Director and Co-Creator Erahm Christopher is the creative mind behind TEEN TRUTH and TEEN TRUTH LIVE. He is an award-winning filmmaker whose films contain thought provoking messages that inspire thinking and discussion amongst people of all ages. Intent on making a difference in the world, he has traveled with TEEN TRUTH LIVE and spoken to middle school, high school, and adult audiences across North America. He has been featured on major media outlets and has spoken before over 250,000 people in 3 years.
Q: If you could offer a piece of advice to teachers and administrators, what would that be?
A: I believe that today’s youth have so much on their mind and distractions in their lives that one of the most important things any teacher, administrator or parent can give, is to take the time to listen. The more spend time with my twenty-one month old daughter the more I recognize how much she looks up to me and my wife for answers, assistance and most importantly attention. She listens so well that any word that comes out of my mouth she tries to repeat. But sometimes I find I have to work extra hard to listen and understand what she is trying to communicate. Based on my own experience being a teenager and speaking with teens all over North America, I believe this need only gets stronger. I acknowledge that teachers, administrator and parents all have pressing obligations and deadlines. The job description for a teacher and administrator needs to be changed and the role of the parent needs to be reiterated. And if parents are not present (whatever the reason) we all need to help pick up this slack. The future of our youth depends on how much time we are willing to spend on it. It is the responsible thing to do.
In 2000 the Chicago Sun Times featured a very important report the Secret Service completed about school shootings. Their answer was not more metal detectors or profiling, it was to listen more to our children, deal fairly with problems such as bullying, improve communication in schools, and investigate quickly and thoroughly when a student raises a concern. The wall that youth put up can often times be difficult to break through, but don’t stop chipping away because it is imperative we discover what’s going on inside. (This report is actually featured in the research section of our website.)
Q: If you could share one piece of advice with teenagers, what would it be?
A: I tell students all of the time that they are incredibly powerful. They have the ability to impact everyone around them including their own self. Most teens do not realize the power they have or if they do, they often do not understand why it is so important to use it to make a difference. When I was younger, I did not realize the true power was. I believed popularity, friends, sports, labels and appearances was power. I know now that the true power lies in your self. Your ability to control your emotions, to express yourself in a healthy manner and to ultimately think more about the decisions that you make everyday. Not to be too cheesy, but I believe it is similar to Jedi powers in Star Wars or Froto’s ability to not be influenced by the evil powers of the ring in Lord of The Rings. The funny thing is that the power never leaves you, however if you never practice how to use it (like a Jedi) you will never what it is possible. It can literally be used to change your life and the lives of people around you.
A: My first presentation was at Morada Middle School in Morada California on January 15th, 2007. I was a extremely excited to embark on a new endeavor but nervous about whether the 7th and 8th graders would like the film or even my presentation. I wasn’t worried about what I was going to say, but rather if they would listen and feel at the end that I did not waste their time.
I had a blast delivering the presentation and you could hear a pin drop during the film screening. One student asked me how long I had been presenting to students. I told her that it was my first time. She couldn’t believe it and told me that she loved the presentation. At that moment I knew we something special was just beginning.
I believe each presentation is always new and exciting. After three years, I have gained a higher level of comfort that has allowed me to interact more with the students and I have gained an incredible new perspective from the students, teachers and administrators that I met every time I deliver a presentation. I am always excited to do a new presentation, especially when it is in a city, state or province that I have never been to before. Since the film has been shown to over 2.5 million people I am much more confident that the audience will enjoy the film, but truthfully, I am always a little nervous whether they will connect to me.
Q: If TEEN TRUTH could be everything you wanted and there were no limits, where would you want to see the program go?
A: always considered TEEN TRUTH to be a movement. A movement that youth around the world would join and begin to stand up for each other and speak the truth about the issues that they are all struggling with. I would like TEEN TRUTH to be the channel that cuts through the pressure, confusion and difficulties and delivers the raw truth about the issues so teens everywhere can learn to stand up together and for each other to meet the challenges ahead and live a happier and healthier life. I believe TEEN TRUTH will grow into a more robust speaking series that includes additional educational workshops, films and multimedia outlets that provide the true youth voice and that bridges the gap between proven research and student experience in order to create the most effective educational tools on the market.
Q: Do you see an end to bullying and school violence?
A: I am “believer”, not a “hoper”. Yes, I do believe we can stop bullying and school violence if everyone begins to take action. I am not able to do it alone. I can barely change my car tire alone. TEEN TRUTH is not able to do it alone. I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to be proactive about this problem. To listen as much as possible, act as fairly as possible and be the difference whenever possible.
Q: Who do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I hope I never grow up. But when I am really old, I would like to be someone who inspired others to be better human beings.