The renowned playwright Oscar Wilde is attributed as once famously saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’. Young people are often maligned today for wasting their lives with the proverbial sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll readily available to them in this modern world. If it’s not young people binge drinking, then it’s probably young people racing cars on our suburban roads. If it’s not violent youth gangs roaming the streets, then it might be young people running away overseas and not paying off their student loans.
There is a growing perception locally and internationally that young people are lazy, getting into trouble and are generally a problem that must be solved. From the UK riots through to our ‘crack-down’ on boy-racers and their cars, there is a perception that young people are essentially trouble. Is this actually the case? Is this the reality?
Like the comical picture of a pussy cat looking into the mirror and seeing a lion, our perception may not be an accurate reflection of reality. The actual experiences of our children and young people can sometimes differ greatly from the messages and debates that happen in the public arena
In the lead up to the election, there will definitely be political debate about our children and young people. The debate around our young will likely be framed by this emerging trend of demonising young people in the media and in our society. But our young people can’t all be that bad? Can they?
As you contemplate the political debates and various policies presented to you, we invite you to consider focusing on the realities that children and young people are facing rather than focussing on the perceptions and sexy headlines that politicians and the media will push. Here are a few specific realities for children and young people that our politicians might not talk about at length in the next few weeks.
These issues are critical for the future development of our nation, but they are equally important for the immediate present, as our young people today are often the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised in our society, perhaps even in our world. For the young and the young at heart (which essentially covers us all), it is crucial that we keep trying to engage with, and understand, the actual reality of each issue.