Teen Issues: past and present

The evolution of teen issues from the 1970s till now.

Even before the word “teenager” was coined, teenagers have faced issues concerning health, society, culture, and politics. Looking at the past, you can see how social concerns and perspectives have changed or remained the same.

The 1970s was carefree and filled with new technology. The BHS Catamount from this time shows how much youth cared about individuality and freedom. According to the CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), teen pregnancy rates rose by 8.2 % in the 70s and kept increasing till the 90s, after which it started to decline. Drug, tobacco and alcohol use was prevalent, but drug use was viewed differently and seen as experimental. Smoking, for example, was typical, and most teenagers of the time smoked. The Nuffield Foundation also reports a rise in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues from the 70’s on.

All of this bled into the 80’s and 90s, where, according to today’s parents, drug abuse and unprotected sexual activity was rampant. Mental health, family life, peer and societal pressures were further obstacles that many teens faced.

Each decade of teenagers has had different outlooks, making each generation unique. Today, our generation is made different by the prominence of technology, like smartphones. Many BHS students expressed that the biggest obstacle our generation faces is our addiction to technology, and how we aren’t even experiencing the world around us. In Ms. Mary Simmons’ opinion “a lot of things have changed, not for the better”.

Despite these differences, teenagers back then and today are much the same. The juggling act of balancing school, extracurriculars, social life, and family is an example. Though at different rates, we are still faced with drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and mental health issues.

The past generations may be years apart from us,  but our shared experiences make us much closer together than we think.

Teens through the decades, from tobacco addicted teenagers of the 70s to the technology dependent ones today. Art by Michael Marquess II.