Tag: BBC

Pressures More Penalising For Today’s Teens

There are some things that are better left in childhood—the way that we mismanage anger, our sole dependence on others to care for us and causing or being subjected to peer pressure just to name a few.

Unfortunately, there is not always a clean break from our growing pains. Peer pressure, in particular, follows us around like a shadow well into old age. I suppose the older we get, the less peers we have. Still there are days, even in my middle age, when peer pressure stares me in the face like the bully it can often be. Nowadays, I have a better handle on saying no and declining experiences that make me uncomfortable but admittedly when I was a teenager, it wasn’t as easy.

And way back when I was a teenager, the pressures, though intense, seemed less punishing. There was pressure to smoke, to cut school, to have sex, just some of the pressures that are handed down through the ages. But nowadays there are loads of new pressures, owing to our modern technology and perhaps shift in mores in society. Let’s face it, our obsessions with our mobile devices, for example, blindfolds us to some of the unnecessary pressures heaped upon children and teens, for example.

The idea of being on all the time is unrealistic to say the least from both a mental and physical health perspective and when we falter at something because we can’t get it right all the time, wouldn’t it be nice to falter in privacy. How refreshing!

Still the pressures of joining in high risk activities are on the rise. For example, I don’t remember ever hearing about sexting, the act of disrobing for the camera, when I was a teen. If it was around, it certainly was never referred to as the norm. People likely saw it for what it was and still is, an illegal activity that carries heavy penalties for both those pushing it and those succumbing to it.

Nowadays, however, the pressure on teens to participate in sexting has become an epidemic in some areas, according to a BBC report. But here is the thing, most teens, girls and boys, alike probably don’t know that this dangerous game is actually illegal. It is not just a moral choice that you make, and though you might regret it, you get on with life. It scars and penalises well into adulthood, not to mention the pain and upset that it causes when it actually happens. A teen girl in a recent BBC story makes it very clear that sexting can never amount to anything good. It made her feel like she was in a zoo.

Sexting destroys lives, full stop, as does other experiences that teen girls are often coerced into as a norm. Thankfully, people in positions to do something about sexting, for example, are waking up to this reality and trying to crack down on it.

The truth is, there are many good reasons to stop and think before engaging in anything uncomfortable, immoral and illegal that you might regret sooner and certainly later in life.

To this end, UIO has a special treat coming up for teen girls that supports putting the brakes on (out later this month), even if everyone else around you seems to be parachuting into adulthood. In the meantime, listen to Episode 10: Peer Pressure Inside Out with Natalie Savvides, for tips on saying no and declining things that you don’t want to do. And do keep an eye on this space for our exciting new initiative, which is all about you.

Holding Hands Today For A Better Tomorrow

I didn’t sleep at all Election night, though I went to bed about 4 a.m. GMT still praying for a miracle for Hillary Clinton. And at 5.22 when I couldn’t help searching out my I-pad in the dark and checking the BBC’s website, I still had this hope. But around 7 a.m. when my I-phone’s alarm stirred me,  though I was wide awake, I turned the television on just in time to see the Clinton hopefuls sent away from the Javits Centre. It was then that I asked Paul if he didn’t mind if we didn’t watch the news any longer.

I re-drew the blinds and crawled back into bed and set my alarm for about 9 a.m. and attempted to go to sleep. But all I could do was listen to my heart pounding, feel my stomach hurting, and then the tears pushing through. I must have lay in my bed for some thirty to forty minutes weeping desperately and passionately. And even when Paul came in to console me, I couldn’t stop the pain, the emptiness, a longing for something, something that evaded me.

So when the time seemed reasonable, I called a local friend, who is not American, but has lived there and continues to love and cherish the country as her own. A compassionate, reasonable person, I knew I could seek refuge in her, a place to openly and honestly talk about how I felt. I thank her dearly for being there for me, for answering my call. And for another friend who called later to see how I was faring. 

But it was only when I hung up from her and texted two long-standing American friends that this expat began to piece together the emotional quagmire I found myself in. Not only was I feeling a bit confused, dumbfounded, I was feeling the heartache of loss, something that sits deep within the gut and churns. And in this state, I longed for something that had passed, something that no longer existed.

This loss reminded me of a personal time when I saw the values around me change, when I experienced things that I thought could never happen in my world. This loss reminded me of when the unreasonable becomes reasonable, when the abnormal becomes normal. When the very values that life, community has been built on become devalued, when the world crumbles.

In that moment, I crawled out of bed, put the alarm off and headed for the shower. Now all I could seem to think about was my 13-year-old niece. Four years is a long time, I mumbled to myself. She’ll be 17 when this is all over and done with – a big part of her life will have been shaped.

And as the tears returned and I wept for Jana and for young women all over the US, young men, too, I asked God what could I do to hold her hand, if only metaphorically, and though I didn’t get an answer immediately, I had a sense that it had something to do with keeping the faith.

When I sat to read my scripture for the day—I have been doing so for more than a year now through my church, The Bible in One Year, I read these words from Psalm 21: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?…

And then I reviewed what Nicky Gumbel, our vicar, had to say about the psalm. “Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up.”

At that moment, I reflected upon the state of worry I had been in all night and into the morning and though it still resides within me on some level, I decided then that it would have no permanent place in my gut.

I would have to look upwards and onwards, if I was going to be of any use to anyone. On this note, I encourage anyone who shares my grief to do the same thing. We must look to the future but in doing so remember that what we do today defines it definitively—the future, that is.

On that note, I leave you with words from an email from Hillary Clinton to supporters:  “Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.”

Yes, Hillary I will, and not just for me, and for you and what you stand for, but for Jana and her generation, for Chandler and Chas, and theirs, too, and for everyone, with a view to re-shape, restore morals and values that will serve us steadily now and forevermore.