When you search Google for ‘Young People Today’; here’s a few of the headlines of the top pages that you’re presented with:
- “Are young people today worse than ever?”
- “Is today’s generation of young people in crisis?”
- “The top 10 challenges facing young people today.”
- “The problem with young people today is…”
You see – here’s the problem – so many people waste time trying to compare today’s generation of young people with what they think they might remember of young people from their own generation – and it’s not possible to do this; our worlds are different.
It is true that young people today face challenges; some of which are unlike those which previous generations of young people will have faced. We know that young people are concerned about things such as:
- Lack of economic opportunity and unemployment
- Political stability (but who isn’t right now?!)
- Safety, security, and well being
- And having a sense of belonging
However – I am fortunate to be able to see first hand a different perspective. I, along with many thousands of colleagues, across many organisations in the third sector, volunteer our time to provide opportunities for young people to develop skills for life. We deliver opportunities that the public purse can no longer afford, and we help young people to develop:
- a sense of belonging, which helps them to find their place in society
- a strong balance between empathy and resilience, which improves mental wellbeing and helps them to connect with other people of all ages
- greater levels of independence, balanced with the ability to work in teams
- improved perseverance and grit
- the courage to take risks, and tackle challenging things in life
- into global citizens, ready for a new world
I’ve spent today helping to celebrate the significant achievements of hundreds of young people, of all years, from across Merseyside Scouts who have dedicated many years to improving themselves and to making their contribution to society. And, I tell you, don’t believe the headlines. Many young people, albeit facing challenges, are filled with optimism and drive – they want to play their part in society and they want to succeed in life.
Let’s help them – not label or hinder them.
Let’s celebrate the great things they do and the bright futures they’re building. And be proud of the way the vast majority of our young people are living their lives, the contribution they’re making to society today – and the unquantifiable contribution they will make in the future.