Many teens keep worries quiet, feel misunderstood: poll

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 - Page 3

More than 30 percent of teenagers keep their worries to themselves instead of sharing them with family members and friends, according to a survey co-conducted by the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF), which has set up a toll-free help hotline for teenagers, which will be ready to take calls beginning next month.

Past surveys done by the Missing Children Data Resource Center, co-established by the Child Welfare League Foundation and the Ministry of the Interior’s Child Welfare Bureau, have shown that family conflicts and feelings that they are not understood are among the major reasons some teens run away from home, the foundation said.

“Missing teenagers are different from missing younger children. There are warning signs before teens go missing, such as a sudden increase in telephone calls received, and the likelihood of running away again after being found is high,” said Lin Wu-hsiung (林武雄), the office chairman of the center. “These teenagers feel that they don’t have anyone to confide in.”

The foundation surveyed children aged 13 to 15 and found that teens worry most about their school performance, with 57.2 percent of respondents indicating that schoolwork is their biggest concern.

Regarding peer relationships, 71.7 percent of the respondents said they worried about fighting with friends, nearly 40 percent said they felt stressed when friends made dirty jokes and 30 percent felt uncomfortable about the epithets they have been given by their peers.

“What is worth adding is that boys are more stressed by dirty jokes in the peer group than girls are, while the girls are more stressed than boys by a fight with friends or being excluded,” foundation president Joyce Feng (馮燕) said.

Sixty-seven percent of the surveyed teens said they felt stressed when their parents compared them to other children, and 36 percent claimed parental favoritism as a source of worry.

Questions about their appearance, personality and health were also posed, and the results show that about 20 percent of the teenagers surveyed dislike how they look, 21 percent dislike their own personality and 20.4 percent do not consider themselves healthy.

Thirty-three percent of respondents said they would rather keep their problems to themselves than tell anyone, the survey shows.

“The percentage of boys unwilling to share their worries stands at 39.15 percent, much higher than that of girls [at 29.3 percent],” Feng said.

“We encourage all troubled teens to call the helpline, which has many people willing to listen,” Lin said.