Voices of Youth: Reach out and help teens from broken families

Teenagers from broken families tend to keep their struggles to themselves, and this can affect them more than they are aware of. This is especially so in Singapore society, where people tend to avoid serious, personal conversations.

There are several reasons why teenagers do not talk about their struggles. They may believe that others do not understand what they are going through, and that revealing these personal issues makes them look weak.

In addition, many teenagers may not know how to express their troubles and turmoil in words. This results in them putting up a facade to hide their true emotions.

What can we as their peers do to reach out and reach in? For one thing, teenagers must learn to ask questions and listen with empathy. We must have the courage, and sometimes the persistence, to check in on our friends when we notice something amiss, instead of avoiding the conversation. Texting them to find out if they are all right makes for a good start.

Teachers should also learn how to initiate conversations with their students to listen and empathise, instead of focusing on ways to “fix the child”. Sometimes, students just need a listening ear.

Schools should also encourage more interactions between peers through various events, to build trust between students and empower them with the language for such conversations.

I urge my peers and teachers to engage those from broken families with authenticity and concern. Having these conversations will not only help the broken, but will also show those who have not experienced such hardships in life a new perspective.

Kingsley Erobu, 13

Secondary 2 student

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