No festivals, no schoolies: young people are missing out on vital rites of passage during COVID

Ben Green, Griffith University and Andy Bennett, Griffith University

As we approach the end of a uniquely challenging school year, the class of 2020 look set to miss out on many of the usual highlights of year 12.

Graduation ceremonies, formals, schoolies week and summer music festivals have either been cancelled or restricted.

Meanwhile, those who may have been planning a gap year overseas are not able to leave the country.

Read more:
There’s a ban on leaving Australia under COVID-19. Who can get an exemption to go overseas? And how?

So far, public discussion of these cancellations have understandably focused on the risks posed by COVID and the possible mental health impacts on young people.

But young people aren’t just missing out on a chance to wear fancy clothes or party with their mates. Events like schoolies and formals also have a profound social purpose as rites of passage.

What are rites of passage?

Rites of passage are rituals that accompany changes in social status for individuals and groups. Their importance has been recognised by social researchers for more than a century.

In ethnographer Arnold Van Gennep’s original 1909 work, which is still broadly accepted by researchers, rites of passage share three basic phases:

  • a symbolic separation from normality, such as by travel or costumes
  • an in-between stage, in which social norms and hierarchies are cast off and people embrace a community spirit
  • a ceremonial confirmation of the new state of affairs, often with symbols like a ring or crown.

This creates a transformative experience for people. It marks a change as special, by stepping outside ordinary life.

The brief upturn in the social order also allows the community to strengthen its bonds and reaffirm its support for the broader, existing social system.

Traditional rites of passage are in decline

For young people today, ceremonies like school graduations or schoolies trips are even more important than for previous generations.

Declining rates of religious affiliation means religious coming-of-age has also declined in importance. Changing social norms also mean events like debutante balls and weddings are no longer common practice for teenagers and those in their early 20s.

Meanwhile, traditional economic markers of growing up – such as moving out of home, and starting full-time work – are also proving more elusive for young people, thanks to challenging job and housing markets.

Read more:
Six graphs that explain Australia’s recession

Schoolies, gap years are even more important

This means other cultural traditions are a critical part of how young people transition to adulthood.

Often when we talk about “muck up” days, schoolies and gap years, debates focus (not always fairly) on the risks involved with young people who are celebrating and testing boundaries.

A crowded Cavil Mall on the Gold Coast during schoolies.
The Queensland government has cancelled official schoolies celebrations due to COVID.
Dean Saffron/AAP

But research has shown how schoolies and gap year travel act as rituals to mark and manage the otherwise often unremarkable transition to adulthood.

These episodes provide a meaningful break with normal life and past identity. They see young people leave their comfort zone to experience a sense of community with their peers, before moving to the next stage of life.

Similarly, music festivals, while not one-off events, can also provide these experiences. Nightclubs and parties – which have also been significantly curtailed during COVID – are also spaces to escape everyday rules and experience communal energy within the broader period of emerging adulthood.

Lasting impacts?

In addition to the impact on education – which has yet to be fully understood – there are other ways in which the class of 2020 may be roundly disadvantaged.

COVID-19 has changed so many of the cultural experiences young people use to make their way into adulthood.

So, what might be the lasting consequences for this year’s school leavers?

Nightclub, with disco ball, smoke machine and people dancing.
Nightclubs are a place for young people to escape everyday rules.

Missing out on rites of passage like schoolies week and festivals could mar the transition into adult society in subtle but palpable ways.

Without such cultural experiences it is harder to know when this change has really happened, to respect its significance and feel a sense of belonging in one’s new social role.

As per Van Gennep’s work, this cohort of young people is also missing chances to bond as a community and to reaffirm their commitment to the social order by temporarily disrupting it.

This is why, in the absence of formal rites of passage, people develop their own replacements, for better or worse. Recent reports of an impromptu rave inside a kebab shop show that young people will find other ways of crossing boundaries together – testing both legal and social norms.

Read more:
‘It really sucks’: how some Year 12 students in Queensland feel about 2020

On a more positive note, our ongoing research with young people about making music during COVID-19 is showing their resilience and creativity in balancing safety with social needs. Online performances are providing some missing ritual and social media also allows a level of community experience.

While we maintain our focus on community health and safety, we must recognise that what might look like frivolous or risky activities can have huge significance for young people as they move into adulthood.

This means they also have huge significance for our society more broadly.The Conversation

Ben Green, Postdoctoral resident adjunct, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University and Andy Bennett, Professor, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recessions scar young people their entire lives, even into retirement


Jenny Chesters, University of Melbourne

It is well-established that recessions hit young people the hardest.

We saw it in our early 1980s recession, our early 1990s recession, and in the one we are now entering.

The latest payroll data shows that for most age groups, employment fell 5% to 6% between mid-March and May. For workers in their 20s, it fell 10.7%

The most dramatic divergence in the fortunes of young and older Australians came in the mid 1970s recession when the unemployment rate for those aged 15-19 shot up from 4% to 10% in the space of one year. A year later it was 12%, and 15% a year after that.

Unemployment rates 1971-1977

ABS 6203.0

At the time, 15 to 19 years of age was when young people got jobs. Only one third completed Year 12.

What is less well known is how long the effects lasted. They seem to be present more than 40 years later.

The Australians who were 15 to 19 years old at the time of the mid-1970s recession were born in the early 1960s.

In almost every recent subjective well-being survey they have performed worse that those born before or after that period.

Read more:
There’s a reason you’re feeling no better off than 10 years ago. Here’s what HILDA says about well-being

Subjective well-being is determined by asking respondents how satisified they are with their lives on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is totally dissatisfied and 10 is totally satisfied.

Australia’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey (HILDA) has been asking the question since 2001.

In order to fairly compare the life satisfaction of different generations it is necessary to adjust the findings to compensate for other things known to affect satisfaction including income, gender, marital status, education and employment status.

Doing that and selecting the 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 surveys to examine how children born at the start of the 1960s have fared relative to those born earlier and later, shows that regardless of their age at the time of the survey, they are less satisfied than those born at other times.

Subjective wellbeing by birth cohort over four HILDA surveys

Subjective well-being on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is totally dissatisfied and 10 is totally satisfied.
Regressions available upon request

The consistency of lower levels of subjective well-being reported by the 1961-1965 birth cohort suggests something has had a lasting effect.

An obvious candidate is the dramatic increase in the rate of youth unemployment in at the time many of this age group were trying to get a job.

Over time, labour markets can recover but the scars of entering the labour market during a time of sudden high unemployment can be permanent.

Read more:
The next employment challenge from coronavirus: how to help the young

The impacts of the early 1980s and early 1990s recessions on young people were alleviated somewhat by the doubling of the Year 12 retention rate and later by the doubling of university enrolments.

But the education sector is maxed out and might not be able to perform the same trick for the third recession in a row.

Reinvigorating apprenticeships and providing cadetships for non-trade occupations might help. Otherwise the effects of the 2020 recession on an unlucky group of Australians might stay with us for a very long time.The Conversation

Jenny Chesters, Senior Lecturer/ Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Iran violence increasing, Christians are concerned

Riot police attacked hundreds of demonstrators with tear gas and fired live bullets in the air to disperse a rally in central Tehran Monday, reports MNN. Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard issued a warning to demonstrators that they would face a “revolutionary confrontation” if they continued to protest results of the June 12 presidential vote. It’s unclear how many people have died or have been injured in the unrest.

Despite the violence SAT-7 PARS — Christian Persian satellite television — continues to beam programming into Iran, says SAT-7’s David Harder. Harder says SAT-7 isn’t taking sides politically, but they are concerned. “We are concerned about the innocent being injured. We have many youth who watch SAT-7 PARS, and we are concerned that they may have gotten caught up in these different clashes where, tragically, people are being killed.”

Harder isn’t surprised by the violence. “It reflects the desire that many people have–especially young people–in that country for some greater freedoms, and often that’s leading people to seek spiritual answers,” he says.

Satellite television is still illegal in Iran, but SAT-7 PARS continues broadcasting even though some channels have been blocked. Harder says, “Those who may be disenchanted with the political situation, whatever it is, can still seek and find answers and find the truth in the Lord Jesus by watching SAT-7 PARS.”

While their programming continues, Harder says he’s still concerned for Christians living there. “Often when there is anti-western sentiment, Christians are the scapegoats. Local Christians are blamed. So, we do have concern for the Christians and the churches in Iran, and we’re praying they’re not blamed for being political agitators.”

SAT-7 believes about 1-million people watch SAT-7 PARS, but Harder believes that’s a low estimate. He says the number of Christians in Iran is growing, and they need help. “There is reported to be a great movement of house churches within Iran. And so we want to provide training for house church leaders. Often the people who are leading these house churches have only been followers of Jesus for a short period of time.”

That’s why they’ve started a broadcast called SOTA, which stands for Seminary of the Air. Harder says, “They are Iranian professors, and they can help answer questions that really reflect life in Iran and help these churches grow. We want to see them become self-sustaining with leaders who are being equipped and then can be successful in leading those churches.”

SAT-7 PARS, says Harder, is also broadcasting programming for youth. “75-percent of Iranians are under age 30. So we’re trying to meet the needs of the youth who are watching, as well.”

Christian satellite radio and television programming is essential for spiritual growth for Christians in Iran. “There simply aren’t many resources for Iranian Christians. For many of them, television and radio are just about the only way they can get resources. For some people, they can’t get a Bible. They write down verses as they see them on the screen.”

Report from the Christian Telegraph


Bishop Juan Ruben Martinez of Posadas in Argentina said celibacy cannot be reduced to a “mere imposition of the Church” and that “bad examples and even our own limitations do not invalidate the contribution of so many who, in the past and today, give their lives for others,” reports Catholic News Agency.

Bishop Martinez said that a “materialistic vision” of man that is based solely on “instinct and the physiological” makes it difficult to these values as a “gift of God” and an “instrument of service to humanity and to the common good.” He recognized that “from materialistic anthropology, celibacy and monogamous marriage tend to be considered as something unnatural.” However, he warned, “To reduce celibacy to a mere imposition of the Church is in fact to insult our intelligence and Christ himself who was ‘the eternal high priest,’ ‘celibate,’ and gave his life for all of us, and he himself recommended it. It is to insult the biblical texts which show great respect for celibacy and chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and it insults the Fathers, doctors and pastors of the Church from apostolic times to the present.”

“Uniting celibacy with the priestly ministry is a more radical Gospel choice made by the Church based on her authority and supported by the Word of God and the testimony of the saints and of so many men and women who, throughout history, strove and strive through this gift and even through their own frailties to give everything exclusively to God and his people. Bad examples and even our own limitations do not invalidate the contribution of so many who, in the past and today, give their lives for others,” the bishop said.

He went on to note that only on the basis of faith can we have “a profound understanding of issues such as life, the family, marriage, the Church and her mission, the priesthood and celibacy.”

Bishop Martinez encouraged Catholics to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, “trusting in the initiative of God and man’s response,” and he thanked God, who continues to call young people to consecrate themselves to God and their brothers and sisters. “They respond to the call because they believe in love,” he said.

Report from the Christian Telegraph

Teachers Know to Say No to No

Did you know that saying no is a no no in NSW schools? I didn’t know that until recently, as only those in the know knew that to say no was a no no because it was so demoralizing to kids. That’s right, there is no such thing as saying no to students because it can be physcologically harmful to the development of students. So now you can’t say no and any real discipline of children is also frowned upon… one can only think what the next generation will be like – extremely self-centred and poorly behaved I would suggest, certainly in the majority of cases.

I would expect there will be plenty of people saying, ‘yeah, so what … it should be that way. A child’s dreams can be shattered, blah de blah de blah…’ In short, more of this ridiculous physco babble that is making society a bunch of cream puffs and wuses.

All across the length and breadth of modern society we are constructing a culture of weakness – poor social development, no social responsibility, disregard for authority, lack of respect, poor manners, an inability to behave in any acceptable manner, etc. All this because we have cast off those values which were once regarded as that which made a person decent and respectable. Sure, there was plenty that needed to go, but that which made real men and women has also been cast off, and in it’s place we are raising up generations of self-centred, ungrateful, obnoxious, dis-respectful cream puffs and wuses.

We now have young people out there who think nothing of ganging up on girls and raping them, of belting up older people for fun, of de-facing anything and everything they come accross, that have no ability to speak to others in a respectful manner, etc. I know of people in their thirties who behave like self-centred, tantrum throwing little children because society has allowed them to be brought up in such a fashion that that is all that they could become – adults who are nothing more than spoilt, immature and self-centred juveniles.

Just thought that was something to ponder tonight 🙂