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Are teenagers today apathetic towards the less fortunate?

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“Teenagers today are apathetic towards the less fortunate.” To be apathetic is to show no care or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern. I feel that this statement is too general as not all teenagers are apathetic towards the less fortunate. Most teenagers these days do have sympathy for the less fortunate and are trying their best to help those in need. For example, some of them lend their time to help out in Community Involvement Projects (CIP) and they donate to certain organisations to help the less fortunate. Most teenagers these days have concern for the less fortunate and even a simple act of donating to the man selling tissue papers on the street shows that they care. It is wrong to generalize and say that all teenagers are apathetic towards the less fortunate because not everyone is like that.

Teenagers are sympathetic towards the less fortunate. Based on a recent article on World Vision’s webpage, “More than 700 youths participated in the World Vision relief organisation’s 30-hour fast at a school, a bid to raise awareness of hunger overseas.” The title of the article is “Affluent youths in Singapore fast to experience ‘famine’ and raise awareness.” From this we can see that even wealthy youths in Singapore have a heart for the less fortunate and they are fasting to help raise awareness of world hunger. Teenagers are definitely not apathetic towards the less fortunate. If they were, they would not be sacrificing their daily meals and snacks, which are so important to them just to help to raise awareness. I believe that they sincerely care about the less fortunate. One of the participants of the 30-hour fast, 18-year old Ker Huiling, called the event “meaningful”. They are willing to sacrifice their time to help in this noble cause. Also, after their five-day Outward Bound School (OBS) course in May 2011, ten participants from Methodist Girls’ School came together on Saturdays to volunteer at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen. They were inspired by their OBS experience to take a step beyond what was expected of them by helping the less fortunate through preparing, cooking and distributing meals.

Another article in the Straits Times in 2011 said “half the teenagers here are eager to do volunteer work” as compared to adults, where only “one in five of them devotes time and energy to charitable causes”. It is also said that only one in ten senior citizens would devote their time to help the less fortunate. If teenagers are apathetic, would this make the adults and senior citizens even more apathetic? They are the working class in Singapore and they are earning a living, as compared to these teenagers. Teens have to struggle with school work and meeting high expectations, but they still manage to find the time to volunteer to help charitable organizations as compared to adults. Even though adults have different burdens, it should not wane their passion to volunteer to help the less fortunate. It is indeed very tough and hard to find time to volunteer in this busy society but if the teenagers can do it, why not the adults? From this we can see that teens in Singapore are sympathetic towards the less fortunate and they do not mind sacrificing their time to volunteer and help the less fortunate. In this case, the roles are reversed when the teenagers are setting a standard that the adults and senior citizens are trailing behind. Hence, we can see that teenagers are sympathetic towards more needy people, and are ready to sacrifice their time to help them.

Teenagers take the initiative to start on new projects or volunteer to help the less fortunate. Youthsthatcare, a humble organization started by three siblings aims to help the less fortunate by organizing projects to raise funds. As students with no financial sponsorships, it would be quite hard for them to raise enough money to help fund the needy. Over the years, the membership of the organization has grown, and this shows that there are in fact, teenagers who care about the less fortunate people around them are more than willing to sacrifice their precious time to help raise funds, join or start on projects to help these people in need. Another example is the organization Young Change Makers that grants the youths money in order to go about their initiated CIP. One of the events organized by the youths was to have a day camp for children from low-income families. These teens take the time to plan for these projects and it probably takes a lot of effort for them to pull the even together. Hence, we can see that these teens are definitely not apathetic towards the less fortunate in Singapore.

Despite the two points stated above, some teenagers these days do lack empathy. From an article on a strategic philanthropy, the author wrote that “young people might be constantly aware of their friends’ whereabouts, but all that connectedness doesn’t seem to be translating to genuine concern for the world and one another.” With all the news coverage young people have these days that are so cursory and illusive, they have become overwhelmed with discerning between a real crisis and one that is cooked up by producers to fill time. With all the news coming in, they have become desensitized and may not have empathy or sympathy for the people who need help around them. For example, upon hearing news about a flood, teenagers might just think that it is just another flood, and nothing else even though lives are lost and homes are damaged. Young people today have been inundated with news to the point that they cannot care anymore. Perhaps it is also because of the societal pressure the teenagers face these days because of the hypercompetitive world. Everybody is competing to get good grades to get into good schools and have very little time to sacrifice their time to volunteer to help the less fortunate because they think that they could be studying or doing things that would benefit them.

From the three paragraphs above, we can see that even though there are teens who are apathetic and do not care about the less fortunate, we should not forget the majority who are very sympathetic and are very willing to help the less fortunate around them. Therefore, I do not agree because it is wrong to generalize and say that teenagers today are apathetic towards the less fortunate.



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