Disclaimer: I’ve been asked to write this for the Children’s Society as part of their new campaign called Seriously Awkward. You can find out more about it here. You can ask your MP to support the campaign to strengthen the law to ensure 16 and 17 year olds are protected from sexual exploitation. You can do so here. If you are affected by this post then please seek professional advice and support.
Now cast your mind back to when you were 16 or 17, maybe you are that age now, or you may even be younger than that – what do you think you’ll be like? All I remember is that it was seriously awkward. It was a time of pressure from society – I had to think about continuing my education, I was getting myself into a more serious relationship and had a lot of responsibilities.
It was a difficult time at that age.
I remember feeling under-confident, highly pressured and worried. It wasn’t all doom and gloom but it was a difficult time. When you turn 16 you are on the cusp of adulthood. Those two years fly by and before you know it you’re becoming an adult. Your 18th birthday hits and then boom – you become an adult overnight.
This was me at the age of 17.
It’s embarrassing to look back at me at that age. I can’t remember much – and it was only 5 years ago! If I could remember one thing it would be when I was in sixth form and was in a lesson. I was bullied during quite a few of my lessons and I remember getting so worked up one time. I sat through the whole lesson and then I cried when everyone left. I was 17 and crying over people in my class calling me names and taunting me.
It’s the age where I was in my first serious relationship too. That was another “seriously awkward” moment and one that many 16 and 17 year olds will face. It’s scary!
That’s why 16 and 17 year olds need the same protection as younger children. Just because they are “nearly” adults does not mean they are adults. At 16, I did feel like some support dropped off. I felt like I had to “go it alone” because I was getting older and had some experience. I wouldn’t say that I have a lot of experience at the age of 22, never mind at the age of 16 or 17!
There are a lot of big decisions to make at that age too. You can start working full time at 16, can buy a lottery ticket and can get married with parental consent. At 17 you can learn to drive.
Those are big life decisions that can affect the rest of a person’s life.
There’s no if’s or but’s for me – all 16 and 17 year olds still need some protection. They may not want it, but it’s good that it’s there, just in case.
Teenagers should have better support to cope with what they’ve been through too. A lot of events can happen at that age. From exam stress to more difficult and life-changing experiences such as sexual exploitation and bereavement. Drugs, alcohol and smoking issues can also creep in too. It’s a vulnerable stage of life, in my opinion.
Because of this I think teenagers should have better support. It’s so important that effective support is there – even if teens don’t want to talk.
But that is sometime’s the problem. If teens don’t want to talk, then a service may not be offered. It’s tarring all teenagers with the same brush. If some don’t want to talk, no teen will want to. It’s not true.
There are many reasons why teenagers find it so difficult to talk about what they might be going through.
It could be because of:
- Peer pressure.
- Feeling scared.
- Don’t think people will understand their situation.
- Don’t know who to talk to or where to go.
There may be deeper reasons – a person may have been threatened or may be experiencing abuse. Teenagers can experience this too, let’s not forget that.
It’s so important to support young people even if they are 16 and 17. They still need protection and help.
We all do sometimes.
What were you like at 16 or 17 years old? What are you like now if you’re 16/17? Do you feel pressured? Let me know in the comment section below or on my social media accounts!