|There is much to be said about surviving adolescence. What is going on in the lives of our preteens, and teens? There are huge pressures on teens today, as in the issues of pairing up, boyfriend/girlfriend drama, drama between friends, sexting, fighting, bullying, suicide, cutting, depersonalization, and being disconnected from a community. Living in an age of technological advances has disadvantages, the practicing of social skills has changed. Now teens rely on skyping, texting, facebooking, and chatting online to have contact with others. Face-to-face socializing has decreased. As good as it is, the current school curriculum can’t address all the concerns that our youth have today. There are huge pressures, budget cuts, community and political support issues on the schools themselves. Teens today have schedules that are crammed, academics are more challenging and competitive than they used to be. Sure there are relief counselors, and support counselors on school site, but is this enough? Are the counselors themselves utilized well? One counselor is responsible for so many teens its astounding. What about those teens who want to talk, but can’t, due to peer pressure, family issues, or overwhelming fear? The pyramid structure (the “populars” at the top, of course) of our society is still rigid, and there is a general lack of empathy running through our youth. Practicing the reduction of negative expressed emotion, identifying your feelings, becoming sensitized to your mood and its effect on others, is not valued.
Life is complicated. It isn’t as simple as saying technology gets in the way. On the more serious side, this year, there was a teen suicide that affected many young people and adults, and had ripple effects on the lives of others. Some of those effects possibly will remain unknown to others, because it is so painful to discuss. I know this much, it is held inside those who were affected for the rest of their lives. There is a lot of bravado going on, avoidance, and denial. Many teens were those people who were affected, they needed to verbalize their confusion, sadness, and anger, and sort through the feelings they experienced. There were two other suicides in the area, three years before, the after effects of these devastating deaths seem to have gone underground.
This is a town like many, that doesn’t know how to address the needs of those who fall between the cracks, and are floundering under the pressure that falls on their shoulders. There are teens here, struggling to find a place in the world, and some are teetering in a death defying balancing act. Pride can get in the way of addressing what isn’t working in the community. After all, it’s a nice place to live. However, I’m sure that most teens would definitely suggest that more could be going on here in terms of activities, and finding appropriate outlets for youthful energy. A teen found dead, full of drugs, and nobody really talks about it, accidents in cars that result in death, tragedies happening before our children’s eyes. I am seeing more teens in my practice with depression, more social anxiety, and more bipolar disorder. Yes, I understand that distress is part of our living, but what about the public discussion and exploration of these very profound traumas, and life changing events?