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Stereotyping of youth

As the Kedron delegate for the Mayors Youth Advisory council I have noticed that now currently, parents view a child’s 13th birthday with doom and gloom. When the fact is, they might be doing themselves and their teenagers a disservice. Although teens have a longstanding reputation of being rebellious, lazy, moody and antisocial it is crucial to remember that this stereotype does not apply to all teenagers! Stereotyping teens behaviour can have an unfortunate effect, that can lead to long-term negative effects. We need to help lift this weight off their shoulders, to help them be the best that they can be and here are some reasons why.

Too often I hear adults commenting on today’s youth in a negative manner: too much technology, lazy, disrespectful, oblivious to the world around them. The list goes on and on. Teens like myself are hearing these negative stereotypes constantly, and it is having a huge impact on our minds and the way we view ourselves and others. It was only until recently that this theory was proven when the National Association of Social Workers said that: generalizing or stereotyping teen behaviour can have negative effects for teens within the community. For example, small convince stores often limit the number of students that can enter at one time, as the owners fear theft. But in fact, 10 adults at the age of 30 and up, yet they are just as capable or even more capable of stealing items. These stereotypes send a strong message of distrust or even dislike to teenagers. If teens are constantly stereotyped with this burden of being bad then chances are, we will live up to it, but if we take away the blaming, the stereotypes the impossibly low or high expectations, then you would be surprised what we are capable of.

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According to new research by Professor of Psychology Christy Buchanan of Wake Forest University found that adolescents whose mothers expected them to take more risks and be more rebellious reported higher levels of risk-taking behaviour than their peers one year later. The same was true for adolescents’ negative expectations. “Higher expectations for risk-taking and rebelliousness predict higher levels of problem behaviour, even controlling for many other predictors of such behaviour”,” Buchanan says.” According to her writings, there are multiple ways that youth stereotypes can be developed. The way we think creates stereotypes: Categorizing people into groups. The way we remember creates stereotypes: The inferences we make creates stereotypes, by assuming the person equals a role. Despite what we hear from the current generating of teenagers like “screen ages” and “generation me “mission Australia’s annual surveys of thousands of teenagers between the ages of 12- 20 constantly indicate friends and family relationships fall under the top two options for the question what you value most, the other options include ‘a range of screen time devices. Even here in our own school stereotypes are being spread by peers like, you aren’t good enough to do that, being on phones all the time and disobeying teachers. The truth is you are giving the stereotype producers just what they need to say things like teens are screen driven, obnoxious and lazy or can’t be bothered.

As the Kedron delegate for the Lord Mayors Youth Advisory Council, I will try my hardest to let teens unleash their inner selves whether it be, creative, sporty, academic or social, let them be the best they can be, by giving them the freedom of choice to choose whom they want to be. You yourself as the council have the power, to initiate change; and if, they make the wrong choice, don’t take it out on all teenagers alike; help them and I am sure that together we can make a world where stereotypes don’t exist. By doing this we will be helping teens to unleash their potential, by removing the negative stereotypes we are lifting a weight of their already heavy shoulders.

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