Parents play a crucial role in guiding their children and instilling values in
them. Unfortunately, the influence of parents is steadily diminishing. This is
because often both parents hold full-time jobs and their children are left in
the care of babysitters or foreign maids. Because children spend less time with
their parents, they are deprived of the essential guidance and discipline
parents should provide. This effect is not apparent until it is seen in their
behavior and attitudes when they become teenagers. The social problems among
teenagers are examples of these attitudes. These include gangsterism, loitering,
vandalism, alcoholism, smoking and drug abuse. These problems arise because
teenagers, left in the care of maids, tend to do as they please. Consequently,
they rebel against any form of authority because they feel it as an
infringement of their rights.
absence of parental guidance is not solely to blame for social problems among
teenagers. Another critical factor is the influence of friends. Teenagers need
to belong to a group and have a circle of friends with whom they can identify.
They feel they need to conform in order to belong. This is peer pressure.
Members of a group will all try to do the same things. For example, they may
even begin to look like each other, sport the same hairstyle, speak in the same
way, dress like each other and so on. This helps enhance the sense of belonging.
Imagine how left out a teenager would feel in a group of friends who smoke. The
influence of peers and his desire to belong would compel him to take up the
habit or leave the group.
In addition, there is the all pervading
mass media that influences impressionable teenagers. It affects their values,
behavior, thought patterns and expectations. The influence of the mass media is
so great that teenagers cannot tell where fantasy ends and reality begins. In
other words, they believe what they see in the movies is reality. They expect
things to happen like they do in the movies. They enter into relationships and
expect everything to be romantic and rosy. When this does not happen, they get
angry, frustrated and extremely disappointed. Many resort to socially
unacceptable behavior such as vandalism to give vent to
their frustration. Others may turn to smoking or worse still, to drugs. It is a
form of rebellion against reality because it does not meet their expectations.
To make matters worse too much pressure is put on teenagers. Their parents, as
well as their teachers, have high expectations. They expect their children to
excel. To this end, parents rush them here, there and everywhere for extra
classes and tuition just to ensure they score straight As in public
examinations. And this begins at a very tender age! It is not surprising
therefore, that many teenagers react in silent protest. They refuse to work
hard; they prefer to go out and have fun with friends. It may be that they feel
they have been robbed of their childhood. They have not experienced the
care-free days of fun and laughter. It is always study, study and more study. So
now, in their teenage years, they are protesting. The pranks they resort to as
an expression of their protest may have more serious consequences, and may even
To conclude, social ills among teenagers are increasing as parents and society
demand more from them than they can give. Parents cannot be blamed entirely as
much is beyond their control. The influence of peers, the subtle messages of the
mass media and the resulting boredom with life and its pressures all play a part
in creating an environment that gives rise to social ills among teenagers.