The problem with teenagers: A story

To a certain extent we all respond in the manner to which we are treated, or at least have to work much harder at responding positively when we are dealt with negatively! Faith or no faith!
This equation of: ‘how we are treated = how we behave’ though is a much more decisive feature of work with young people. The way that you treat teenagers will very much dictate the response that you get. This is enormously ironic of course because those who view teenagers as a problem and therefore approach them on that basis often have their negative prejudices “confirmed!” A person who engages with young people on a warmer level will often experience the encounter much more positively! Now this is obvious at one level but not to everyone! I am often saddened when I have heard accounts of the “shocking behaviour of teenagers” when it seems obvious to me that the aggrieved person has viewed (and indeed treated) them like dirt.
The following is an interesting story and a true one although I am changing a few of the details:
There’s a row of shops where young people like to hang out and the car park of the “Co-Op” is a usual gathering place. On this particular day there were quite a few teenagers congregated although not identifiable as one group. A couple of the lads were getting a bit out of hand and their behaviour was without doubt, out of order.
They were approached by a local businessman who challenged them and the encounter descended into the man being assaulted by one of the youths.
This was reported in the press as “Man assaulted by Youth” and fed the local negative view of young people as a problem.
What the press failed to report and I only heard about via local youth and community workers is very interesting. The man who challenged the youths had not tackled the behaviour but verbally rubbished the teenagers involved, he then allegedly spat in the face of one of the teenagers, it was this I believe that triggered the assault. This is no way condones the assault but sheds an interesting light on it, especially given episodes like John Prescott taking a swing at a protester who threw an egg at him AND I certainly don’t recall any talk of MP’s being barred from public places or being subject to curfew arrangements!
The press also failed to report that it was the other teenagers that had come to the rescue and willingly co-operated with the police over the incident.

2 Replies to “The problem with teenagers: A story”

  1. Respect seems to be a key here, so often the people of our generation expect respect from younger generations, which to a point is fair, but how can we gain their respect if we are not prepared to show it to them in the first place, we need to lead by example not by trying to be more bolshy otherwise the competition just gets out of hand. Look to Jesus how did he deal with confrontation certainly not by trying to come across as stronger or louder although in the end it was of course his humility that perhaps grabbed the attention of many people rather than those with the louder voice.

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