The importance of teenage years | Sunday Observer

The importance of teenage years

Unlike in Western countries there is no respect or understanding for children with a physical disability or impairment. We have come across incidents where a child wearing spectacles for reading is bullied. Likewise, a student wearing a hearing aid is branded with a nickname, and this name calling afflicts the young person with shame and damages their self-esteem.

The teenage years of a person’s life are very important, as this is the foundation that prepares them to be mature and productive adults. Needless to say childhood is also a key stage in the growth of the human mind. Advocating the rights of teenagers is a young teacher Dinesha Gamage with 14 years of experience in dealing with students. She is also a trained counselor, who said “Every school has students from different backgrounds. Every child has his or her own mannerisms and behavior patterns. Children are influenced by their parents, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends.

As teachers we need to take time and know each of our students - their strengths and weaknesses. It is only then that we can effectively communicate with children, especially teenagers and guide them to become good adults when they finally leave school”.

Common issues among teenage students today include fear of exams, the pressure to balance and excel in academic pursuits and sports, influence from friends who force them to engage in drugs/alcohol, keeping up with perceived fashion which is often not age appropriate, fitness mania which forces some teenagers especially young girls to induce all forms of food restrictions in order to maintain a figure to impress their classmates. Another common problem in schools is bullying. Mrs. Gamage adds “Unlike in Western countries there is no respect or understanding for children with a physical disability or impairment. We have come across incidents where a child wearing spectacles for reading is bullied. Likewise a student wearing a hearing aid is branded with a nickname, and this name calling afflicts the young person with shame and damages their self-esteem. It is only a few years ago that students with autism or dyslexia were able to attend schools for children with special needs or slow learners. Decades ago such children were in regular classes and were subject to insults and forms of bullying”.

It is believed that teenagers who display ‘naughty’ or ‘violent’ tendencies in a classroom are often children from broken homes and hurting families.

These children don’t receive the love and attention of their parents and they in turn become stubborn and attention seeking. Other young children suffer at home from the rage of an alcoholic father. Still others come from families where the mother is working in the Middle East and have no care at home. In other classroom situations children who receive constant praise from teachers for good performance earn the jealousy of other students who would gang up on them. The desire to join and excel in sports teams is another cause of mental stress among teenagers. Some are rejected from teams due to lack of physical fitness and become sad. Others have talent but are overpowered by rich parents who induce the coach to take their child into the team.

In rural areas teenagers are not aware of puberty and its impact on their bodies. In the major cities on the other hand teenagers are plagued with the use of narcotic substances. They have ambitions that are put into their minds by parents, who often want to boast. Instead each teenager must chose their future career considering their own skills and enjoy what they plan to do.

Mrs. Gamage is also of the opinion that teachers must learn sign language, even if they teach in a regular school- they can assist hearing impaired children in their neighborhood or Sunday schools. Every young person must be imparted with not only book knowledge but also the discernment to use that along with self-confidence. These young adults must be mature to enter university and enjoy the process of learning. It is only then that they can enter the corporate world and be productive citizens. (DJ)

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