27 November 2012

Joy writes...

I worry sometimes that we’ve got our focus a bit wrong working with young people. We sometimes respond to their stories, their worldviews and their choices as if on their 13th birthday they are taken to some alien planet and brain washed in that alien culture and are then returned to us, outside the adult world we belong to.

However young people don’t exist in a vacuum; they are totally the product of the society they belong to.

Young people aspire to the things that we have agreed are important and they value the things we value. But when those things meet the challenges and instability of puberty and teenage existence we panic, and then try and sort them out, when instead we should take a good look at ourselves and say ‘maybe we’re the problem.’

Maybe if we weren’t still telling each other that success was how much you earn, how beautiful you looked and how many people you don’t know, know who you are, we wouldn’t have so many young people feeling like they were failing at life, and getting angry about it. Maybe we wouldn’t have so many young people worrying about how they look and maybe we wouldn’t have so many young people desperately seeking love and attention.

At urban hope I spend my time suggesting to young people that success might be finding something you enjoy doing and having a healthy, positive relationship with yourself, with your family and the wider community.

Perhaps I’m suggesting this to the wrong group of people; maybe I should be suggesting it to my peers, my community and to myself instead. If we want our young people to be different, maybe it’s us that need to change.

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