Imagine you are an elderly person walking down the street late at night. You spot a group of teenagers hanging out on the same side of the sidewalk that you are on. The group seemed rather loud and raucous but begins to quiet down as you approach. You lock eyes with one of the kids and suddenly begin to question your safety. Do you cross the street or do you feel like this will bring unwarranted attention towards yourself? Your body begins to shake and your heart stops. This is a fairly common occurrence that should not create such a stressful situation. While the teens are most likely preparing to make room for you to pass through, some may fear that they will be attacked. This may be diagnosed as ephebiphobia. Ephebiphobia is an irrational or unwarranted fear of the youth, usually seen in the elderly and reinforced by negative media imagery.
You may not know the word, but you've probably had the feeling. "Ephebiphobia", or "fear of youth". It is one of the most enduring phenomena in our society – and it's more prevalent than ever.
Ephebiphobia is the fear of youth. First coined as the "fear or loathing of teenagers. Today the phenomenon is recognized as the "inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people".
This term was coined 10 years ago to capture the society-wide panic that has gripped media, politicians, and even schools. It is generally based in negative stereotypes and bad experiences from childhood and is perpetuated by the way popular media portrays young people.
“We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control.” These words – expressing the all-too-familiar contemporary condemnation of young people – were actually inscribed on a 6,000-year-old Egyptian tomb.
All of us have to go through being a teen but there are some people who have an irrational and persistent fear of youth and teenagers and most of them fear that teenagers are non-compliant and have rude behavior. Most people have personally had a bad experience with a teenager that has made him conclude that a teen can be domineering, manipulative, authoritative and strong. Most teens are considered to be difficult, impulsive, and would insist on doing what they want to do and this can be a nightmare for parents.
Teens are also more concerned with their peers than the other people around them. They want to fit in, go with the gang resulting sometimes in defying rules at home and rules set by the parents, or sometimes hurting other people their age just to fit into a crowd and this causes fear especially in parents. In some societies, gangs involved in robbery and violence start in their teenage years and some get scared when they come across these gangs.
An ephebiphobe may develop symptoms of anxiety when faced with a teen. They may feel threatened and will do anything to avoid interacting with them.
Every generation thinks that the next generation is the worst ever. Our communities need new cultures where children and youth are seen as complete partners. Equity – helping people who start in different places reach the same goal – is absolutely required.
To help in irradiating it we should,
Advocate: Actively include children, youth and adults as complete partners whenever and wherever possible.
Confront: Don’t let ephebiphobia go unstopped when adults or youth show it. When prejudice words or behaviors happen, let people know that is not okay, and tell them why.
Create: Safe, supportive and engaging places need to exist for youth and adults to interact as complete partners whenever and wherever possible.
So, What's your say in this? Tell us in the comment section!