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Skylight Not Surprised By Recent Youth Issues in the Media

September 9, 2011

Skylight Distressed But Not Surprised By Recent Youth Issues in the Media

Recent media highlighting youth suicide and bullying, deeply distresses but does not surprise Skylight.

“In the intense media coverage that has surrounded issues affecting New Zealand youth in recent weeks and months, it becomes so clear that we cannot just ‘talk at’ today’s young people, we must talk with them. But, we must also listen,” says Skylight’s Chief Executive Mrs Bice Awan.

From over 40,000 Year 9 student surveys Skylight has collected since 2008 we know:

• 7% of Year 9 students “do not feel good about themselves most of the time” – which is almost 1 in 10 students and this is a statistic that is consistent from year to year;
• that this equates to 2800 students from the whole survey pool – enough students to fill a large high school in New Zealand; and
• this year’s respondents represent only 1/3 of NZ high schools which leaves us to believe that there are many more young people in New Zealand who also do not feel good about themselves.

“Skylight is committed to listening to what young people themselves say and to offer them brighter prospects for their future before hope is lost”, says Mrs Awan.

These statistics come from Skylight’s Travellers online survey.

Some of the comments students have made include:

My family’s a mess. My dad left, my mum lost her job and I don’t like my brothers. My life sucks!
My Dad is stressing out and taking it out on me.
My mother is very violent all the time, making me afraid of her. I fell almost all of the time that I don’t feel like the person I want to be.
When I was told my sister had a mental illness it hit me really hard. I didn’t understand that these things just happen. She was sick for a long time and tried to kill herself.
I moved to NZ three years ago and have made few friends. My best friend moved to another school and it’s really hard. I feel really lonely.
I was sexually abused when I was little. I still struggle with this fact and it burns my chest. It upsets me and I cry sometimes when I think about it.
I can’t satisfy my parent’s expectations.
I am quite bored with life. I don’t know what my purpose is.

Through the online Travellers survey, students in their first year of high school, self-identify how they are feeling about themselves and their life circumstances. Their responses can give schools pointers about issues in their lives that the school may be unaware of and identify those students who may go unnoticed and who ‘fly under the radar’.

Phil Smith, Skylight’s National Travellers Manager says:

“In light of all the recent statistics about youth, Skylight believes communities need to access all possible strategies available to them to support their young people through their tough times. Travellers is one of these strategies.

“It is a programme that schools can tailor to reflect their school context and to assist them to support their Year 9 students to better understand how they feel about themselves and their world.”

Travellers is only one part of Skylight’s ongoing conversation with children and young people, their families and communities. As well as providing counselling from it’s Wellington base, Skylight also provides comprehensive services – resources, professional development and counselling – to individuals and to other agencies throughout New Zealand and are accessed internationally.

Any parent, professional, organisation or school seeking help for their community can contact Skylight on 0800 299 100 or by going to


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