Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: young people and respect

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In our weekly spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few thoughts on showing respect, and generalising the young.

Hello, and a very warm welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters, our little bit of the site where we stop and chat about things that may be affecting us, and/or those around us. We’ve been running this weekly series for a couple of years now, and appreciate that not everything we run will be of use. But hopefully something we pen across this series might be.

This week, a little bit of a chat about respect, and assumptions made over it.

For an assortment of reasons, it’s been in the news over the last week or so the need to particular show the younger members of the population that they need respect. And hand in hand with that is the statement from some that the young don’t have that respect.

I’m sure there are instances where this is the case, and it’s not for me to take away people’s first-hand experiences. Conversely, I just wonder if I can offer a few things to push back on what’s a common, and not always fair, assumption.

Firstly, the idea that the young have no respect is one that never goes away. It’s something that was being said ten, 20, 30 years ago and more. It’s an easy thing to say, oftentimes based either on sweeping generalisations or bad experiences with a few people. And heck, when you encounter a bunch of schoolkids effing and jeffing, it’s also easy to come to that total conclusion. But also, I can’t help feeling that it’s become something of a cliche that doesn’t always recognise the facts. It’s easy to accuse people en masse of not showing respect, and it’s been done for generations.

But secondly, I also see a lot of youngsters who have no shortage of respect. They don’t get the credit for it, but they’re the ones who I’d suggest might just be in the majority. They’re not getting noticed, and I don’t think it’s fair to tar them all with that metaphorical brush.

Thirdly, I think respect comes from examples around, and for any youngsters growing up in the modern world, it must be baffling. To see a news media ecosystem not short of people being rude, obnoxious, bullying and racing to the bottom. And for that same news media ecosystem to then say the young are the problem. It’s not just news media of course. If a youngster doesn’t have examples of respect around them, or things and people to respect, what are they supposed to do? Where are they supposed to learn things?

Like many conversations, this isn’t straightforward. Some youngsters lack respect. Some adults lack respect too. But it solves nothing to paint the blame on, say, everyone under 16 for the problems of the world. It just repeats the same cycle, and on we go.

Like I said, no miracle cures or anything in this piece. Just a quiet request to not coat everyone with the same accusation.

The very best to you all.

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