Some time ago I heard a presentation that resonated with me, it seemed to fit many conversations I had with both young people, parents, teachers and a wide rang of other adults. Let me share my recollection and I would love your comments. Do you concur? Do you disagree? This assumes, of course, that you are ‘of an age’ to have experienced it.
It has been suggested that three things are missing from society today that were around when I was a teenager [a mere 20 something years ago (emphasis on the something!].
The first is a loss of love and security. You see, when I was growing up the incidence of divorce and family breakdown was far more rare, somehow families stuck together. Today it would be irresponsible to ask a group of teenagers if they still lived with their real mum and dad, but if I did there could well be less than half. Many young people I know feel let down, unloved and unwanted by the absent parent and certainly suffer from a lower than average self image and a higher than average insecurity. Some of them feel a real sense of not belonging. When I was their age …. I was secure in knowing my family structure was stable.
The second thing is that there is a loss of truth. Young people aren’t hearing anyone standing up to say – this is what you should do. Parental control is lighter [see above] and certain politicians and leaders are pointing the way but then not living the same as their talk. I never remember being told what was right and wrong it was somehow picked up as I went along, there was also the incentive that if I did anything that I shouldn’t do then somehow, someone knew my parents and the message got back home usually before I did. Today things are different. Some young people I have worked with are quite relaxed about explaining why they had to take the car from its owner and seem to think it is quite acceptable. Kevin could wax eloquent about how he was hungry and they had two videos; so it made sense to him to steal for his stomach. [He conveniently forgot that he didn’t have any food or money because of his drug addiction; and that he took both video recorders as well as other items]. When I was their age … people seemed to have a more acute sense of conscience
Finally, and perhaps most pointedly, is the fact that there is a loss of hope. Young people leaving school don’t find it easy to find work and need more and more qualifications to gain employment. I remember employing a young man as a fork lift truck driver who had a degree in human geography [whatever that was]. When I was their age … I had a choice of jobs when I left school.
The consequences of feeling that they don’t belong, they have no future and that there are few moral guidelines can be seen in the media on a regular basis.
So – do you agree? Disagree? Do you have any pointers to help others working with young people that would be helpful? Please put your thoughts in the comments below.