Stereotypes: Teenagers get blamed for everything


Posted: Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Within my neighborhood a letter recently was passed among the residents. It was about the theft of some cherished mementos from a family within the area.

At first glance, sympathy about what had been taken pulled upon my heartstrings.

Reading further, however, it became clear it wasn’t a warning about neighborhood security or someone asking for others to keep a wary eye, nor did it seek sympathy. The letter was, I believe, a blatant accusation of area teenagers and their fictitious part in the theft of these treasured items.

Accusations against teens have a commonplace ring to them. Many times have I heard, “I don’t want this done because it might invite teens to do something.”

Why are teens blamed for actions that aren’t based upon the majority but the mi-nority, just as it does in matters of ethnicity or religion? I find it appalling that a person could accuse another with no basis for their action other than the color of their skin or their moral beliefs, and yet I hear the same people who claim no racist ties, and those who practice religious tolerance, outright accuse teenagers of unscrupulous acts such as dancing in graveyards or stealing family heirlooms.

The majority of teenagers are as the majority of adults. They work hard at school, as adults do at their jobs, and teens earn what they deserve in most cases.

However, stereotyping has led adults to believe that teenagers are closer to being outside the sociologic norm in the manner of a petty thief or murderer.

In a previous Verbatim article (Clarion Feb. 8 ), a story ran about a party that ended in turmoil for the teen. I understand the parents’ distrust of their child after an incident such as this, but to suspect other children as well?

I’ve heard it said in undertones, in interviews and even to my face, “What is wrong with the youth of today?”

In reply, I ask that instead of looking around, to look behind. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and yet stereotypes abound from perceptions gained through past experience. Are the lessons instilled forgotten at puberty, or have children and adolescents evolved through learning the mistakes made by elder role models?

I am who I am, and I refuse to change that because of a singular view. I don’t stand to impress an onlooker or to radically change perceptions.

There are two voices in my own past that stand out, and the simplicity of their statements has withstood many boundaries and barriers since I heard the words spoken: the first is look at all sides before judgment; and the second said quite simply to think.

I find it hard to believe that all accusations against teens are justified. In the case of my own neighborhood, why would young adults aspiring to be police officers, or ministers, or doctors, feel the need to ruin their futures for trinkets without personal meaning?

Look inside and ask, “Is this the reality or the perception?”

Life lessons aren’t always taught, and experiences must be gained through trial and error, but given a chance to choose between right and wrong, I believe that the values a parent has instilled will shine through. I believe that aspirations and goals are reached through personal experience, whether good or bad.

In politics, the differences are of opinions. If the stereotypes are followed, the president would wear cowboy boots and use a lasso.

If this is the reality, then the murderer and the juror can be one in the same. Now I ask, is reality the stereotype, or will a mindful thought look further than skin deep?

J.M. Revis is a senior at Skyview High School.

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