Neglected. Misunderstood. Disregarded. These are the common issues that the forgotten youths usually face. “Who are these people?” You may ask. As the name suggests, they are youths who are usually ignored and brushed off by others, youths who “act out” as a way of coping because of the circumstances that they are placed in, youths who are termed as delinquent youths or youths-at-risk.
These youths carry different identities and labels, of which are placed upon by society’s expectations and norms of this world. Negative identities and labels that eventually form and shape the way they behave, because of the prejudgement that the world tends to have.
Delinquent. Gangster. Troublemaker. School-dropout. Bully. Thief. Runaway. Outcast. Loner. Truant. Rebel.
Along with these identities came the pretagged notions of negative concepts and perspectives. Just like how the identity of a policeman is pretagged with being righteous and honourable, the forgotten youths are often labelled and pretagged with negative and demeaning labels. These labels may come about due to certain actions, attitudes, or characteristics they displayed, that does not fit in with societal norms and expectations. Dangerous, rebellious, and unmotivated, are one of the many labels that these youths hear and carry. Yet, these labels may merely be a front for the youths to hide behind and cover up, for all the fear and uncertainty that they may feel, to protect themselves, and cope from all the issues that are happening in their lives. Life hasn’t exactly been kind to them, and neither have been the views and expectations of society.
“Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.”
- Rachel Jackson
Very often, the forgotten youths are buried under their labels. Their act and the label itself overshadow and overpower them. Youths do not have the innate ill intent to do something bad. They may be influenced and pressured; they may succumb to doing foolish things and getting into trouble; they may be misguided – only because they have no proper guidance to help them differentiate between what is right and wrong. The world needs more open eyes and hearts, to see past the labels placed on them. Society today allows the labels placed on these youths to define them, causing the youths to leave behind the strengths and talents that they possess. Quoting Rachel Jackson, the very person whom society believes will fail, might just be the one who will transform the world. We need to bring these forgotten youths back into the society and guide them in understanding their thoughts and actions, as they find themselves once again. Empower the youths, and give them the power to change and break cycles. It’s time to peel off those labels, and pull out the strengths and talents that had been long buried. Forget the labels, forget the acts, but don’t forget the youths.
In the recent campaign by Reach Youth during the SHINE Festival, the Parliamentary Secretary of Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Baey Yam Keng, shared his thoughts about the forgotten youths: “Don’t forget that youths have dreams and aspirations. Help them realise it!”
Just like Mr Baey, more than 200 people wrote down their thoughts and well wishes towards the forgotten youths, ranging from words of encouragement to positive affirmation! These may be just words and phrases to you and I, but it can make a great difference and inspire the youths to strive again. “Only through action do words take meaning.” ** Let us not just talk the talk, but also walk the talk and do something for the forgotten youths. Join the Operation Broken Wing today, as we make a difference in the lives of these youths, and fight for hope!
More information can be found at http://www.operationbrokenwing.com or on Facebook and Instagram at @OperationBrokenWing J
** The Freechild Project Motto