Youth and Pain

Everyone experiences pain, be it emotional, physical, spiritual or mental pain. We Recent events have shown how detrimental unresolved pain can be, especially the emotional pain caused by bullying and other forms of abuse, both in and outside the home. Pain can lead to suicide, homicide, or have other long-term detrimental affects on further development in children and youth. Key to understanding this topic and its impact on youth is to talk to youth themselves and listen to their stories. This series of interviews, conducted in 2011, is an attempt to do just that.

While working on the topic of youth in pain, I have found that it is not a topic where there is much information available. As I have spoken with and interviewed different youth throughout the Boston area, I have found that many kids are dealing with pain on different levels (mostly emotional). As I probed further into the area of pain in youth by interviewing rofessionals who work with this age group, I have found that there is an even greater amount of young people who face an enormous amount of pain on a day-to-day basis. The interviews for some of the youth that I’ve spoken with went as follows (others to be added later):

Gina 18 yrs old (Female)

Believes there are 3 kinds of pain: Physical, Emotional, Mental She has experienced emotional pain. Example: Cousin (who is like brother), has cancer . Feeling: Feels sad to know that it’s hurting him and feels really bad to know that he could die and she’ll never see him again. How she deals with it: “I have decided to spend as much time with him as possible and spend good times with him, in case I don’t get to see him again. I cry (alone), once every three and a half weeks or so because Ithink of the worst case scenario (that I could lose him).”


Ruislet 17 yrs. Old (Male)

Believes there are 3 kinds of pain: Physical, Emotional, Mental

He has experienced emotional pain before: Example: “When my mom gets really angry and yells at me and says that I’m her worst child.” Feeling: “It’s hurtful” How he dealt with it: I try to be better at the moment (around that time), or just stay to myself (stay quiet).” Friends/ Peers:  Mostly deal with emotional pain Example: Bullying-unpopular kids are bullied verbally (about the way they look, or for no reason at all). Bullied kids stay quiet.


Rosemary 18 yrs old (Female)

Believes there are 2 kinds of pain: Physical and Emotional Has experienced Emotional pain Example: “My dad has been around, but not around. When he’s around it triggers emotional pain because he was not around for almost half of my life and now tries to enforce his authority on me. He thinks he has authority, but I don’t think he does. It’s annoying and it causes arguments between us.” Feeling: “I am aggravated because I don’t see him as a father figure, though I should. He was absent when I needed him most.” How she deals with it: “I put it on hold. I haven’t really dealt with it. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it because I was so young. I felt like there was no authority over me.” Stage of pain she is in: “I am not able to heal yet because I am not yet able to express how I feel.” Friends/Peers: “I see my peers go through a lot of emotional pain because of relationships. I don’t see physical pain as often, but there have been a few moments where I have.”


Robbie 15 yrs old (Male)

Believes that there are 3 kinds of pain: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual Sees Spiritual pain as people falling from God . Non-Chistians replace Godwith themselves instead of talking with God. They talk to and deal with everything themselves.

Has experienced emotional pain Example: Didn’t make 8th grade basketball tryouts. Was really upset because he thought he did very well.

Feeling: He felt sad, angry and cried How he dealt with it: He didn’t really deal with it Stage of pain he is in: Feels pretty much healed emotionally Friends/ Peers: Mostly sees them deal with emotional pain (especially girls who are dealing with issues with boyfriends). Believes that teens sometimes just need to turn their emotions off in order to deal with things in life, because it’s just a distraction (i.e.-girlfriends and boyfriend’s are constantly texting one another in class vs. paying attention).


Ricky 13 years old (Male)

Believes there are 3 kinds of pain: Physical, Mental, Emotional

He has experienced emotional pain Example: People getting to him at school because they were making fun of him. He couldn’t do anything as a result. I wasn’t able to get any school work done. Feeling: He felt weak, not important, not wanted. He couldn’t understand why they were making fun of him.

How he dealt with it: “I stopped thinking of the negative and began to think about the positives. I began to feel better and thought maybe they’re jealous and that’s why they’re putting me down. Over time, the situationchanged. I tried to make myself feel better by focusing on something else. Iasked myself why? Friends/Peers: Mostly deal with emotional pain


Serena 13 years old (Female)

Believes there are 3 kinds of pain: Physical, Mental, Emotional Believes  mental pain is “something going through your head, i.e.-if someone you care about passes away. Has experienced Emotional pain Example: “I saw a close friend of mine one time doing drugs and was sad because I knew the road that she was heading down.” Feeling: Sadness How she dealt with it: “I just left him alone. I only spoke with him part of the time, then eventually stopped talking to him because I didn’t want to be influenced by him.” Friends/Peers: “I mostly see teens my age dealing with emotional pain because their parents yell at them. I also know of friends who are in group homes and are sad because they miss their parents.”

written by Marjory Neret (and Chris Lloyd), cCYS

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