Hoodies, tracksuits, trainers, gangs, troublemakers, chavs. Those are the words that most people come out with when you ask them to describe a young person. But why is that? It hardly seems fair that all young people are branded with these awful stereotypes when in actual fact most young people aren't these things. Just because someone wears a certain item of clothing doesn't mean that they're a 'trouble maker' or a 'chav'. What it actually means is that they're human and wearing clothes. I feel as if I can't go out wearing a hoodie or tracksuit bottoms without being branded with this stereotype. Why am I letting a stereotype make me feel uncomfortable about what I wear in public?
Why is it when I walk past shops it says one or two school children at a time? Why is it when a young person offered to help a lady off the bus the other day she looked in horror and promptly said no? Why am I constantly only reading bad publicity about young people instead of good? I think that's slightly unfair representation don't you? We all know that there is good and bad in everyone no matter their age, race, gender, sexuality etc. You are always going to have a minority ruining it for everyone else. However, young people seem to be branded more than anyone else when in fact we're no different to anyone else.
Yes we may be younger than everyone else, but we make up 20% of the population. We are the 20% that are going to develop and become the next batch of Doctors, Nurses, Police, MPs etc. but most people seem to forget that. Just because we're young doesn't necessarily mean we're stupid or don't understand. Instead of shutting the door on us you should be helping us, supporting us and encouraging us to succeed. People need to realise that not everything they read in the paper or on the internet is the truth. We all know better than anyone that newspapers and news sites exaggerate and sometimes twist things just to get more people interested.
What about all the good things young people do? The young carers, who instead of going out with friends stay at home looking after a family member. What about the young people who spend their time volunteering to help make a difference within their community. What about the young people who are at home studying for exams so that they are able to get somewhere in life. Or the young people who are working instead of studying so they can help support themselves and their families. These, of course, are never the stories that we get to read. It's young people like this who should be role models for others. Not the falling-off-the-edge celebrities, doing drugs, practicing crazy diets and other obscene things. Luckily enough for me I soon realised that I didn't want to be like any of these celebrities, I wanted to make a real difference and that's what I still do.
Society needs to stop closing doors on young people and start opening them up. After all, we are the future.
By Michaella Philpot