Teens as a Visible Minority

Canada
September 6, 2007 12:21am CST
Have you caught yourself discriminating against teenagers just because you recognize that they are teenagers and not adults? I believe that often, teens are discriminated against by adults. Teens can't get away from looking like teenagers. They don't look like little kids, and most teens can be told apart from adults, too. Teens are teens are teens. They are visibly teenagers, and they have no authority because they are still minors, according to their age. Very often, I see adults sneer on the bus or other public transit vehicles when they see teenagers approach to catch the same transit vehicle. Sometimes there only has to be 1 teenager to make an adult (or several) start to take on 'the grump look,' and actually start bossing the teenager around. I have been riding, myself, on public transit and have had another adult, a stranger to me, comment, "those damned no-good kids!" - in response to NOTHING that the teens (a group of 3 teenaged boys) did wrong. It was the mere presence of the teens that this adult reacted to. I recently watched a man actually STEP ON Teenaged boys while riding on the transit train. The train was not heavily populated and there was no 'space' issue whatsoever. There was sufficient room for everyone to stand without touching or even bumping into one another. None of the boys bumped into me or anything. This was more upsetting by the fact that the man who stepped on the toes of one boy managed, in the space of a 5-minute ride, to step on 2 more of the teen's male friends. The man also asked one of the teens, "Don't you got not respect for your elders? Move it, boy." Have you noticed any behaviors like this where you are from? Do you think that teens are a visible minority? Do you think there is anything that people can do about discrimination of teens? I don't think that most teens deserve the negative behavior displayed against them. I see it often, and I think it is wrong.
1 person likes this
7 responses
@Dolcerina (3380)
• Hungary
25 Oct 07
There are adults who are disdained at their workplace, or at home, and it is a way for them to give it back to somebody. They have a thirst for domination that they can not satisfy, in this way they seek somebody who are weaker, then them, and they can hurt them without consequences. It is sad. I have a son, and I teach him for his rights too. Good teens know that they must be polite with adults, but we have to teach them where is the bound.
1 person likes this
• Canada
30 Oct 07
Hi Dolcerina - you make some really good points about people seeking someone weaker to push their frustrations onto. I'm glad that you teach your son about his rights and help him to learn all the ways in which he can stand up for himself (in reasonable ways, of course). There are many ways for teens to stand up for themselves - but I don't think that many parents teach this. I think that many parents do well with the 'teaching manners' but are so concerned with this part that they forget to teach 'how to be reasonably assertive/stand up for yourself.' I hope your son will encounter fewer 'bullying' problems from adults as a result of your attention to his 'people skills.'
1 person likes this
@Dolcerina (3380)
• Hungary
30 Oct 07
I hope too
@zed_k4 (17634)
• Singapore
19 Feb 10
Agrees that teenagers have to know their boundaries definitely..
@muscare (3069)
• Australia
6 Sep 07
One thing I've noticed in regards to teen discrimination is in regards to the ones with their license. Having to display their 'P' plates, all P platers seem to get tarred with the same brush. Yes, there are a few that break the road rules, but they all seem to get the blame for it. I myself treat a person for who they are, not the 'category' they fit into!
• Canada
14 Sep 07
muscare - thank you for commenting. I'm glad that you "treat a person for who they are, not the 'category' they fit into!" KUDOs to you! Yes, I'm sure that 'P' plates are another thing that society likes to call a 'red flag' where teens are concerned. Another 'indicator' of something people can point fingers at with teens. Thanks for bringing this up! I wouldn't think about 'P' plates normally because I am not around many teens with vehicles, since I am along public transit routes all the time. I only travel by public transit... I will ask some of the young students I go to University with about this topic - the ones who do drive vehicles to school. Your comment has sparked my curiosity about 'P' plates. I wonder, muscare, do you think that 'car model' might also play a factor in prejudice against teens? It seems, the more I speak to people about this, that almost ANYTHING can be attached to a teen and 'mark' a teen so that people can mock, criticize, and abuse certain teens (ones who really aren't doing anything wrong).
@muscare (3069)
• Australia
15 Sep 07
I do think that car models play a part in how teen drivers are seen, as some of the lads like to drive high powered vehicles, and as is the case with some with high powerd cars, they do wheelies, burn outs, etc. This sort of thing isn't only done by P-platers though, there are older drivers who do it also. I feel it is only a minority of teens that do this, but a lot more get the blame!
@sephrenia (567)
6 Sep 07
Here in England, most of the teenagers I know are actually quite well behaved and wouldn't dream of causing a fuss. They just get on with what they are doing and try to keep their heads down. The trouble is there is a minority of teens who like to cause trouble both on public transport and off of it which is why people discriminate against them i think. It's that minority who play tinny music on the back of the bus as loud as they can, start happy slapping or generally just making a pain of themselves that people remember. The ones who keep their heads down are barely ntoiced which is why i think all teenagers are lumped together because the louder, annoying ones get the attention. I remember well how badly people treated me when I was a teenager and while I can sort of understand it, It doesn't make it any more right now than it did then. I think if you wanted to highlight the good things that teenagers have to say, you would have to do something very public to help remind people that there are good along with the bad, maybe do a charity drive or something? I don't know, but as long as the good ones keep their heads down, everyone will continue thinking all teenagers are bad.
• Canada
7 Sep 07
Thanks for commenting, sephrenia! I very much agree with your words, "It doesn't make it any more right now than it did then." Discrimination against teenagers is NOT A NEW issue at all. It's funny that many people who were probably treated poorly by adults when they were teens - have turned into adults who treat teens poorly now. Be well, sephrenia - points well taken!
• United States
25 Oct 07
So true! And this prejudice is the same as any other.. judging a whole group for what a minority of the group do..
@flowerchilde (12520)
• United States
25 Oct 07
Good grief! What is the world coming to!? I haven't noticed it much with teens specifically, but have with kids! People sorta glaring at them as they pass them on the street just waiting for punk like behavior to pop out. This is highly regrettable! As we are the adults!! And isn't this type of attitude likely to bring about bad things, and not good? For instance, do we want to be hated when we are old and feeble.. how smart is that? Not even considering that, we should love and cherish our (the world's) kids and teenagers.. not treat them like they are criminals. Perhaps that only makes more of them actually become (bitter) criminals! Good grief! I love human beings, but human nature is so... well, dumb!
• Canada
30 Oct 07
Hi flowerchilde, Thank you for your pertinent and well projected comments (including a LOT of "!!!'s"). I love human beings, too, and I often wonder why the power of 'misunderstanding' has so many people in a grip, instead of what people usually say about 'neighborly friendship' and all that stuff. We LIKE to like other people and we LIKE to be liked...but we often don't BEHAVE well or actually extend ourselves to like others without pre-judging, do we? Thank you again for your words.
@Malyck (3430)
• Australia
13 Sep 07
ARGHHHHHHH! I absolutely hate this! I'm still a teenager, even if I'm in my late teens, but I have always been looked upon scornfully by a majority of adults, although I am a mature and respectable girl - certainly one who maintains their manners - but I've been looked down upon because of my age, and my appearance: having facial piercings. It's one of the huge double standards besides gender: we must respect our elders, even if they haven't earned it, but they don't respect us. This isn't how I was brought up. I don't immediately respect an adult for their age, just as I don't judge a child on their age. I always make sure that if I am on a bus/train or in a building etc, that I vacate my seat or open the door for an elderly/pregnant/disabled person, and often I just get glared at. Not thanked, not smiled at, but judged because I am obviously evil. There are people of all ages who act inappropriately and rudely, and I hate the fact that teenagers are so often targeted and judged; labelled as one group of hoodlums, rather than on the basis of their personalities and behaviour. I didn't express my thoughts/views on this how I wanted, but I hope you get the idea =D Great discussion, too. Thanks, Mal.
• Canada
14 Sep 07
Hi Malyck, Don't apologize for your presentation! Well said! You bring up a very valid point about teens being required to show respect, even for people who haven't earned the right to receive respect! Thank you for being polite and offering your seat on the bus to the elderly, pregnant, and disabled. I hope that some of them appreciate this. I notice you said "often I just get glared at," so I hope that once in a while you are appreciated and don't get glared at. I'm glad you didn't overgeneralize and say "I always get glared at" because this probably means that you're still aware of 'INDIVIDUALS' and - hopefully, you still possess enough integrity not to lump all the adults into one category. Hopefully you'll develop into an adult who maintains the ability to see 'each person' and not 'all people' for what they are. Thanks again for commenting - be well, Malych, and hang in there! teeray~~
@bowtieguy (5931)
• United States
9 Sep 07
Besides my own, I have sometimes but only the ones that look like their up to no good. Those boys who walk around with their pants to their ankles and girls who look like their asking for it and usualy are.
• Canada
14 Sep 07
Here's something, bowtieguy, that might make you cringe. Most of the high-profile serial killers in America that have been widely shown on TV and in documentaries have been young men who look 'normal' and act in the way that society deems 'decent.' In their teen years, they have usually set this tendency toward 'normal,' 'blend in' habits and clothing, just like parents and society prefer - versus any habits and clothing that people don't seem to like. Most have looked like 'clean-cut' individuals, and most have acted just as polite and mannered as society likes young men and teens to be. By contrast, I cannot even recall the last time a baggy-attired serial killer was profiled on any documentary. I like to talk to baggy-butt-pants teens on public transit, myself, and have found them to be just as intelligent and polite as their fitted-jeans peers. In fact, most teens have a wonderful sense of humour about their clothing - and a remarkable propensity for forgiving adults who mistreat them based on their looks. I speak to teens randomly and on a daily basis and have not encountered any 'no good' teens, though I speak to teens in baggy pants or heavy metal t-shirts or with spiked hair, with tattoos, with piercings, etc. Boys are actually easier to speak with than girls, even though some of the boys do often wear more 'drastic' (non-conforming) clothing than the girls. I wonder, bowtieguy, if one of your teens choose to wear 'different clothing' one day and arrived home to recount that he/she had been treated rudely by adults on the way home - would you say "Serves you right, looking like that" or "How DARE!" ?
@zed_k4 (17634)
• Singapore
19 Feb 10
I have seen teenagers being mistaken for being bad and those that are bad and not respecting elders too. There are all types, really. Some are really respectful of elders and know their moral etiquette, while others fail to do so. But I agree with your line saying that sometimes, nothing can be done to ward off the discrimination for teens. In fact, discrimination happens anywhere and everywhere, and there's nothing much that can be done. And those really decent teenagers whom are being bullied, my heart goes out to them as well.