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Author Topic: Economic Cutbacks threatening young people's passage to independence.
Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey, so I'm thinking of writing a blog-post on this issue at some point, but would really appreciate people's thoughts.

I think one of the best things that ever happened and a dramatic change in society has been how in the past 50 years in the UK and plenty of other places, growing past a certain age has come to mean independence. We've managed to get the point where you can fly the nest in your late teens or 20s and make your own decisions. Arguably it's played as much of a factor in reshaping society, music, sexuality, culture, and everything else as anything else. It seems so natural for me to assume it that the significance is difficult for me to comprehend.

So, I'm pretty spooked that cutting back the way governments have been doing around the world recently means that some age-old problems will start making a comeback.

Here are the two main ones I've been thinking of, can any body think of any others? Or have any thoughts or information on these?

1. The increasing cost and exclusivity of going to university/college due to education cuts.

Poorer people are less likely to be able to go to university at all if they ever were. But now on top of that, it's more and more likely that parents will have financial control of you if you do go. I always heard and thought of university as an escape, and it has been for queer youth especially fearing persecution at home, or in home towns, and for anyone who might be able go away and get new ideas, the possibility or likelihood of future debt becomes an instrument of control it might never have been before. For univerity to have ceased to be an escape is frightenng to me.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." said Virginia Woolfe in 1929, and now I think the same message is becoming increasingly true for young people, and here fiction means to me all the creative things we need to do to express ourselves and change and improve society.

2. youth unemployment, cuts to welfare, housing and domestic violence

Basically the archetype for domestic violence now is about an abusive partner, or parent. Whereas my experience and reading of research by folks like Amnesty really highlights how the pressures on people form much larger households translate almost directly to domestic violence being committed increasingly by extended family. And the dynamic of Mother-in-law to daughter-in-law abuse becomes a massive issue.

Now suddenly my friends can't find jobs, or afford places to live with partners. And so the big move of starting to co-habit, which for my parents generation was about scraping together cash to find somewhere to rent together, for these friends has meant moving in with one set of their parents... and in close quaters with each other... and furthermore it has seemed to be primarily Girlfriends moving in with a Boyfriends family. So I'm worried about the gender dimension of what this means for new relationships too.

[ 08-12-2012, 02:34 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

Posts: 692 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
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Somehow, over the years, we've gotten the message that young people spread their wings by leaving home, which leaves their parents or guardians free to continue holding the same beliefs they ever did. So wouldn't it be nice to see some flexibility on both sides as we see living patterns returning, for many people, to what they once were? Remember that historically extended families have lived together.

I think you have some really great ideas here, particularly honing in on what this could mean for queer youth in a society that still isn't terribly accepting.

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Robin

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I like that more upbeat way of looking at it! That would be great.

Plenty of parents are awesome but I think one of the reasons these issues are less likely to be raised is that as far as appealing to the public goes, very few politicians or public figures are going to insinuate that parents might not always know what's best for their kids, or that there might be situations and communities that young people really want to get out from. That's a lot of viewers, readers and voters to offend.

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Redskies
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Jacob, I imagine you know this already, but thought I'd mention the recent-ish stuff about suggestions to limit or axe housing benefit for under-25s. I don't know how serious or advanced those suggestions were, but they came out of Cameron's camp, so not good news. Obviously that's a monumentally bad thing, as it'll hit the most vulnerable people. Many young people who have access to healthy parental support already use that support, even to the extent of living with parents, which is what Cameron expects young people to do. Apparently no thought about people who aren't safe (in whatever way) around parents, or whose parents believe that their offspring should be independent from age 16 and give no material support beyond that, or people who need to live in a different town to have access to certain career opportunities...

I take Robin's point well, but I would add on the other side of that that it's pretty common for parents and offspring to find that their relationship improves once they no longer live together, when the offspring want to live a different lifestyle with different values than parents have. Sometimes, multi-generational living can be negatively affected by inadequate housing, including lack of space and personal space, and poor quality housing meaning that noise carries and people get upset at being woken up when there are different lifestyles and timings in the same house. When parents don't have enough money to support the basic needs of younger family members, it's easy to understand why they might put pressure on older young people to "get a job", or a certain kind of job, or disapprove of a particular lifestyle, because people's very survival is at stake. No-one should be in that position to start with. Some parents in that situation are simply responding to an unreasonable situation in the only way they know how.

Also, on the domestic violence stuff, it's my understanding that teens experiencing domestic abuse within their own relationship aren't as well served as other adults, so any situation that makes it more likely for a young person to feel trapped with a bad relationship (for example, if they're without adequate parental support and have no entitlement to housing benefit) clearly makes already vulnerable people more vulnerable.

[ 08-15-2012, 05:11 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Saffron Raymie
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The axing of connexions (my lifeline as a teen) was part of this too. The government said young people 'just don't need it' (as in 'they're smart enough not to need it'). I hate that line of argument so much; I don't exactly need to tell you all here that you can be super-smart and independent and still need relationships and other kinds of help and counselling. Heartbreaking. They don't care, and the worst part is their patronizing enough to lie to us about not caring.

[ 08-16-2012, 04:34 AM: Message edited by: Rei ]

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