This week, I was shocked and disgusted when I saw the headline about a teenager caught on CCTV punching an 87-year-old woman in the face on a bus. I was then disappointed and slightly taken aback by the story of two teenage girls ripping down a poppy display, just hours before Remembrance Day.
The blatant lack of respect and disregard shown by these teenagers is astounding and infuriating to a young person like myself, who wants young people to be seen in the best possible light. However, news stories like this, alongside all of the reported stabbings, violent crimes and other acts of antisocial behaviour make it difficult to change the perceptions of young people.
Lack of respect among young people is a major concern, shown by the worrying level of disrespect they have their elders, their peers and ultimately for themselves. In fact, it seems to get worse as the generations get younger, which leaves me fearful for the future, particularly as young individuals seem to have a warped idea of what respect should look like.
Yet isn’t it up to us to attempt to educate them about what respect really is, ingraining it in their mind when they are at home, school or even during extracurricular activities. Encourage young people to learn about each other, gain an understanding of their backgrounds, communicate efficiently and respect boundaries. If they build up more positive relationships, there is bound to be a greater level of respect.
It is also important to consider how we portray young people and also what labels we give them. The two stories I mentioned are extremely negative and bound to spark some strong, heated reactions, but isn’t this often the case when young people are concerned?
Too often, the media report stories that paint young people in a negative light, without counteracting this with the positives, when there are a whole lot of young people doing positive things with their lives. I’m sure that the majority of young individuals are not caught up in violent crimes or antisocial behaviour; in fact, many young people have the ability to inspire others.
If young people are consistently painted in a negative light or are told by those around them that they will fail and amount to nothing, it comes as no surprise that some of them will start to believe that is who they are and live a life to fit that role. Those negative reports start to seep into their mind, until that is all they see, and suddenly they choose to follow suit.
Perhaps being able to see more of the inspiring and positive news stories will encourage them to make better choices, as seeing what one young person does might make them think that they have the ability to do it too, especially if they’ve come from their area.
We have to start getting out there and making a better name for ourselves though. It’s time for young people to stand up and let their lights shine, letting the world see the amazing individuals they are. It’s time for the young to start showing more respect, to others and also to themselves. But more than that, it’s time for the media to stop vilifying the youth and cancel out the negative stories with the positives.
Let’s make it happen, because it can be done.