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The Spectrum

The student news site of Dartmouth High School

The Spectrum

The student news site of Dartmouth High School

The Spectrum

The New Apathy: Many Teens are Disengaging

Peter Conrad

Recently, children have started to care less and less about things such as community and school. You have probably seen this apathy grow tenfold in recent years. I have seen first hand kids in my own school year disregard their responsibilities and lack any sense of care towards things such as grades, community service, and school/grade spirit. Not only have I personally seen this, multiple high school and college news sites such as The Witchian (Midwestern State Universities), The Pearl Post (Daniel Pearl Magnet High School), and Highlights (Beverly Hills High school) to name a few have also written about similar findings of a decline in school spirit. 

There were multiple times that I, and the other officers, would schedule community service group activities and we would get two, or if we were lucky five, people that would show up. 

When I was in middle school I was the Vice President of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). As the Vice President, it was my responsibility to lead meetings, schedule service activities, and get people to sign up for said service. There were multiple times that I, and the other officers, would schedule community service group activities and we would get two, or if we were lucky five, people that would show up. 

Specifically, I recall a time when we had set up a Gift to Give drop off. At our weekly meeting we worked on getting people to sign up for the said service activity, and in the end we got around 15 out of 62 to sign up. When we took attendance of the volunteers that had shown up at the Gifts to Give drop off, we noticed that not only did many people not show up that had signed up, and made the commitment, but we ended up only having four volunteers including an officer. This type of erratic behavior by the members was not unusual but clearly showed the advisor, officers, and me how much our class didn’t care about the community, school, or morals. Mind you this group of people were meant to be the most studious, dependable, and dedicated to serving the community.

 This type of apathy didn’t stop at just an NJHS issue, it even carried on to this year when my class entered freshman year and we had our first ever Spirit Week, something many asked for in middle school. During Spirit Week there were many ways to contribute and help your grade win such as dressing up everyday, bringing in cans, and playing in games at the pep rally. The area where the largest amount of disregard for school spirit can be seen was in the case of bringing cans in to be donated. While other grades brought in hundreds of cans, we brought in 17. When it came to dressing up, freshman again got the least amount of points for lack of commitment and a disregard for school/grade spirit. Many didn’t even attempt to dress up for any of the days no matter what the theme was. 

This behavior doesn’t begin nor does it start with the class of 2027. It is clear to see that this change hasn’t been a drastic change from one year to the next, it is simply a gradual apathy pandemic. During Spirit Week the upperclassmen cared far more about school spirit, though even this has diminished from classes that have come before the students currently. In addition to this, as I was leaving middle school we had to have an election for the replacements for the officers of the NJHS. There had been five positions to fill. In the end five people applied, one president, one vice president, two secretaries, one treasurer, and no one had even applied for a position as the historian. The advisor of the NJHS even said on multiple occasions that she had never seen the lack of participation that she saw with the 2027 class and onward. 

You may excuse this behavior as an effect of Covid-19 but this disinterest in school spirit and community service has been growing increasingly worse far before the pandemic.

You may excuse this behavior as an effect of Covid-19 but this disinterest in school spirit and community service has been growing increasingly worse far before the pandemic. Though I do not discount that Covid-19 was a stresser that encouraged not participating in said things due to lack of opportunity, I do, however, discount that it has been the main cause of the apathetic behaviors of teenagers. A possible conclusion could be reached that it has to do with age or even the fact that society as a whole has become greatly more disinterested in being an active part of their own community. 

One thing that is for certain is that this whole issue is not just coming from the teenagers themselves. In truth it is coming from the societal norm today that you just have to live your life and it doesn’t matter whether you are an active participant of bettering your community or not. This is an issue with the amount of not only apathy but all disrespect and a lack of believing people in society should have a moral obligation to their community. 

Think about it for a second, have you ever been walking into a store and the person in front of you doesn’t hold open the door or someone doesn’t say excuse me or please? These are all common things that once would have been considered routine, but now you should be grateful if someone says please. Not only are the adults who act like this not participating in their community in a proper way, they are also teaching their kids to act in the same behavior. If a child is being taught from a young age that they don’t have to help an old lady with her groceries or they don’t have to help a kid who’s struggling in school or they don’t have to donate the clothes they don’t wear anymore what would make them believe that they have to care about school or spirit or community?

Sure social media or Covid could be responsible for teenagers behaving in such a matter, but what about the adults? What about the fact that it has been a trend to not participate in the community for years? Kids nowadays are less worried about showing support to the community and more worried about how they come across to outsiders. This is why so many teenagers aren’t participating, they are scared of what society will think of them. Or, maybe they just are simply being encouraged by society to not care about school, spirit, or community. Preventing future generations from joining this same downward cycle is up to us. It is our responsibility to help and participate in the community. It is our responsibility to be a good role model for the future generations to follow after. This ability is within everyone, the question is will you use it? Will you start the trend of change?

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About the Contributor
Isabella Pires
Isabella is a freshman at Dartmouth High and this is her first year on The Spectrum newspaper. Isabella enjoys reading, the fall, candles, and Christmas. Her favorite book is If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin. Isabella also loves spending time with her family and watching cheesy rom-coms. She has always loved writing and has had her poems published twice now. A major goal of hers is to have her first book published by the time she graduates high school. Isabella is also in the Debate Club and Key Club.

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  • S

    Samuel JagodaMay 20, 2024 at 10:19 am

    Why should people be obliged to participate in the community? To donate to a charitable cause? To say “please” and “thank you”? All in all, why should we care? From the goodness of our hearts? I don’t think that’s going to happen. Most people, in this day and age, don’t take action because it is the morally correct thing to do (by the way, morals are subjective – although a group of people can and often do have common morals, especially in a community setting), they do it because it benefits them in some way. This is, unless, you shove it in their face, that you show them the devastating effects of remaining indifferent – and, trust me, putting up a few posters just won’t cut it.

  • A

    Ahmed RFeb 17, 2024 at 10:56 pm

    ~~Just wanted to note~~ (who the hell am I kidding I never note only one thing), Comparison from upper to lower classmen is invalid because not all parameters are preserved from experiment to experiment

    I smell a wannabe Wei brother on the way to errm acshifjuly me, no I understand that multiple parameters can be changed in a science experiment at the same time if you can couple them by dimensional analysis, but it does not work in this case for very obvious reasons

    Alr, Ill bite

    COVID-19 is definitely a major cause, don’t think you can’t weasel word out of that one by saying main cause. COVID-19 stole an entire normal school experience from us. We didn’t have one goddamn nice thing from 5th to 7th grade

    There’s also that children interact more online now, schools fail to take advantage of that, Distrust of authority (that’s on mr. authorities’ part), anxiety depression, and cultural expectation

    God do we go outside anymore?
    What the hell do we do for fun?
    What the hell are we supposed to do for fun?

    (Me projecting ?)

    I just realised that school isn’t the only place where you can have fun anymore, and won’t ever be till it adapts

    Imma screw off now, demotivation hits

    nvm, gotta say missed opportunity to talk about ’70s neoliberalism & libertarianism at the end there

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