I envision an Ireland where young people have the opportunity to experience positive mental wellbeing. I feel that in order for this to be possible young people need to live in a world that includes them in everything, a world where they aren’t discriminated against or marginalised simply because of their age.
This can often happen in today’s modern society which often highlights the negative aspect of youth culture. One obvious example of this is the infamous mosquito device, can you imagine the uproar there would be if there was a device put outside school gates to prevent mothers from congregating for more than a few minutes? Or if the elderly were targeted?
Such treatment can often result in feelings of disenchantment and disempowerment. This is worsened by the way young people are depicted in the media.
Young people have been created into these violent monsters by the media which has created a huge moral panic. Everyday there are new media reports of incidents of anti social behaviour, underage drinking, drug taking involving young people.
Instead of stereotyping all young people in this negative way and tarring everyone with the same brush, why are those who volunteer in their community, doing well at school, or excelling at sport highlighted?
It is inevitable that someone who is constantly being stereotyped as bad, will start to believe they are bad, and will act in that way.
The teenage and young adult years are often marred by confusion as individuals attempt to work out who they are and who they want to become. This is a time where many young people rebel against a system which they feel alienated from.
Schools can often focus on punishing students for bad behavior instead of rewarding those for good behavior. New innovative ways are needed to address young people who are often bored by the education system.
One of the reasons I think that many students drop out of third level is because students are suddenly thrown into an environment where they are forced to think and act for themselves.
This environment is alien to them as throughout school they have always had teachers to show them how to think.
Young people need to be challenged to make the most of their abilities, in such a way that they feel empowered to do so. There is good work being done around the country to empower young people, but there is still a lot more to be done.
It is only by taking new approaches to engaging and involving young people can their needs, and the needs of the wider society, be understood and met