Then versus now: Reflecting on today’s teen issues

Published on August 12, 2014
Chantel Goulart is a 16-year-old Avon View student who, as part of the co-op class, is job shadowing at the Hants Journal this summer. 

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit in on an interview at the Hants Journal that focused on the topic of underage drug and prescription drug usage. This topic itself is rather interesting to me because, being in high school, I am able to see what adults do not even suspect of their children. It is interesting as it gives an insight into my generation. After all, I am so used to what they do but when I take a step back, as I am doing right now, I am a bit stunned at what I find.

As I enter Grade 12 this coming fall, I have been exposed to underage drinking, "hotboxing" of cars, the smoking of weed on school property, and the normalcy of so many students smoking cigarettes.

Even in middle school, students are already getting into the same things. By the time they enter Avon View these habits will be commonplace.

The large shock to me is how normal it seems to my peers — that this is what has become of our generation. It's like it is not a big deal when in fact it is.

Why is it that teens have become so obsessed with trying everything? I see them making resolutions for their year, planning to accomplish getting high during the summer or making this the year they participate in hotboxing a car. For those of you who may not be aware, hotboxing is when a group of people smoke marijuana in an enclosed space so that the smoke from the drug is left in the air, unable to escape and thus is breathed in to allow a higher narcotic effect.

As close as I am alongside them, I still do not quite understand the interest found in being a part of those moments. Is it the story you can tell afterwards, or is it just to say you did it? Really, in all honesty, I doubt they could give you an accurate answer. It seems to be a bit more complicated than originally expected.

It seems to be truly remarkable how swift change can be. I am surprised by how much middle school students are exposed to considering I was in their shoes mere years ago.

I didn't have as much pressure as they are experiencing now because it almost seemed as if it wasn't yet present. At that time, it was still a bit of a shock to hear my fellow classmates swear, even as childish as their choices of words had been. It simply baffles me that nowadays, you  can see little elementary school students swearing at their parents or managing to diminish each sentence they say by wedging in five curse words. There are many changes that have occurred over the past few years that are beneficial, but this is definitely not one of those changes.

I wouldn't even like to delve into what the future has in store for us because, at this point, it seems that there is no quick and easy fix to the large exposure happening to the future generations.

Accessibility to drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs is at its most convenient right now. Do adults even realize how simple it is for these teens and their younger counterparts to get their hands on these substances? Or what about the influence possible celebrity role models have on them? Constantly having scandals plastered on the Internet and television, and discussing just what went wrong with them, doesn’t help. That can negatively effect just what the youth can take away from it all.

So many factors can play a role and all of them are significant in their own way. From something as large as the broad reach of social media to something as small as the use of obscene language at home or the influence television has on its young viewers, they all have an impact.

No problem can have one simple, quick fix when it took such complexity for it to be designed. So, really, there aren't any certain actions that one person can take to help prevent this downward spiral since it is manipulated by so many factors. Also, it isn't only a local thing, but it is worldwide. Could this course of change be avoided? Unlikely.

The small community of West Hants is being affected by a worldwide issue that has fallen away from the media. How normal it seems to the youth to be amidst all this, while it must leave half the adult population in shock or at least left with concern. We are growing comfortable with our roles and I see the distance set between the youth and their surrounding adults lengthen so that, in the end, we are all living separate lives; where we all go about our own business and know that keeping to ourselves is the easiest route.

Why are we so set apart? I am not sure. But is it the wisest decision made at this point? Can we afford to take the easiest route for much longer?


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Chantel Goulart is a 16-year-old Avon View student who, as part of the co-op class, is job shadowing at the Hants Journal this summer. This is her first column.