4 social issues affecting the youth of today

youth of today
Image: Cottonbro Pexels

By: Natasha Archary 


Social ills affecting the youth are not isolated to South Africa alone. There’s a global discord that’s impacting the youth of today negatively. 

This was made evident in the two of the worst mass shooting incidents that took place in the US last month alone. In both incidents the shooters were 18-year old males who carried out a violent attack claiming the lives of children and adults. 

These and other incidents involving youth closer to home have highlighted the need to address some of the social issues affecting the youth of today. 


Inheriting discrimination

Viral videos of racist encounters flood our timelines daily. The world will never forget George Floyd’s name. The 47-year old African American man who was mercilessly killed by police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2020. 

At one of the #BlackLivesMatter rallies, three generations of African American men, a 16-year old, a 31-year old and a 46-year old exchanged as emotional discussion on how the youth have to find a better way to change their reality

“I was where you are at 16, he was where I am now and there was another in his place who may not be here today because he has fallen. Like George Floyd. And if you don’t find a way to fix the way they see us, that’s different to the way we’re doing it now, we’re all just going to die. They’ll kill us all. We’ll die. So, you find a way. You fix the system. You find the solution that we couldn’t. You do that. You and your friends.”

And it’s not that what is happening in America takes precedence over the racial issues we have in South Africa, it’s just that this 45-second video painted a vivid picture of systemic discrimination. Because the protests are not enough. Meeting violence with violence is not the answer. The desperate call for a better solution, echoes throughout the world.

“An eye for an eye leaves the world blind.”


The flawed system

Every June SA observes Youth Month in commemoration of the youth of 1967, who took an active stand against the apartheid government and laid down their lives to fight for the right to equal education. 

And if this is not an indication of what the underlying problem with racism is, then what else can define it? Equality is still such a far-fetched ask.

If social media is anything to go by, then yes, it appears too tall an order. Despite some racial integration in residential areas, schools and workplaces, social media rants still paint a picture of a very disconnected world. 

Experimental research and surveys don’t provide sufficient evidence of racism. But perhaps the disadvantages that class presents can depict a clearer narrative.

Circumstances that are heightened by living conditions, poor schooling, weak footholds in the workplace, and a lack of financial capital. And while the country has made great strides in bridging the disparities, they will always be there, won’t they? For as long as we have people living in squalor, eating scraps and earning minimum wage. 


Reverse racism 

This is enough to get tempers flaring because it seems to be the biggest defence in social discussions on public forums. There seems to be a firm belief that South Africa has somehow flipped Apartheid on its head by including equal opportunities for people of colour. 

Because in so doing, according to the arguments, this isolates white people and treats them unfairly. Black people are able to shop at premium stores, right? Black children can attend the schools parents would like them to, right? Black people have opportunities to further their education at inclusive universities. So, what’s the issue?

Racial discrimination is a common occurrence in the lives of children of colour. Despite more inter-racial relationships and people advocating that we are all equal, the negative beliefs, attitudes, actions, and behaviours of people in social settings speak volumes. 


The effects of systemic discrimination

Sadly, the effects of discrimination have been found in people from many minority groups including Muslims, Asians, Indians, and Coloured too. Ethnic affiliation moderates relationships between the belief that race is a major barrier to social standing. 

With a disregard for anything and anyone different we don’t grow as a country, continent nor globally. Transformation will continue to fail as long as we have the President of the “free world”, encouraging force to contain situations of unrest. 

Calling on young people to change the system and find a better solution, a safer world is premature. If we haven’t by now made headway and paved a foundation for them to take over from. 

Also read: Thomas And Skhumba: The difference between the youth of today and the youth of 1976

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