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Young ones with the old problems

Being a teenager is hard. Victoria Neumark looks at a clutch of new videos that can help teachers to ease the pain.

WEATHERING THE TEENAGE YEARS 23 minutes Relate, 3 Kings Park Road, Southampton SO15 2AS. Tel: 01703 2297621

Two teenage girls are sitting on a bed. They are discussing how to get in with "Emma and them". One way might be to have their navels pierced. But would it hurt? And what would their Mums say?

Or, how about this? They could get some Es off an older brother and sell them. Yeah, that would be really cool! Or would it? Would they get in trouble? But if it was just five tabs. . .

Maddeningly accurate to anyone who has talked to Nineties teenagers, this snippet comes from the first scene in Relate's training video, Weathering the Teenage Years.

Other scenes feature groups of teenagers engaged in equally daft and ill-informed (but realistic) conversations about things such as casual sex, drinking and contraception. Peer pressure emerges backstage at a drama production where everyone's noses seem out of joint, and the most intense of the sequences shows teenagers suffering the spectacle of their mother and stepfather rowing over the stepfather's alleged favouritism towards his daughter; the son runs away and the girl tries to mother her own mother (rather stereotypically).

Most of the emotional focus in the video is on girls, a worrying reinforcement of our society's bias toward loading emotions on to females. For example, in the three scenes which discuss whether or not Minna should have slept with the dishy guy (much older, own car, job and flat), only one of the group is male, and he is cheerfully irresponsible. Yet boys, of course, however driven to distraction by their hormones, get hurt in love as well as inflicting hurt.

These and other issues could well surface in discussion. Relate has provided a booklet with tips for discussion leaders.

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