Transcript for ABC News' Byron Pitts discusses his new book, 'Be the One'
Hey as I'm on in about live in New York are in for a treat. I could listen to this man tells stories all day long and he is joining us here in studio to talk about his new book. The the wine and my colleague here at ABC news Byron thank you so much for me and her hand like in new digs as you I'm nice comfortable chance not expression. Coffee machine the suspect now we want the copied the we want to copy machines. I'm thinking it is so powerful in his only leave the collection at store recently met. Along the way in your role as a journalist why did you want a topic. Well you know for a couple reasons. You know there the hard facts right something like 70% of all children say they globally. One in five girls sexually abused our country won in twin boys. 20% of kids twelve. Eighteen say they've experienced depression at some points when others affect the national heartfelt stories to go along with that nest willingly live and story tell itself. The book is about six young people like men the course of my career who. Delta terrible pain but managed it a lot on their own from sexual abuse to obesity to war. On. But the idea for the book comes from it's I was speaking at a charter school in Baltimore miles ten years ago in dispute eleven year old girl who. She comes up and asked me questions in school kids asking questions like do you know jays the immunity behind right that gets passed. It's those little girl waited until the end she said mr. it's the question. When you let the New Castle. Growing up involved you were my age. Rich ago rich high with the world too much. Whatever teachers was listing as set what does she watched and talked to anybody so I told the teacher what she asked me. That the school teacher investigated come to find at this eleven year old girl living in Foster care was being sexually abused in that moment. Andy going on for long time. In so the intervened got a hell but it got me to think in like how often do we meet people core server business children and adults who asks in question. We're going go where hi will hurt too much. And on. And and in doing stories with the young people I've heard that a lot of people being fewer for anxious and and I thought okay wanna go find people and that what exact chosen from my my own life. You know on the journalist and our job is that stick to the facts. But I wanna be and encourage right when having empties to encourage people. And so the book is meant to encourage young people primarily in people who support young people. That even if he were dealt a banned pain. In this country. You can you can be okay in these young people all on their own at some point decided that. They're going to be okay eventually adults got involved but initially there were kennel owner like this 11 young woman by name is Mikhail from Alabama. Adorable blond haired girl if you make you think what a great little cheerleader writes is it sweet spirit. So McKay it was back story is she was. The rays in a hardscrabble neighborhood live with her mom if she wants her mother to the killers. In this for the longest time she was responsible for twin sister and her younger sibling young child yourself camels school. It's tough. Witness. Oh lots things to young people shouldn't witness well today she just got her master's degree she's Mary she's living a great line. But in that moment of crisis she yet decide for itself. In my gonna fall victim of this amount of fear and she did. You know these stories and there's agitated six stories and hear that you chose I don't know how you chose them all the people. You must of met. In the course of your career but they are all young people as you point out these are stories about teens and younger Tonya as he mentioned the first yes I talked about having your old. Is heartbreak it. To read the tea tails and I wonder if he thinks there is something it seed pat young age. If it's something that's just me is it something that they just inherently half that allowed them to persevere that that that's great question. You know not my mine. Lake grandma these electric SP. Those who will succeed no matter what those who fail no matter what in those who will succeed or fail based district. I think these six kids in many ways are in that first group that they're gonna succeed. No matter what I was raised to believe in like this talk mean that all look like all of us have stories all of us have challenges. But it seems as if he does have one person luncheon. In my case as a responsible parent it was a moment then then you're in you're good to go should kits were different points that really a most in at least to have anybody. But I think they were just something with and then decided that they are Bennett just hanging like the girl asked the question I have the answer I set when nobody needs this you know. If you just do the best you can there are angels walk in this earth and Angel will find the best in his rectum when it. And and and and it's it's and that's what happened with her army eventually people to get involved in gutter help but troubles. Those in her case months she had to it's it. Just clinging to the idea that you just hold on let me get me that I serve all this gets hit two things in common than their stories are different. One year old incredibly optimistic not deny the kind of way but in measured mature kind of way in this case are optimistic and you know things are all incredibly tough. But these are kids house say it seventh on the view this morning day fewer and a street fight in an Alley fund you won't want these six is with these. Think that there. Maybe the ending you mentioned their stories are all so different yet. You've got a young way in the Congo you've got you know a young kid battling obesity in America in Oklahoma that it. It's just the range of story is so broad and how you actually focus in on the eve. I think it one point are probably started like with twenty. If things get get down its and then like toy with 74 while there's value to our right right right at their firearm right. I like sadness of that that's that's nice biblical number. But as it turns out like some of the stores in some ways became sort of redundant like you coming got the point with six kids. No but let the kid who is his name is Mason party from Guthrie Oklahoma small town so on city. But Mason was like nine years old who children's expands. Morbidly obese bullied in school. And figured out at one at one point of that probably that life. Probably shouldn't be that way and then all his own hit the sack lose weight he lost like sixty plus over summer. Any changes like the cape happy from the Congo again. War breaks out in the Congo impact these. My twelve result he's in middle school. And the here this this thing and outside I think is like thunderstorms. School closes a pro they go home is actually school victim villages under attack that the white and you thought there are relaxing gunfire explosions. Anyway patty gets home his father and his father's good friend then. They sell cow for 200 dollars to get these group of boys 200 dollars to see just leave con go where you can't. He kept here working get to south act like will be back. In so you can fly in about five hours you can drive in a couple days it took two years to walk. And each place he wins he realized that. There there is trouble each place they work. They encounter different kind from from they were like these are kids they were squeegee boys for men and we got wrapped up and drug thing for a drunk meals all kinds of awful things happened. Some some some suggestion of sexual abuse as well to them. So that the question asked all the kids is already written gritty Ugoh ready you high when the world hurt super happy. Lewis' faith he said he hit in the church. That during the worst of that the fighting the one place villages would be safe it is physically made in temperatures. The rebels wouldn't go there so pap it was and it on his adventure going to South Africa. This church and his spirit kept him say. For Mason the kid who was bullied is as as a fact catering. He hit safe place was a spam his paris' older brother younger brother who never judged whose loved him anyway. Four. Tonya the girl who was sexually abused for a long period of time via another boy living in Foster overboard leaving her Austro. Her replaces her imagination she's a ferocious reader she loves Harry Potter. In so when she was being assault in those moments she said she would her mind would close law and so she would it. Go on an adventure with Harry so she said he might harm my body but no one could touch muscle attachment on. And now in all these kids. The young woman from from Alabama. Her safe place was a fun place to cry. When she was responsible for her twin and her younger siblings so they would not see that. Pub desperate circumstance. She would lock herself and clots which you put this issue get addressed every day to school. She had a job. Issue locked herself in the closet and cry when a Final Fantasy about her. So when she finally finishes high school graduates top class gets a four rice University of Alabama should save like 20000 dollars in high school this kid did everything right. Right boy a new car gets schooled for rhyme if she pulls off campus. First an affair go to college he she sees all these kids on a preschool and parents with and siblings who Whitman issued by so. She's like you know. Can't do a slight what can do it. And so she thought about going back home she rely she could so she went into a new dormitory cast someone who can work that was the main us. They pointed to a she Whitney a closed door crop in dark space. Pick yourself up mr. shoulder back in graduated three years with honors alone. As all of these kids on their own in their own way young people decided okay aren't. I've been dealt a bad hand OK let me figure out let me do the best I can. And they did in each case for them fortunately adults good people came into their office it's of the book is meant for for young people middle school high school to say look you know. Regardless of your circumstance. You can be okay. These here's the user six young people who endured. Some of the words that mean there are no guarantees in life some of the worst that life can offer in their okay. And they're not special. It was. You say it's very young adults and indicates that there are a ton of less than older affluent absolutely Brian all of you know you see what people go through on a daily base that yet I think I mean if you mentioned there statistics we hear about. Headlines and Leona when it reports come out but to actually put. Faces and names and specific circumstances. To each of these things that we now afflicts so when he needed to thousands if not millions of kids it's just. It is really really powerful Adam Terry at because. He you mentioned how Tonya ask you where you used to go right you know when your seats pace you've written about your turning me written about feeling that adversity that you have overcome. As a young man in later in life and I wonder how that in full form and how you ask. He's young kids there. That's so yeah I know I was raised in east Baltimore. For those for involvement is distinction between east and Westphal for those from home they knew what that means that the that and a responsible parent mom had her first child she was seventeen him news which finished high school. I did learn to read until I was twelve almost thirteen. And I spoke with a stutter until my junior in college at one points and therapists told my mother was mentally retarded their Frazer Nash be institutionalized. But my mother things Claire respects got called her home about five years ago moment of our great faith and also very tough. And my mother for all of her life. And for all of my life and for much of her life she wore around her neck small mustard seed in case in clear plastic bullet change. It was my mother's daily reminder description book of Matthew that says he had faith justice thousand mustard seed. He is sitting down to mountain move from here to there and nothing will be impossible. So it was with I am I am a product of a great mom. And you know. Teacher is in good folk in my church who lobbed on the prayed for me you know yes certainly is I'm Christian that's that's a big part polite but I was raised to be. Respectful of all faiths but mom my travels around the world have shown me that there. That that that there are lot of people who love god and in in call him or her about different names. Right but he was it was the great Yankee catcher Yogi Bear who once it always Danes with a one run. Faith I learned of my mom is knee is it is what brought me. You mentioned them update on the kids and you wrote in the book that at the time of this writing you know all of them to be doing him. Very very well art are they still doing very want to keep up with the door. Right I've talked to the only from Baltimore who started mute mystery she's a freshman college. Complain about freshman Matt which is also as you shouldn't Bryant be an intern like I talked to I talk to Michaela. Say she's she's reasoning Mary handsome Fella. They were high school sweethearts. But is at another example how often Spitzer so parochial. She won't money telling us so she. This did not in the book not okay this is just happens to spoke. So she finishes university Alabama three years get your master's degree he cool rate attack on the world wants to work and social work because of her own. Shot brilliant woman gorges. She was diagnosed with and that's. And who can. She home missed it. On just how good his guy. And one we'll. How could this cup since the baby you have a disease that may Killian could certainly compromised quality of life well. So this did you understand cessation said that this kind of social work she wants to to work and are is that families with special needs. And fans that had medical challenge is going and that's what Iowa specialized. And how wonderful nailed that because of my issue with in advance I can be so much more empathetic can be so much better in my job that was her first five. First off. And it speaks to how like you know not content Scott not like the lords on taken away though you know we all pray for miracles. It's like it here here's work here's what I've been get hit don't do it. And insisting on it it surprised me but it shouldn't because that's kind of who they all law and your DNA happy. Whose married. Neared a woman in Germany. He travels the world he works in. In refugee camps around the world. He's works a documentary he wants to tell his own story to be quick because just this story. In what he'd do. In his it is a movie you Boca Juniors at 2 o'clock in the Congo's product from my gut tells us great story about how they were in some part of Africa and the traveling. And someone said they were almost oh okay like this terrible here but if you just go there to be better. A case they knew it was him listen. And yes it will be just crawl that fence and go that way Tim miles that weighs knife okay cool. But the guy to tell them the whole things was to animal reserve. In so there are some it and go from being young boys to pardon food chain. And so again there is now this great adventure and getting through there but. Inside he's so far over the take away was and this is true for all of us for adults. This often we think well if I get this job. If I get this opportunity I get to date his person by filing it may have it's if this happened my life will be better. And what package during taught him was that you know. Yet be happy where you are right now. Because you never know because in the new thing might be in new might be nice there's probably some bad attached as well and and he learned that is you know twelve. His lesson in there for all of us for sure and a lot more. Lessons in near as loud ties the book. Could be the lines go katic go read it it's fabulous fabulous collection of stories iron thank you can actually sitting thanks for being here and thanks to you for watching as well remember you can always go to abcnews.com for more I'm on the deposit will be back here since.
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