Bloody Teenagers

I live near a lovely village in East Cork called Killeagh. It’s a small village that’s blessed with a public woodland tucked in behind it.  The wood is full of walks, and a great playground for younger kids.

The playground was the work of a local committee who managed to source the land, the funding and the goodwill to get it built.  We’re quite proud of it.

And this year it was vandalised

Not too long after there was a meeting.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it.  However, I heard after that someone was arguing for a higher fence to be installed, so as to keep out the anti-social element.

It strikes me that this is a particularly curmudgeonly way to a) view the whole affair and b) fix the problem.  I kinda doubt a few extra feet of fence would keep out anybody determined.

I suspect this man was at the meeting
(From the brilliant pen of John Connolly – The Wolf in Winter)

The whole affair got me thinking about the mindset of the individual(s) concerned, and how they view teenagers. 

You can see the arguments develop, can’t you?

 And yes, teenagers do get involved in risky behaviours:

  • Teenagers can be moody (shocker)
  • Some teenagers drink too much
  • Some teenagers smoke
  • Some teenagers engage in self-destructive behaviours
  • Some teenagers engage in risky sexual behaviours
  • Some teenagers can engage in anti-social behaviour

But you know what?  Teenagers are amazing

  • Teenagers sleep out every year in Dublin to raise money and awareness for homelessness.
  • On the quiet, many teenagers help out at home in a big way.  They visit grandparents, they help care for others in the family.  They take on a role far greater than we usually know about.  And they do it without any great praise.
  • Teenagers help charities.  How many teenagers go through the mammoth fundraising task of going to India to help street children?  That’s incredible!
  • Teenagers help out in local clubs, committees and societies.  They do this not for any pay, but because they enjoy it, and see it as a good thing to do.

So, whenever I hear the begrudgers giving out about teenagers, I tend to think of the generosity of spirit and the goodness that I’ve seen in the many teenagers I’ve had the privilege to know.

Headlines are easy.  It’s much more challenging to look beyond the drama of that, read further into it, and come up with your own conclusion.

Bloody Hell. 
Teenagers Are Amazing

Formerly Honourable

Sometimes you just have to wonder what people are thinking when they talk about teenagers and what they get up to in schools.

In this article in the Avondhu newspaper in Fermoy from August 28th, it seems that a formor local councilor thinks that some arson attacks in the area will be solved once students get back to school.

“Maybe it’s because the schools are on holidays” he says.  Really, Cllr O’Donovan?  Just what does he think happens within the four walls of a school?  What does he actually think of young people?

Does he perhaps worry that teachers and other staff need stab-vests in school?  Is he hoping that we will install metal detectors and security guards?  Maybe the poor man has been watching too much dodgy telly.

It’s also possible that he hasn’t seen the inside of a school in a very long time and just doesn’t know what a challenging, interesting and rewarding place a school is.

No two days are the same, no two class groups are the same.  And just as the philosophers debated if the same river passes under a bridge, the group you meet today could generate a totally different dynamic tomorrow.

Schools are great places to be.  The chance to see students learn, develop, mature and go on to college or other walks of life is hugely satisfying.  And this all happens in the 21st century, not in some kind of Dickensian workhouse.

So whatever our formerly honourable councillor  was thinking, he was being thoroughly unfair to students and schools.

Utterances like this make me think it’s just as well that some of the councils were abolished this year.