In the preceding discussion it was established to some extent that social and community values, attitudes and beliefs have a major impact on the way that adolescent children are portrayed and how parents are also portrayed. Even so there is still a lot of contradictory evidence out there (Eckersley in Rowling, Martin & Walker, 2001, 73) about the perception of youth – their own views versus those of others.

Postmodern views of youth, according to Eckersley, tend to paint a rosy picture of dynamic youth as a global generation who are well educated and technologically savvy.

It is important for parents to have some idea of what youth are facing and how they are being portrayed, because the popular media can significantly impact on youth thinking and behaviours. As an example of the inconsistency in the portraiture of youth, a fairly recent survey, according to Eckersly (cited in Rowling, Martin & Walker, 2001, 73) found that:

‘89% of students aged 13-15 years in Victoria were satisfied with ‘their life in general these days’ (Gatehouse Project, Centre for Adolescent Health, Melbourne; personal communication with George Patton). And yet the same study found over 40% of the students felt that they did not have anyone who knew them very well – that is, who understood how they thought or felt.

Almost a quarter said they had no-one to talk to if they were upset, no-one they could trust and no-one to depend on (Glover et al. 1998). Another study, again in Victoria and undertaken at about the same time, found 25-40% of students aged 11-18 years experienced in the previous 6 months feelings of depression, worries about weight, worries about self-confidence, troubles sleeping, and not having enough energy (Waters et al. 1999).’

Given these findings it would appear that it is no wonder that parents have some difficulties in trying to cope with a problem adolescent child. The study in Victoria highlighted some of the mental health issues or problems that a significant number of youth in that study experienced. So at this point it may be worth examining some of the problems because understanding may help parents better understand their children and provide some insights into how to cope a bit better.

Studies in other western countries show very similar data and trends to those described by Eckersley, so as a parent the issues are similar world-wide relating to alarming levels of youth depression, male youth suicide, eating disorders amongst others. Each of these youth related problems have similar root social causes and high modern culture continues to raise its head time and time again as a culprit.

That being said however let’s explore the main problem issues raised in many of the research studies – keep an eye for upcoming posts!