Having worked in Mainstream Secondary Education for the past 20 years, and the latter 4 working in a Pupil Referral Unit, I have seen first hand some of the pressures, fears and worries that teenagers have to cope with in their everyday lives.
When they reach a pupil referral unit, many feel as though they have failed, in many factors, as a person, as a student and in their lives. They feel this because they assume that they are not wanted in mainstream school, have been moved as they cannot cope and also that there is no where to go. So they wonder why they have to bother at all and become extremely despondent.
They worry about their exams and their results. They feel pressurised to achieve higher not just their best as their future looks hard. They will need money for a car, a house and good qualifications to get a good job.
Many of these students have a severe lack of support from home which does not help. Many families are short of money or have parents who have issues too. More than a third are in families who are struggling to pay their bills. When I was growing up we had times where my parents were frugal with money especially when my Dad was on strike with the Post Office. We, as a family, never went without and each year we had a family holiday, even when the money was less. Many teenagers dont have the luxury of a family Sunday Roast as the family is split with parents working or not being able to afford the same.
But the biggest fear these teenagers have, according to the Children’s Society Good Childhood report 2017, is the fear of crime.
This is the most common problem leaving 2.2 million teenagers more likely to be unhappy. When I was a teenager crime was not something that I feared. We did not need to lock our doors but could walk in and out when necessary. We did not need to worry about having our mobile phones stolen or laptops as these were not really in existence when I was a teenager.
Nowadays 1 in 3 teenage girls worries about being followed by a stranger. As a adult , I worry about this so I cross the road or stay close to houses if I am on my own walking, especially at night. Teenage girls can stay safe by walking with friends and trying not to be out on their own. 1 in 4 boys worry they will be assaulted. It is such a shame that teenagers have to grow up with this in their mind. When I was growing up there was the occassional scuffle but nothing where anyone was seriously hurt. Nowadays fights happen until people are badly hurt, have serious cuts or worst.
200,000 children say they dont get enough emotional support at home. This is really important to teenagers, to be able to have someone they can talk to, who will listen and give advice. When I was in mainstram education, I worked mainly with students who had barriers to their learning, whether emotional, social, behavioural or medical. I always had an ‘open door’ policy so these students knew if they needed a chat they could always come and do the same. It helped them to gain in confidence and also become more positive on their outlook to life.
Have you ever had a lot of serious problems to deal with at one time? One million teens have seven or more issues to deal with. These children are ten times more likely to be unhappy than those with none. How do you deal with your issues? I often find chatting with friends or asking advice from family members helps. To a child who has more than one issue, I personally would sit and go through each one. Prioritise which is the main one and work out strategies to deal with that. Then gradually work through the list and see if there is something that can sort all issues. But what does a teenager who has noone to help them do? Maybe use one of the local Youth Groups or something similar.
However something worrying is going to happen. The Government is cutting funding for these local services that help children. Where will these troubled and worried teenagers then go? Who will they turn to when they need help and support? Will they then become victims of crime? Or worst still will they turn to crime as a way to ease their issues? The most tragic event would be, without support will they turn to drugs and drink?
The Childrens Society is asking for more money to help these teenagers and I would be grateful if you could take a few moments to fill in this online petition. This is the link http://bit.ly/2eSptgj
For more information you can read this at http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/the-good-childhood-report