Saturday, 26 April 2014

"But they're hardly in the majority": Why do we always focus on the negative?

As I said in my last post, I am currently cleaning out over 20 years of resources, media clippings and the like ... I thought that I would share another with you. This one comes from the Daily Telegraph in April 2008 and still goes down as one of the best things I have ever read on the subject of young people - hard to believe that I would ever say that about the 'Tele' but you've got to give credit where credit is due!
The background to this piece was that Corey Worthington (the Victorian young man who had thrown a party that had gotten completely out of control when an invitation was posted on social media) had been making headlines across the country for all the wrong reasons with his party antics and his sullen attitude. He had been thrust in front of TV cameras and not surprisingly had said all of the 'wrong things', confirming what many adult Australians believed - that our young people were out of control and were worse than they'd ever been before. His interview on A Current Affair with Leila McKinnon caused a sensation and went viral when he refused to take responsibility for his actions, as well as ignoring her request to remove his now famous sunglasses while she was talking to him ...
That was in January and Corey had continued to receive media attention, even making an appearance on the reality show, Big Brother. This Opinion Piece appeared in the paper some months after Corey's infamous party and although he features prominently, it really is all about the other young man pictured ...

Brock Curtis-Mathew had found himself in the headlines when he dove into the sea to try to rescue his 16 year old mate, Peter Edmonds off Lighthouse Beach in northern NSW. With the shark circling, Brock helped his seriously injured schoolfriend back to the beach and then ran to raise the alarm. Unfortunately his efforts were in vain as his friend died shortly afterwards.
"I knew he was in a lot of trouble and although I was almost back on the beach I just went back into the water to help him," he was reported as saying at the time. "I could see the dark shape of a shark but I just wanted to get him out."
It was this act of bravery and his humble attitude when interviewed by the media in the days afterward that prompted Fiona Connolly to write the Opinion Piece I have included in this post. It should also be noted that in addition to the attention that Corey and his antics had continued to attract, in the week prior to this piece being published there had also been a number of attacks apparently carried out by teenage gangs. Talkback radio was buzzing with calls for curfews and increased policing. Young people were getting completely out of control and something had to be done about it!

Unfortunately, the link to Fiona's original piece is not operational but I would like to highlight three sections that clearly show what she was trying to get across ...

"For all of us, his story should be a lesson learned - never judge a teenager by his flannie."
"And yes, today's teenagers binge drink, they smoke, they take drugs, they skip school, they shoplift …. But they're hardly in the majority. The rest, between seeing the school counsellor after being bullied, or managing an eating disorder while waiting up late each night to catch five minutes with Mum and her boyfriend, not to mention remembering to take their ADHD drugs, well they aren't doing too badly."
"There are more than a few good eggs among our teenagers out there. Surely we can cop the good ones a break and stop this collective whingeing about today's youth …"

I couldn't say it better myself!

It is all too easy to focus on the negative, particularly when it comes to our young people. There will always be examples of those who do the 'wrong thing' and they get so much attention because they feed into all the stereotypes that exist about 'out-of-control teens', but there are also so many amazing young people that never get any attention.Wouldn't it be great to give them a little bit of media time once in a while?

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