R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What It Means To Teens


by Tahirah Khan, Victoria Mione, Channing Russell 


Teens have a validation problem.

Their style choices are considered “a phase.” Their exploration of their sexuality is “an experiment.” Their political views are dismissed.

Whatever it is, by-and-large, teenagers are not taken seriously.

In the past year, teens have begun developing and expressing political opinions. Because of their age, though, some are deemed “too young” to really know what they’re talking about.

Tim Goetjen says how seriously a teen is taken can depend on many things.

“I think it depends on how well informed the teen is,” said Goetjen, an undergraduate at Rutgers.

Goetjen, an honors student who is studying chemistry and computer science, added that, “there are often times where teens will go off the cuff and keep their opinion based on, well, opinion. That might be taken less seriously, as opposed to more fact-based.”

Teens are the faces of the future and next in line to run the world, but how are young millennials and those born in Generation Z supposed to lead when older generations won’t even listen to what they have to say?

Kim Parker, a Rutgers undergraduate student involved in Gatza Lab research, agreed with Goetjen, though she added that adults can have a validation problem sometimes too.

“I think both teenagers and adults will go just based on opinion without fact checking,” said Parker. “So I think it is important that you should be based in fact, but it’s not exclusive to just teens that that happens.”

The issue of teen fashion choices has been relevant for decades.

Often, classified as a “rebellious phase”, teenage style has been frequently looked down upon in recent years. Whether it be revealing tops, outlandish hairstyles, or unique piercings a teenagers style can and does one views them.

Or at least it had.

Erin Dolan and Susan Maser, both mothers of teens at some point or another, expressed their opinions on the teenage style.

They described the teenage aesthetic as a dichotomy. “Very pushing the envelope” said Dolan. “At times, and at other times being confident themselves and going with it” responded Maser.

Is it possible the teen aesthetic could be both? A raunchy yet confident attitude which commands a type of respect? A group of Rutgers undergraduate and graduate students gave their take on the issue at hand.

Alexis Alba and Dylan Bergen, a pair of 25 year old students, had scattered viewpoint similar to Dolan and Maser.

Berger has observed that “now there is a lot more low- cut and it’s become acceptable, not like there is anything wrong with that.” He expressed that teenagers now have more freedom to be able to express themselves through style, as opposed to when he was a teenager.

Alba, on the other hand, claimed that teens “don’t even wanna be teenagers anymore…they just wanna drink.”

What was revealed is an ever-present divide on how teens are perceived by older generations.                                                                                                                                                    For teens dealing with issues like their sexuality, the respect and acceptance issue can be even more problematic.

Their sexual preference is deemed as a result of confusion. Parents whose children are LGBTQ have a wide range of reactions towards the truth.

“I support it 100 percent” stated Maser, when she was asked how she would react to her children coming out.

Meanwhile, explaining her thoughts on it all, she mentions how one knows their sexual preference involves growing as an individual. Hormones, age and maturity plays a big role in figuring out themselves, in her opinion.



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