Opinion Piece – Vulnerable Youth 18 to 25
The struggle of the youth in the 60’s and 70’s might be over, but the youth of today have greater challenges, which can be deceiving because it is not always visible.
We are living in the era of information and technology and the youth are exposed to the wrong kind of information because of sites like mixit and other obscene sites which are only known to most of the youth.
This type of information and exposure is crippling and debilitating and adds no value or development to our youth in terms of literacy and numerically.
What does the youth need?
- Self worth and purpose – If these two aspects are not in place all the other resources will mean nothing to the youth. Many young people see themselves as unworthy and purposeless because of their socio–economic circumstances.
- Healthy domestic structure – A young person will find self worth in a healthy family environment and because of that they will know what their purpose in society and the country is and that is to build a healthy, loving and productive country.
- Motivation – Unlike the youth of the past (generation x) who had one goal in mind and that is, liberation, the youth of today (generation y) are not really motivated to mount to anything much because the challenges are not so intense. Generation Y expects Generation X to provide for them and to keep them even when they are grown up. That is why so many young people choose to stay at home and live on granny’s pension instead of getting educated/skilled and doing an honest job. Please note, this is not always the case.
- Socio-economic upliftment and development – This is really the responsibility of Generation X seeing that we are in power and we are managing this country. Giving a minimal grant to a family means nothing if people are not educated how to budget, how to create more money and how to sustain themselves. We will continue to maintain a poverty stricken society if we continue to do this. Our youth should be taught to take ownership of ‘themselves’ by giving them tools to sustain themselves even while they are still at school. The reason why young girls have sex with adult (sometimes married men) is because of money, this should be prevented by all means. Our young men become drug dealers because they need money, nobody ever decides to become a drug dealer one day, it is because of their socio-economic situation that they end up doing that.
- Education – The ideal would be that education should be free of charge one day, than all children will be on the same level where education is concerned. It is sad to know that so many youths don’t attend good schools due to a lack of resources like, school uniform, school bags, writing material. Every child has the right to good education and not what most of our children are exposed to at the moment.
- Recreational activities – “Man shall not live by bread alone”, so shall “youth not live by education alone” but by recreational and creative activities. It has been proven that creative activities enhances and stimulates academic performance at school or even on a social level. Therefor the assistance of experts in the different fields should be utilized in schools and other community venues.
- Information – Not all youth are informed of issues that are happening around them, and those who do are apathetic. The reason is, the information is not relevant to them. Information centers in communities informing youth about events, work, training, learnership programmes, and political issues regarding personally will be beneficial especially if it is managed by the youth member themselves. Knowledge is power and that is what we should strive to do – Give the youth power to assist in building a stronger and informed nation.
- Family support – The world is big and cold, but if a young person gets the support of their family than they can face any storm and fight of any adversary. Most of the families consists of a single parent and children, other families consists of children only and than there’s the “normal” family with both parents, but it does not mean the latter is better of because we sometimes find emotionally absent parents and that can be equally damaging. In the case of family support it is also important that the church and other community groups take initiative to support these families emotionally and spiritually.
- Spiritual Input – A family that stays together, have to pray together. This might sound irrelevant but it is as important as all the above, if a young person does not know that there is a God who cares about them, they will perceive all their disappointments as the end of the world and they will live without Hope. We are threading on dangerous ground because church has taken a back seat in so many instances that the possibility is there that it would be seen as taboo in the near future (the European churches has turned into museums). The only way to prevent this from happening is to bring church into the homes so that the family can attend church as a unit.
- Love – This cannot be reiterated more. We grew up in a society where the word love is only used in movies, in books and other media sources and this is misconstrued and misleading. If a young girl does not receive love from her Dad especially she will fall for the 1st guy who will end up abusing because he sees her neediness. Likewise, a young man who grows up without the love and support of a Father becomes a misfit and a manic to society.
All the above is but a small part of what the youth need but it is a part that is very important and can be achieved if everyone, including the youth can contribute their bit.
The ideal is, if one adult can take responsibility over one youth member that we have won half the battle, but to get our society to that point is going to be a great challenge because we still sit with adults who need growing.
Our hope is in the youth because they are the future and we have to invest in them in the present.
Fatima Abdul, Care-Giver
Villa of Hope ‘Youth Independent Living Programme’ – 2011