Teenagers and school
For young adults, on the edge of adulthood, negotiating concepts of freedom and dependence, family and schools are important. Melbourne psychologist, Dr Michael Carr Gregg believes that central to a teenager’s wellbeing is a positive sense of connectedness and identity. Teenagers “have to figure out who they are – get an identity; get themselves good friends; have some kind of emancipation
(freedom) from their mums and dads – some sort of separation. And they have to connect with an educational institution, so they have some kind of vocational (professional) direction in life.”
A study of year 8 and 12 school students conducted by the Centre for Adolescent Health at
Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital by Professor George Patton (of year 8 and 12 students) found that teenagers are more positive about themselves when they have a good sense of belonging and connection to the school environment. Furthermore, they are less likely to indulge in behaviour that can be destructive and dangerous when schools are prepared to listen to them and respond to their needs. If children feel heard they are likely to feel valued and this may determine whether they treat themselves and their peers with care and respect.
Professor for Adolescent Health, George Patton, said most people in the group “remained connected in a positive way to their peers and their school and to what education was about. They felt that school was a better place to be, that it had something to offer them and that they didn’t have to look elsewhere for something to make them feel good about themselves.
Contrastingly, an inability to find a purpose and a sense of belonging can be detrimental to one’s self esteem. Arie Eddie is typical of many 18-year-old youths who are struggling to find employment and they feel that they lack a purpose and a sense of belonging. Official figures suggest that up to 14 per cent of youths are unemployed and the situation is worse in regional Victoria where Arie lives. After being rejected by more than 740 employers he states “It constantly makes me feel worthless. It makes me feel like I don’t have any purpose and every day is hard to get through. I feel like I have no need to be around if I haven’t got a job,” Arie said. Contrastingly, Nick Jones who is participating in a