#YouthHack™ is a platform for all parents, educators and youth work practitioners, joint together as a community, to help youths succeed! It hopes to be a collection of resources derived from working with and engaging youths, meant to be used to address issues – like those mentioned below – to support them, empower them, see them succeed and many more. There are books, podcasts, training workshops, coaching, even counselling and psychological assessments available.
SOME ISSUES YOUTHS ARE FACING
These are non-exhaustive list of issues youths face, based on media and academic reports, as well as ground validation with academics and expert practitioners. This list was put together by Singapore’s National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). The report highlighted that the list will continue to grow as more needs surface and information becomes available.
DID YOU KNOW?
NUMBER OF MALE TEENAGE SUICIDES HIT RECORD HIGH
Societal stereotypes that demand men be tough and able to handle all challenges could be one of the barriers preventing male teenagers from seeking help. [Source: Straits Times, 2019]
SELF-HARMING INCREASING AMONG YOUNGER CHILDREN?
Of the total number of cases of self-harm amongst teenagers in 2014, 60% were aged 14 and below. [Source: Straits Times, 2015]
THE PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLDS HEADED BY DIVORCED OR SEPARATED PARENTS IS INCREASING?
Out of all single-parent households, 47% were headed by divorced or separated parents in 2014, an increase by 8.1% from 2000. Over one-third of all single-parent households included a youngest child below the age of 21.[Statistics Series Paper: Families and Households in Singapore (2000 – 2014)]
PHYSICAL ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES HAVE INCREASED, IN PART DUE TO BETTER AWARENESS?
In 2018, the number of child abuse investigations hit 1,163, up more than 200% from 2014. Investigations of sexual abuse cases have increased by more than 300% while those of physical abuse cases have gone up by slightly more than 200% between 2008 and 2018. [Source: MSF Child Abuse Investigation]
MORE TEENAGERS ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE TODAY?
In 2015, 359 babies were born to girls under the age of 19 and 347 abortions were performed on teenagers under the age of 20. Social workers have noted an increasing trend of sexually active teenagers, which has the potential to lead to higher rates of teenage pregnancy, often unplanned. Teenage pregnancy may mean the premature ending of education for the parents and early entry into the workforce to support their new family. [Source: Babes, 2016]
PARENTAL PRESENCE IS KEY IN HELPING YOUTH MAKE BETTER LIFE DECISIONS
When parents are absent or focused on making ends meet, they may not be able to provide their children with timely advice and sex education. In fact, given the sensitivity of the topic (sex), parents even when able, may feel uncomfortable discussing these issues openly with their children. [Source: Straits Times, 2016]
DRUG ABUSERS ARE GETTING YOUNGER?
The number of young drug abusers has been growing steadily. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of residents and permanent residents studying in primary to tertiary public educational institutions who were caught for drug offences almost doubled, from 83 to 151. In fact, 40% of those arrested for abuse in Singapore in 2016 were less than 30 years old. [Source: Straits Times, 2017 and Channel News Asia, 2017]
AND MANY MANY MANY MORE…
These may just be numbers to us, but many of the numbers were lives we got acquainted with, some we even worked with and gotten to know personally; and we have learnt a lot from those youth. They have impacted our lives as practitioners and individuals, how we work with clients, and even our personal roles as parents, as much as we believed we have impacted theirs. Some of the journeys with them were long drawn and challenging. There were success stories, and there were also sad ones. Regardless, we are on a mission to help all parents and youth work practitioners, like you, and your children or youth, to have better connections, to live better lives, to be happy, to grow old together, and not be a number on reports.
#YouthHack™ is spearheaded by Nicholas Gabriel Lim, this is his story…
“All youths are at-risk of something.
All youths are motivated to do something.
Adults think otherwise”
~ Nicholas Gabriel Lim ~
I always feared my dad when I was growing up. I was caned and disciplined by him strictly. As a result, I kept to myself a lot and focused on the things I liked to do – mostly play when I was younger. This affected my academic performance significantly and found myself eligible for secondary schools that not many would like to be associated with then. This devastated my mum, as she had worked hard and endured much to provide the best for me. I disappointed her, and I shamed myself. There was no one else to blame but myself.
By today’s standard, I was highly at-risk of harming myself in many ways. The home was a fearful place to return to. I was resentful and blamed myself a lot. I questioned my self-worth and abilities constantly. I was quiet and quite a passive-aggressive kind of person. Unlike those who might feel better expressing their anger and other strong emotions outwardly, like fighting; I had the tendency to implode by way of isolating myself socially. I had poor social skills and interaction with people or socializing was a problem. I often felt out-of-place or outcast; I did not feel belonged. Outwardly, no one would guess I was deeply troubled; let alone think I needed help.
Throughout the entire time, there was one person who always believed in me, and encouraged me along; my mother! Through my academic and relationship failures, I always had that quiet and unwavering support at the back. And I felt that without it, I would not have overcome the numerous challenges in my life, and I would have perished without even a single soul knowing my existence. I was obviously motivated to do a lot of things, but never motivated to study. I was motivated in my extra-curriculum activities, which I had numerous; I was motivated in church activities, which I was heavily committed to; but I was the least motivated in my studies. I can always remember how crushed my mother was towards how I had wasted my life away, despite her tremendous efforts to see me through having a good education.
Having such a strong supporter like my mother throughout those challenging years in secondary school, I graduated not only the top of my school cohort academically, I also received the colours or merit awards for having accomplished significant success in both my academics and all my extra-curriculum activities – like being the Head Prefect of the school, being the National Cadet Corp. (Land) Unit overall in-command and lead drill instructor, being in the Speech and Drama Club, amongst many others. I continue to take on other leadership roles later on in life, with the added knowledge and experience of what I have gone through in my own life and how I overcame life’s adversities and challenges.
In all the challenges that youths face and encounter, I could connect and identify with it very quickly; and with the added professional training and experience, I could assist both youths and parents very quickly to re-establish some form of stability in their relationship with each other, and or to re-connect them at a new level. It has been decades since that fateful day I chose to turn my life around; it is still so clear in my mind. This continues to be my driving force to make a difference in the lives of youths and their families, especially, when family members want to and can be their strongest supporter through challenging times. I know for sure that even if it is that one supporter, that one adult who believes in him or her, the youth has a very good chance of succeeding in life.
Faculty, William Glasser International and Singapore
Associate Faculty, Singapore University of Social Sciences
Associate Faculty, National Institute of Education
Approved Clinical Supervisor, SRP, Reg. No: 008090148
M.A. Applied Psychology (Singapore)
B.A. Psychology (Australia)
Certified Practitioner for Adventure Therapy
Certified Associate in Emergenetics Profiling
Certified Practitioner in Therapeutic Behavior Management
WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE IF YOUTHS WERE THRIVING?
POTENTIALLY Between Youth and Parent…
There could be lots of trusts?
There could be open communication?
There could be lots of laughing and crying together?
Graduation ceremonies are attended together with pride?
Personal successes are celebrated and memories commemorated?
Parents and youths feel safe to be vulnerable with each other in sharing?
They talk about things that are personal and close to their hearts?
They learn and challenge one another through life?
They do different kinds of activities as a family?
There could be deeper conversations?
There are many hugs and kisses?
Traveling the world together?
Imagine how amazing it would be if some, if not, all these were true and even possible? Imagine that you could build it now and even start some of these with your loved ones today? Imagine if you had the key to start something different today? Imagine if you had the skills and strategies to help you deepen and enhance the wonderful parent-child relationship?
MESSAGE FROM… NICHOLAS
‘YOLO’ represents ‘You Only Live Once’. It is a modern-day exclamation of enthusiasm that has reached viral meme popularity. If you were to add the pound sign (hashtag), #YOLO becomes a searchable keyword on Facebook and Twitter.
This expression is the evolution of the phrase ‘Seize The Day’. According to some writers, it is used to “inspire courage and bravery, or to justify doing something idiotic and embarrassing”. You will see YOLO spelled with its four letters, as well as with the pound sign hashtag ‘#YOLO’.
For me, I like to use it for ‘YOUth Only Live Once’! Your child, your teenager – our youth – will grow up; parents, ‘YOU’ will also age! In a very short 5 to 10 years – for some longer, depends on how younger your child is now – your teens will be out there in the world without you, most of the time! They will ‘Seize The Day’ whenever they can, where they are. Similarly, the invitation is for YOU to ‘Seize The Day’ with your child!
If you had built a strong bond with them, in a way they know that they will be safe and not judged when they need to turn to someone, they will turn to you! And I am almost certain you might continue to assure them of your presence in their lives despite the perceived, sometimes physical, distance from them!
If the bond with them is weak now, and you want to strengthen it, you can start here! All the materials herein, offered to you with love and courage, aim to help you get connected, stay connected and remain connected, regardless of the circumstance! ‘YOUth Only Live Once’ seize the day! Take action! When the time has passed, there is no turning back of the clock.
I wish you every success in your journey with your youths!
Nicholas Gabriel Lim