Published in Suns Newspapers August 2016


Periodic survey results confirm that children and young people are filled with uncertainty about the world’s future. Apprehensions are fuelled by all too regular stories about death and destruction by wars and pestilence. How do children digest issues that range from the Syrian conflict and terrorism to the threat of the Zika virus.

We cannot hide news of what is happening in the world from young people. Nor should we attempt to do so. They are more aware of issues than we may realise. While political, environmental and social issues are not new, media technologies mean that microscopic reporting and instant feedback give more immediate insights than in past years. Many young people have access to social media through iPhones and other personal devices. What is happening in the world is brought to their awareness through applications on these devices. Their perceptions may well be confused.

Young people also talk with each other. They discuss issues and share information in the same way as adults. The use of social media offers a communications context but children also converse about what is happening in life’s world.

Children have deep seated concerns and wonder about the future. The ‘Raising Children’s Network’ (Google) has an abundance of entries, materials and reports on the subject of anxieties confronting children. Beth Arky, writing for ‘Understood’ (Google) identifies six common fears faced by young people. Central to these are the fear of personal failure and concerns about the future. It is important that parents and teachers discuss issues with their children at home and students in classes. Part of this should be careful inquiry to ask about things that might be on their minds.

Issues creating uncertainly and apprehension cannot be explained away. However, conversations that consider matters children find confronting can help alleviate the fear that compounds when people hide their feelings and sweat on matters of concern. Sharing conversation shows that no-one is alone when it comes to worrying about where our communities, the Territory, Australia and the world are heading. Discussions at home and school can help formulate coping strategies and management ideas.

‘Behind the News’ and similar programs can help young people understand issues. These programs also help inform discussion.

Anything that can be done to offer peace of mind for young people in these confused times is important to their feelings of well-being. Understanding matters now, may help them become future solution finders.

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