If young people don’t trust adults, who could blame them? 

Young People might have a pretty odd feeling towards adults at the moment. If we’re honest just look at us, then think for a moment, that it would be much of a surprise if young people were more forceful in deciding that they would make a better job of it all.

Last week, young people it was said have started articulate that they hoped social media – a digital platform created by adults to communicate (and make money) hadnt been invented, this report was here, albeit the same size was pretty small. But even so, its a world created by Adults, that young people have to be taught to avoid its pitfalls. marvellous. I can see why some young people would want it not to be there at all. Image result for Social media

Then there is everything else in society created by adults, that young people have to ‘have resilience’ to cope with – so the pressures of advertising, body image, looks, wealth, fame and popularity. This is extrapolated in TV, Film and the Internet.

Then there’s the adults who have created the structures in society – not just ‘teachers’ – but that teachers themselves are subject to notorious outcomes, targets, inspections and policies on education in a 4-5 yearly repeated cycle of change upon change, that leads to favourite teachers leaving, uncoordinated new exam criteria, and pressure. Young people are well aware that it is adults in the form of the government, local school education trusts and local councils who decide these things. None seem to be in the benefit of the people of the institutions, teachers or pupils, just targets.

Then theres the adults who voted for Brexit. The chaos this has caused, costs and uncertainty, and the adults who made this a reality and pushed for it. From the perspective of many young people – some of this might have been the last straw. Many many young people were let down. On a differnent but as contentious issue, the adults who created a system that means that jobs and houses might be in short supply in 10 years time.

And speaking of adults in politics, theres a good few young people who think, and might be right in thinking that they could do a better job of being a human person in the role of US president right now.

Then theres the press, all run by adults, trying to make young people (aka millenials) also the perpetrators of all ‘that was good’ before. Creativity and boundary pushing is seen as rebellion. The press, who very rarely write or speak of young people in a positive way, and cause adults to belief untruths about young people. Image result for Millennials

Then there’s the adults closer to home. The parents who argue about finances because jobs are harder to come by, the parents who drink and get violent. The parents who find parenting difficult in this same age.

For some young people it is the adults who weren’t there, when the young person was in care, the adults who abused, neglected or rejected. The adults who couldn’t cope themselves. As a result, the only supportive adult might have been someone ‘paid’ to do it, well meaning but paid.

Its no wonder so many, including young people, and their voices of struggle are being heard on world mental health day yesterday.

If I was a young person growing up, I would find it hard to not make the point that adults have done a good job at making growing up in the UK a difficult task. Id wonder whether it would be worth listening to the next ‘well-meaning’ adult, when adults seem to have created a world to grow up in that for many young people is one to have to navigate, rather than enjoy.

As adults, even well meaning youthworkers, we might do well to reflect on how young people might view the world that they grow up in and how even as we might help them reflect on it, we might have to admit some culpability. From helping social media to grow, become important, from using the house price market ourselves, or not standing up to the challenges in policies that promote inequality, education formation and school direction.

If i was a young person i might find it difficult to fully want to trust an adult at the moment, theres not many setting a great example, or one they can trust. As adults, even yes adults in the church (who have created similar systems) have to acknowledge that these inhibit rather than help young people to flourish, yet at the same time created a world where it is acceptable to blame young people for society’s ills.

Its now wonder young people might just sigh, when we suggest a ‘new’ initiative to control, entertain or engage them. They might just not trust us for it to last, just like the last lot didnt work, stick around or last.

Fortunately young people will keep trusting, like we all do, until we find someone or a cause we can believe in, that offers hope and meaning. Until then, Im not surprised or wouldnt be if young people just formed their own groups, communities and societies and created their own world and only let adults involved when theyd built it in a way that an adult couldn’t ruin it. Its no surprise that I am seeing young people have a greater desire to vote, and a greater desire to volunteer, and to be politically involved. The tide might be changing and young people want a bigger say in the world, as they dont trust that adults are trusted to be able to. They might just take matters into their own hands, with the drive to want things to be different.


Author: James

Currently I work part time for both Frontier Youth Trust (www.fyt.org.uk) and Communities Together Durham (www.communitiestogetherdurham.org) , though this blog is my own personal views. I am also self employed and do various aspects of youthwork consultancy, including training, writing, lecturing, seminars and written pieces, including organisational consultancy, community profiling and detached/youthwork training. Please do get in touch if I can be of help to you in your church, project or organisation to develop your youth and community work. I have contributed to 'Here be Dragons (2013), and two recent articles in the youth and theology journal and 'ANVIL' the CMS online journal. My recent employment includes, working for FYT as a youthwork development adviser, being the centre director at Durham YFC, and before this I was known as 'Mr Sidewalk' as I was the project coordinator for the Sidewalk Project in Perth, where I facilitated the delivery of 5 years of detached youthwork on the streets, schools and communities to engage with young people , and support through alcohol misuse issues. In 2017 I completed an MA in Theology & Ministry at St John's College, Durham, and in 2008 graduated from ICC (now NTC Glasgow) with an honours degree in youth work with Applied theology.

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