a ge medzna ge pokhvi…” and my response to this was always, “haba yete merni yev chmedzna?” I felt that parents believed that their child’s public education was the same one they received in a different time and place. Times are different here and now! Obviously we can’t generalize this! We have plenty of armenian youth in very the best universities. We have tons volunteering for their communities, but the story remains! We need to get away from shoving our problems under the rug and acting like we don’t have any problems. As another person suggested, in the LA area, we have Homenetmen, AYF, AGBU to name a few organizations. I’m a member of the newly formed AAEA (Armenian American Educator’s Association), one of who’s mission statements deals with educating parents. We as a community need to embrace “the lost ones” and not discard them as our “khaydarag”s. Parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors. Open your eyes! Be a good role model by valuing education and great character and not with your designer clothes, cars and bags. Currently I teach GED courses at Glendale college Garfield campus, we welcome all kids Lost and Found. Ara please let us know how we can help!

  20. Mary says:

    wow, i am a parent and i feel so sad hearing about any teenager in trouble letalone an armenian teenager. i don’t know where their parents are, do they work. if they really cared about their kids one of them would have stayed home with them to make sure they are getting enough attention and to make sure they have good friends with with family values. i know it’s not easy, but at the end it pays off.
    where is our morals,ethics & values that we all grew up with are we ready to compremise them for just an extra dollar earn.
    we all came here from different countries for better future & for lots of opportunities that this country offers and yet we are taking it for granted.

  21. Anahid E. says:

    Thank you for a great article.
    Parenting is the hardest and least appreciated jobs in the world.
    Drug abuse has always been in our community and it’s not exclusive to our Southland Armenian youth.
    I know of at least 5 people in our family (Iran) who have died of drug and alcohol realted illnesses.
    Dysfunction and disease do not discriminate.
    All I can say to the parents is stop shopping, turn off the T.V.’s, log off your computers and spend quality time with your kids.
    Instead of going to the mall, take them to the book store…
    Before you lecture to your child about studying, educate “yourself”.

    Last of all I would like to thank these selfless, loving people who spend so much time to reach out to these troubled kids.
    Don’t ever give up.
    There is no such thing as a bad kid, only bad parents….

  22. Nicole says:


    Very well written and poignant. Your point of view makes me even more certain that I am working with the right organization (Generation Next) and the right people.

  23. scksa says:

    You seem to be blaming the city for not providing things for these youngsters to do. WHERE ARE THE PARENTS!! The Church and groups such as the AYF, hometmen, ACYOA etc.,etc have activities. AGAIN, WHERE ARE THE PARENTS. Seems that you must get to them first. If the parent doesn’t care, the ofsprings don’t either, or could it be that they are just following their parents behavior? We who are born and brought up in this country behave in a manner which sheds good light on the Armenians. We NEVER had this kind of behavior before, and that is because we were raised, and raised our children with a sense of honesty, respect for our selves, others and our nationality..Armenian and American. again,WHERE ARE THE PARENTS!!!

  24. Ruzanna says:

    Thank you for the article. I am a marriage and family therapist and it is an unfortunate fact that very few Armenians seek help to deal with the problems that you listed. I completely agree with your proposition about establishing relationships with the youth, particularly teenagers instead of building things around them.
    I am looking forward to reading more on this issue.

  25. Zarik Hacopian says:

    Hi Ara…Great article! Unfortunately,the people who need to see it, probably won’t read it, because they are the adults, the parents, who are busy with their unending, pointless social gatherings “kef”, engaging in illegal activities themselves, attacking school officials who try to broach the behavior issues displayed by their kids at school, and lecturing or threatening their kids in the most futile manner. PARENTS: Wake up, spend time with your children, share positive acitivities with them, treat them with dignity, and gift them with kindness (not materialism), guidance, unconditional love, and responsibility (not bailing out when they break rules/laws) and be positive role models. Let’s establish parenting classes where our young pregnant couples could start learning positive parenting techniques before children are born. We know that early childhood is when the core of morals/values, personality traits and self-esteem is forged. Let’s give parents tools to build a healthy generation of Armenian youth.

  26. Ed says:

    Very touching and moving. I have 2 little girls and I should say that it is terrifying to see things like this go on in our little community. Perhaps we should enlighten the parents as well and educate them more, because after all, it all starts from home. Thank you for doing what you do.

  27. Shoosh says:

    This article is sensationalism. Quoting an Armenian young man who says “all armenian girls” are promiscuous or suicidal is quoting a sexist dumb idiot — to then proceed and call him caring, with a winning personality, who you would hire in a minute (regardless of his grades, provided he got a ged and went to college) does not give me faith in the author. Speaking of a 13 year old girl who “ran away from home” that night, was easy to find, hanging out with neighborhood kids, who willingly went home, sensationalizes her situation and tries to sexualize the fact she was in a mixed gender group. Every group in high school, junior high, in America, Armenia… has high achieving kids and kids who aren’t given alternatives to poor academic skills (other interests, self-esteem supports) and without guidance they often fall into drugs and theft — this is not unique to Armenians and shouldn’t be sensationalized — we don’t need “adults” infiltrating kids hanging out, we need to give kids outlets (photography classes and support, music lessons on instruments they care about, like guitars, social areas, dances…). Don’t ask us to keep reading a diet of kids’ privacy unveiled and sensationalized and a litany of “blame the parents”

    • I’d be curious to know under what kind of knowledge or authority you are making these claims. What is your knowledge of Armenian American youth culture and is it more than anecdotal? The author here has years of experience working with Armenian American youth and is certainly qualified to characterize the situation.

    • AKS says:

      Shoosh the only person making sensational, unfounded, misinformed, knee jerk reactions, here is you (btw none of your so called examples actually establish the “sensationalism” in this article, you gotta work harder).

      I dont know if what I write here will change your mind (it seems you are way too in love with yourself, a la “dashti veri tsoren”) but I have to address your misguided response.

      Lets start with your “pièce de résistance”, the after school programs and Ara’s so called funds solicitation.
      Nowhere in the article did he actually ask for or hinted at any monetary contribution. If you have one please do donate, everybody will be more than thankful, and extra funds in such programs always get used to benefit the kids. What the program actually needs is mentors, people who care about these kids, and want to make a difference in their lives.

      Now you suggest that instead of Ara’s program we need after school programs and guidance for kids to attend these, ok fair enough; then make it happen. Oh but wait…kids who actually do run away from home and are SCHOOL DROPOUTS do not have guidance and will not attend after school programs because there is no such thing as school for them. If there was guidance for these kids, and if they were enrolled in one of those after school programs then these kids mostly (after school programs are not a cure all) would have not been in the situation that Ara describes them in.

      You also state that the Armenian community is not the only one with such problems. Oh OK, thank you for letting us all know, so we can sleep better tonight, that fixes the problem. Do you know that the Armenian community actually had less of these problems in the 80′s, then it started going downhill? Just because other communities have this problem (which they are fighting also BTW) does not mean we should just ignore it, and not talk about it. Also the other communities have higher numbers than us, one Armenian kid strayed from the path is one to many for us.

      It is obvious that you have no clue about the needs of the Armenian troubled youth, and have no idea what is going on with a lot of our kids.

      Hence instead of parading your non existent Spidey sense like ability to sense sensationalism, re read the article, do some research, get your head down from the clouds, and see how you can help or at least how you can not insult people who are doing a very important job.

  28. Shoosh says:

    Hrag, judging from his article, he lacks the mind to (properly characterize the situation) — no matter how much time one spends, if one spends it without perspicacity, it is merely volume not quality. My ability to spot sensationalism speaks for itself, and was addressed in my post with examples and is peppered in the article itself. This man, and you likely know him, is simply sensationalizing and seeking contributions for his organization — money which could be better spent, as I indicated above.

  29. Ida A. says:

    To call you guys superheroes would definitely be an understatement! I understand and know full well that almost on a daily basis you guys must receive more grief than thanks for your actions, but I know you do this because you love your community, and more importantly you all care a great deal for these children.

    AGBUGenNext is an amazing program that sees beyond the ability to simply state that these are the problems of parents. As the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child” and while these problems are not unique nor are isolated in the Armenian community (nor has anyone made such an outlandish claim), we must overcome the notion that being Armenian means these problems do not exist in our community and that such things would bring down that family’s name; instead people should really concentrate on the important things in life – if someone’s child is placing themselves in harms way, we as a village have failed that child and not just the parents.

    I am proud to know the members of AGBU GenNext! Ara you are not only amazing at what you do, but gracefully explain it in your entry above. You are definitely a self-less man for doing this work and I hope you three can continue to expand your program so you will one day be able to help more than just 90 children.

  30. Anahid says:

    You all ask where are these kids parents. Most of their parents have come to america very late in their lives, like my parents. They do not speak English and work from morning to night just to give their children a future. The parents do not know what is going on at school, like when the report card some in or what type of help is available from the schools (like tutoring and after-school programs). I know this because my parents did not know either. If I wanted to lie, it was easy. If parents were better informed the children would not get out of it so easily.

  31. Armen says:

    Im sorry but I got to disagree with you on the urgency of some of theses matter. I am a 19 year old male and I do know what you are talking about but I also know that this article is a little to hyped up. What you are talking about is a very small part of the Armenian community and when compared to the Hispanic and the Asian communities in Glendale, it is a much smaller party of Glendale. The topic that you talked least about is the most important and the one issue that’s going to impact the Armenian community the most, drugs( not only weed).

    • Thanks for your input, Armen, but this is a five-part series and other topics will be covered. The next installment will be published on Monday.

      • Mery Ghazaryan says:

        i agree but it is not only the armenian community. Just to let you know majority of Armenian parents are strict and want their children to be raised properly and do well in school. If those kids don’t behave and do whatever they feel like, it is because of the child not the parent. The child has to want to do well. I am 15 and my dad always tells me “if you do not want to learn, DON’T, it is going to be harder for you later on when you are grown up” and he always tells me that my job in the future is what is based on how I do today in school. I think parents should be like the child’s friend and explain to them in a friendly way that the decisions they are making is very important. Kids today don’t like it when parents tell them what to do and how to do it. Kids want to feel like grown-ups and I agree with those kids. We kids need some freedom and we don’t want to be treated like little kids. For some parents it is hard to understand that. Instead of improving how to punish your children for bad decisions, practice to become their friend. Every kid wants that, they just won’t admit it. I’m not saying, spend the whole day with your child and go shopping and all that because they want to do that with their friends. I’m saying think as a child at that age would and not how you used to do everything in the past. Kids complain when you refer to how you used to sudy and learn and read books over the summer back in the day. Think of how you as a child in today’s time would react. Like whenever I have a problem in school, I rather tell a friend than parent because that friend knows how you feel and could imagine thmselves in your shoes.

  32. Armen says:

    I’m looking foreword to reading it!

  33. Helga says:

    Thank you for sharing and for doing what you are doing and if I can help or do voluntery work, I would absolutly love to. Please contact me by my email address… :( very sad

    • Hi Helga jan,
      Thank you for your comment and I am happy to read about your interest in our program. Unfortunately, your email address is not listed in your message. So, instead let me give you my email address so that you can contact me anytime.(saro@agbugennext.org)
      Looking forward to hearing from you!
      Saro Ayvazian

  34. Anita says:

    Its about time someone address this topic.. Armenian parents have a tendency to scare their children rather than to educate them.. they don’t understand that by scaring and forbidding them the teens will be more rebellious.. I don’t know how or when the Armenian culture will adapt to this sort of change but I really hope it does happen; at least in my lifetime.

  35. MIKE ADAJIAN says:

    Excellent story, ARA & ARARAT & all. Thank you for telling the tale, for doing the work, for taking the heat, FOR CARING. The very same to LIANA AGHAJANIAN & friends for your fine Culture Clash / Hoover High story. More later.

  36. Avolik says:

    Firstable, it’s a good article to read for adults.

    Second, there is nothing wrong to address and evaluate our community horizon issues, often we think that we are the only nation who is having these crisis without looking around and check out other ethnicities that dealing with much bigger issues.

    I do believe this is moral and normal but, must be addressed as soon as possible to eliminate harsh consequences.

    there are so many organizaitons that can help and achieve certain goals in providing helpful educations and moral self cautions techniques. this can be done through sacrifice and dedication of parents and close corporation with their kids.

    Rememeber no one is perfect and we can fix it.

  37. Arlen says:

    How dare you make such generalized statements about Armenians and I cannot believe the amount of people agreeing with you. All you have done is spoke with teenagers that don’t know any better. Going to a motel at midnight and speaking with a few bad kids is not the right way to go. I think you need to speak with some successful and bright educated Armenians that we have all over Glendale before you make such rash statements as you have.

    • AKS says:

      Yeah it seems that some of the readers here are really terrible at reading comprehension; Arlene being a prime example.

      You are suggesting the author to go and talk to the successful kids under the article titled “The Lost Kids of Armenian America, Part 1″. He is not discussing the successful kids, he is talking about a major problem in our community that the majority either dont know about or just ignore it.

      While there are many successful Armenian kids (a lot of the mentors in the program are actually young professionals who earned their degrees in the best US universities) that does not mean that we have to ignore the kids who are on a path of self destruction.

      Also if you notice he is not making any generalizations nor any rash statements, he is clearly quoting one of the troubled kids. Ara is doing this for a long time, I myself worked as a Dean’s assistant in a LAUSD high school with a sizable Armenian population, and everything that Ara writes about is true. There were studious kids, middle of the road kids, and kids who were on the wrong path.

      If you consider yourself a true patriot, HAYASER, instead of knee jerk responses to this man’s article, you would think of ways of helping him and these troubled kids.

  38. Serj says:

    Articles and evidence like yours are exactly what our community needs to wake up and change their materialistic and ignorant ways.

  39. bianca says:

    Im a little late I see, but I’m here! This is SO sad and TRUE!

    @Arlen- this is not meant to be a program to reach out and guide those who are already guided. We know we are bright and we as Armenians have the ability to achieve anything we want to. That is one thing as Armenians we ALL have… STRENGTH.

    As Armenians we are programmed to hide everything because of ‘amot’, and that is rooted into our youth far deeper than we can imagine.

    Reaching out to a group of kids who refuse to open up and change their views is commendable… especially knowing 85% of the time, those kids will go home and get absolutely no support from their families and you run the risk of your efforts being ‘wasted’.

    …its like walking an hour to grab the right bus to get to work, and everyday you get on and it does a u-turn and heads in the complete opposite direction, the direction you just walked from. To get up and do this walk everyday, willingly, with a positive spirit is amazing…


  40. Meline Yeghoyan says:

    Hi AGBU stuff,
    my name is Meline.I come from Armenia. Recently I have completed my Master’s Degree of Philology in YSU. Finding it impossible to accomplish the Ph’d there, I’ve moved to Poland in the search for better life, education and work… However, as we say ‘there’s no place like home’… If you intend to bring up your children Armenians in ‘whereever’, preserving the customs and mentality that you yourselves used to have,you’re on a wrong path… Believe me, I say it from my own experience: gathering the children from the streets and giving them jobs, will not solve the problem that you clash with. First of all, you’ve got to define your problem. And that is the loss of Armenian character and traditions… Deep in our souls, no matter where we live, we remain Armenians with a definite character and way of thinking… In my opinion, you’ve got to remind them where they come from not only theoretically (this is what parents do), but visually, for e.g. hang posters of Mount Ararat or pictures of Mher (Frunzik)Mkrtchyan, Charles Aznavour… in public places, where both the children and their ‘foreign’ mates will see them. Make them feel ashamed of their behaviour and feel proud of who they are. Rise their interest indirectly, bring them back to their roots…There certainly exist organizations (The Ministry of Diaspora) and programs (‘Ari tun’- this is what i know), which help the youth visit and get acquainted with their country and culture. The rise of self-esteem and the knowledge of who they are will help the youth overcome the barriers of merging in the society, giving them self-confidence (dzerbazatelov inqnahastatman kompleqsic)… I don’t know how I can be more helpful than writing the ideas (which perhaps you’d consider useless), but I’ll be glad to help you (in any possible way)!
    With best regards Meline

  41. Roza Moskovyan says:

    I find it very sad that you had to start your article by calling Armenian girls sluts. I found that to be very offensive. You forgot to mention all the wonderful family values and morals we have.

  42. Arthur says:

    I am current member as a mentee of AGBU Gennext, and all that is said in the article is true. During every group activity we have that i encounter someone that I do not know. And this person will either be someone who is a great person, and just needs a little guidance here and there. But occasionally, I will meet someone who is dropped-out, doing drugs, smoking, or has a criminal record.
    These people have they’re own thoughts and beliefs, and can only be changed through guidance and help.

    I joined because I was having troulbe with grades, and getting into conflict with kids at school, along with other problems a teen would encounter. Through the help of Ara, Saro and Luiza, I changed with my bad grade habits, I got along with other people better, and i stayed away from drugs and such.

    This program is great and it has helped me meet new people and make great new friends. I love this program and wish to be with it for my entire life.

  43. Kristine says:

    It is very sad to read this article, but hopefully it will help some people to open their eyes and see what is REALLY going on in the Armenian community. I completely agree with the article that we as Armenians need to stop being in denial and open our eyes. Our Armenian culture & values are at stake. Our children are our future. I myself am a parent of 2 boys, ages 3 and 6. When I read this article and look around and see what is going on, it frightens me of what is coming ahead of me. A lot of people mentioned in their comments of how the parents have a lot to do with what is going on and I definitely agree. The issue begins at home. It appears that a lot (not all) of Armenian families seem to care mostly of the materials they have in their lives more than the future of their children. A lot of them are too busy trying to surpass what their neighbor has or what their relative has or what their own sister or brother has. It is really sad that instead of worrying about what their child is up to or who he/she is handing out with, they are worried about not having the best car or a nicer home.

    It’s sad to hear a friend of mine tell me of a story when he went to an Armenian family’s house to install their cable. He explained to me how he heard two Armenian women, in their early 40′s, while sitting together and having coffee talk about whose watch is nicer and expensive. He explained to me how one was saying to the other my watch is Gucci while the other woman explained that her watch is the newer style of Gucci and more expensive. They sat there comparing watches and who has the more expensive and nicer one. I just wonder if these women knew what their children were up as they sat comparing watches.

    It’s time to wake up and see what is going on. Our culture and values are slowly & gradually disappearing. It appears to me as though our grand children or perhaps our great grand children will not even be able to speak/understand Armenian the way we are going. We need to all do something and do it now. I will do my best as a parent to not let my children get mixed up in all of this. I will make sure that they understand what is important in life and that hard work, dedication, and education is what is going to get you to success. I know a lot of parents who work hard to keep their children away from what the article sadly mentions is the reality of most Armenian families. I hope that others would join in and begin to realize what’s really important for the sake preserving our cultural values. If the parents begin to disciple the right way from home, at least it will be a beginning for a brighter future for every Armenian child who deserves the best. From there on, the seed will be planted and a child will have a better outlook in life and perhaps when they get pressured to do drugs or ditch from school, they will have the courage to say “no”.