Monday, April 16, 2007

Wasted Youth?

Another discussion on TV and another question for me: Are the young people in my country as bad as they seem?

It's true, there are bad things happening: violent videos on their cell phones, sexual phrases in their language (which my generation of 30+ did not know at that age), flat rate parties (where they can drink as much as they like after paying the entrance fee) and other stuff like that (including, of course, violent music and violent games - but this is not a "Killerspiele"-Update, so I'll keep it short).

On the other hand ... what did we have at that age? We still had "Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll" (although not the 'old-school'-stuff), violent videos on TV and video cassettes and sure, we did drink alcohol as well (though usually beer, because 'alco-pops' were not yet invented).

Violence has increased, they say. That is statistically true, I think, but I wonder if there doesn't seem to be even 'more' of it because of the media. There aren't many reports about the good kids who go through puberty the 'normal' way (with a few rows with his/her parents, maybe a few beers even though he/she was told not to drink, a little sex with the first - or second - boy-/girlfriend). That is the normal way to grow up - and yes, I think it still is.

But on TV the only teenagers you normally see are those who commit crimes, drink until they (almost) die or do other 'horrible' stuff (like playing "Killerspiele" - sorry, I couldn't help it here). You hear about teenager mothers - but nobody tells the audience "actually, about 90% of the girls have their first sex between 13 and 15, but most of them know how to use a condom or the pill correctly". You hear about violent teenagers (who usually come from the lowest classes and live in a violent surrounding in which only strength and brutality grant you respect and relative safety) - but nobody tells the audience "actually about every boy between 12 and 18 gets into fights sometimes and may or may not hurt an opponent gravely".

It's mainly due to the media the teenagers today seem to be 'bad'. They pick out the bad examples and make it seem as if that is the majority. But I think - even though I only know a couple of kids myself - that most teenagers aren't that different from their parents during that time. They want to grow up and they slowly outgrow their parents' life and rules. They want to learn about life and have to make both the good and the bad experiences themselves (like the first hangover or the first romantic date). They want to lead a good life one day - and today that means working hard at school to get good grades so you have a chance to get a good job after school.

And what is society doing about the 'problem'? Not much, actually. There's talk - but talk is a cheap way not to solve a problem. There are a few isolated tries to actually change the situation of the kids from lower classes which usually live in some kind of ghetto. But there's no straight lines, nothing that's the same everywhere.

Germany still has to change its rather unfair school system (which splits the kids up into three different types of school at the age of 12), we still don't have day-care for all young kids, we still have to solve the problem of the many kids whose parents both work, leaving them alone during the whole day.

Maybe solving those problems would also solve the problem with some of the teenagers (there's no way to solve the problems of all teenagers, of course, but there could be less violent or pregnant teenagers around).

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