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High School Column: The pressures of being in school
CMA cadet columnist Web
Mikael Barker

It is really difficult being a teen these days. In my opinion, some of the most challenging problems teens face today are bullying, academic pressure, peer pressure, social media issues, and deciding on a future.

My name is Mikael Barker and I am a senior cadet at Camden Military Academy. I have been here three years now, but I attended public school my freshmen year. Throughout my high school years, I have recognized and even experienced these problems.

Perhaps the most serious problem facing teens today is bullying. We have all met that stereotypical high school bully, but times are changing, and bullies are becoming more creative.

One type of bullying that I feel affects most young people today is cyberbullying. Put something on social media and within a push of a button it may go viral. The next thing you know everyone around you knows about it. According to, cyberbullying involves “primarily verbal aggression, threatening or harassing electronic communications, and relational aggression. Electronic bullying can also involve property damage resulting from electronic attacks that lead to the modification, dissemination, damage or destruction of someone’s privately stored information.” Cyberbullying can be verbal or take the form of someone posting humiliating pictures on different social media platforms. Teens must learn the great responsibility that comes with using social media.

Another problem facing teens is academic pressure. Often a teen will give up on school because it may come to seem too hard. Sometimes students simply do not like a teacher or they may become discouraged by a teacher. These circumstances make it more difficult to appreciate or enjoy learning. There is also enormous pressure to be a “perfect” student, due to the increased competitiveness of getting into college these days. This academic pressure often leads to depression and, sometimes, suicide.

Peer pressure is another problem. Of course, there is pressure to use drugs and alcohol, but there is even pressure to adopt a certain attitude. Teens want to belong and be a part of the “cool kids” or some popular group. This is not new to being a teen, but today there’s social media that acts as a form of peer pressure and one that can prove to be dangerous. Famous people who have made successful lives while doing drugs or embracing “risky” behavior all too often encourage teens--through social media -- to pursue success from drugs or the other elicit behaviors. This makes it difficult and frustrating for parents to help their teenage sons or daughters to steer clear of straying down these seemingly desirable -- but dead-end -- paths, because parents want to teach their children that doing the right thing is always best.               

Finally, there is real worry about preparing for our future. We teens care about our future, but sometimes we do not know how to set goals. Often, the goals we set are not high enough and we do not really believe in ourselves. As long as we do not have the self-confidence to get into college or get that dream job, we will never make it happen. Sometimes we all need a gentle push in life and some sound advice. Please, if you or your teens are worried about the future (and we all are), do not wait to give them the love, help and support they need.

But in closing, I want to mention that my time at Camden Military Academy has helped me to recognize and overcome these and other difficulties facing young people. That is because of the brotherhood. The brotherhood is something that is sometimes hard to describe, but in a nutshell, it is a “family for life.”  In our cadet agenda are many stories from former cadets. One of them that sticks out to me is of Cadet Alexander Trznadel (CMA ‘12). Although I do not know this cadet, his memories of CMA are so very similar to my experiences. We both came to CMA as strangers, but will depart as family. We all have different stories, but these bonds of “family for life” that we all experience are awesome. We all have different stories, but we are joined together with a common goal. At CMA, one is taught to always be honest. And just because we do not look alike or dress alike, it’s bad to make anyone feel wrong. It makes me feel bad when I see people who pick on someone because they dress differently or do not look a certain way. I am glad to be a part of a brotherhood in which we dress alike in a uniform that represents unity. I owe a big “thank you” to CMA for helping me overcome so many of the issues that teens face today.