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Distinctive teen forums offer insights into lives of young adults

Written on May 11th, 2011

Every generation of young people face their own set of challenges and who better than teens to articulate what issues they face and how these problems are handled throughout their growth into young adulthood.

At Woodland Christian High School in Breslau, students have been invited to speak to parents, faculty and the board of directors in a student forum, Windows into the Lives of our Teens.

The continuation of the student forum will take place at the annual spring membership meeting on the evening of May 19 when students will discuss teens and sexuality.

Some issues facing teens remain fairly constant. Questions around sexuality are part of human nature, for example, though related attitudes and accepted behaviours are perpetually in a state of flux. Drugs and alcohol and the need for responsible decision-making are a constant theme in growth as well, though again, what is or is not acceptable may vary from person to person and family to family.

Other issues, such as technology and teens, the topic of the last discussion, have changed dramatically over the years so the insight provided during the forums is invaluable as a means to open dialogue between youth and adults.

Principal John VanPelt says as the students present information based upon surveys of their peers, the adults present are expected to pass no judgment. Questions are encouraged but what makes the concept work is the fact that students are speaking honestly in a forum where they’re free to speak candidly with no fear of repercussions, says VanPelt.

“There’s two things that we indicate to parents at the beginning of any of these forums: number one, they can’t ask kids personal questions, and you can’t present any tones of judgment on what’s presented,” he says.

“This takes a great deal of leadership and vulnerability for kids to put themselves out there.”

Following the last presentation on technology, feedback from parents was overwhelmingly positive, he says, because they could ask why teens make specific choices in relation to technology in their life.

Sexuality, as a topic, is likely to inspire a bit more anxiety, says VanPelt, but it’s important the discussion takes place.