Youth culture

There is a distinctive kind of expression by which young people demonstrate which is generally different from the accepted culture of their community. These methods by which the youth express themselves and communicate are known as youth culture. (Wikipedia). It is said that young people have their own subculture that is unique to themselves. This was believed to have started because of the economic and political climate that was most dominant during the 20th century, after World War II (Wikipedia).

Today’s youth are not entirely dependent on their parents for their knowledge and opinions. They have become more independent as time goes on. There are many changes that  they undergo and it takes extra effort to really understand all of their behavior (Taylor, Carl 2003). In most of the social problems encountered by today’s young adults, the critical factor is the role of parents and educational institutions in forming, molding and strengthening of children and young adults’ values.  This is best captured in one of the reflections given by a father in his encounter with his children. Just listening to his children, looking them in the eye, and getting himself into their minds and hearts establish a strong relationship of care and trust and openness. This paper maintains that smoking must be legalized at age 21, just as in drinking.

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Cigarettes are the most heavily advertised consumer product. Every year, tobacco    companies spend nearly $4 billion on cigarette advertising and promotion in the United States alone according to The Economist, published in May 16, 1992. Add to this the fact that young people rely on their peers for approval. When they do not feel that they belong, research sees the specific influence of family difficulties on adolescent depression that has been made linking it with smoking more and more cigarettes.

The study was based on the clinical data summaries of children and adolescents who attended the Maudsley Hospital during the 1970s and 1980s. The study concluded that although depression is the largest single risk factor for teenage deviance such as smoking of cigarettes, family relationship difficulties make a significant independent contribution to this risk (Hollis, C. 1996). Thus, smoking cigarettes can be an outlet for these people who are of age to decide on their future.

Psychology in raising the youth

In raising teens, Covey (1999, 100) highlights the importance of being sensitive to the tendency of the youth to reject. According to him, this tendency of teenagers comes from their fear of being rejected. Their rejection experiences make them “pull back into a kind of shell to protect themselves from being rejected again.” This could be aggravated by parents who refuse to look honestly at what their children are doing; even denying that there is a problem, making excuses for their child, or blaming the school, teachers, family, friends, or society.  “Fixing” the child’s problems by giving in to demands, justifying rebelliousness is just a normal part of adolescence. Compromising the parents’ own values just to keep the peace at home or maintain a veneer of harmony is not an uncommon solution. If and when the worst situation comes up, the decision to intervene remains with the parents and not with the juvenile justice system. Yet, parents are often at a loss on what best to do.

Sensitive years

Another possible cause why more teenagers are smoking now is because adolescence is the transitional stage of development between childhood and full adulthood,  representing the period of time during which a person is biologically adult but emotionally not at full maturity. The ages which are considered to be part of adolescence vary by culture. In the United States, adolescence is generally considered to begin around age 13, and end around 24.  Adolescence can be a scary time, full of angst and new emotions.  It is also a time when the tremendous amount of energy of young people can contribute to many worthwhile projects.  The more parents and teachers can do to engage teenagers, the more likely it is that young people will have a successful transition to adulthood. Adolescence is a time of emotional turmoil, mood liability, gloomy introspection, great drama and heightened sensitivity. It is a time of rebellion and behavioral experimentation.

Taylor (2003)  continues in his journal about the youth culture today that it is important that people realize that the youth must be also be equated with positive values instead of the stereotyped association of urban youth with criminality and juvenile delinquency. This is important so as not to establish a self-fulfilling prophecy about this.

In most of the social problems encountered by today’s young adults, the critical factor is the role of parents and educational institutions in forming, molding and strengthening of children and young adults’ values.  This is best captured in one of the reflections given by a father in his encounter with his children. Just listening to his children, looking them in the eye, and getting oneself into their minds and hearts establish a strong relationship of care and trust and openness.

In raising teens, Covey (1999, 100) highlights the importance of being sensitive to the tendency of the youth to reject. According to him, this tendency of teenagers comes from their fear of being rejected. Their rejection experiences make them “pull back into a kind of shell to protect themselves from being rejected again.” This could be aggravated by parents who refuse to look honestly at what their children are doing; even denying that there is a problem, making excuses for their child, or blaming the school, teachers, family, friends, or society.

“Fixing” the child’s problems by giving in to demands, justifying rebelliousness is just a normal part of adolescence. Compromising the parents’ own values just to keep the peace at home or maintain a veneer of harmony is not an uncommon solution. If and when the worst situation comes up, the decision to intervene remains with the parents and not with the juvenile justice system. Yet, parents are often at a loss on what best to do. All too often, parents seek counsels from all who could give professional, religious and forms of advice.

They meet with their children’s teachers, and consult doctors, ministers or other respected adults or experts.  But solutions remain elusive as problems arise due to lack of cooperation, resistance or sheer evasiveness of the child. These results in more tension-filled homes making those affected withdrawn and torn as their own parents. Separation and divorce become handy devises for parents. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of stress as adolescence is in itself a complex developmental stage. Smoking will provide a good alternative instead of possessing guns.

 Besides there are a lot of factors that underscore the fact that the role of the family in providing a cushion for young people as they go through their adolescence. Resilience in youth can be built to create a positive mental health by the families and friends to which they belong. (Taylor, Carl 2003).

Often, several youth cliques with similar norms and values coalesce into larger. More loosely organized aggregations. Not only do cliques permit adolescents to express their values and try out new roles as they begin their quest to forge an identity apart from their families, but they also pave the way for the establishment of other mature relationships (Brown, 1990).

Conclusion

Young people today are defining themselves through hip-hop culture, new breeds of alternative music and a host of other methods. (Taylor, Carl 2003). Dr. Wharton eloquently deemed it “tribalism” and the young followers of today’s musical genres, whether they are devotees of Marilyn Manson or Marshall Mathers, The failure of generations of parents and other adults to attempt to understand and communicate with young people has lead to countless incidents of suffering throughout communities.

Legalizing smoking may help youth in that delicate transition stage and even make him aware of the benefits of healthy living and make more firm resolutions for life. We must ask ourselves how many unfortunate circumstances and situations might have not occurred had the proper interventions been used with a young person throughout the years. Today we have the opportunity to begin a new method of thinking and engaging our young, for the betterment of our society and ourselves (Taylor, Carl 2003).

WORKS CITED

Covey, Stephen R. Living the 7 Habits. (1999)

Taylor, Carl. “Understanding Youth Culture.” Journal of Urban Youth Culture Introductory Editorial. February 2003

Trends in Child Databank. (April 2005)  Retrieved Feb. 6, 2007 at: www.childstrenddatabank.org

“Youth Culture.” Wikipedia Retrieved Feb. 6, 2007 at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_culture

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