Greek Teens React to Crisis: Part 1

In the midst of Greece's economic turmoil teens are growing up faster and forming their own political opinions.

The teen generation is being greatly impacted by Greece's debt crisis. In the midst of Greece's economic turmoil teens must learn to manage with less, as their parents suffer from budget cuts or unemployment.

The Greek school system does not provide substantial education for teens, so students must supplement their morning lessons with afternoon tutoring programs. Although these programs are expensive, families do their best to continue sending their children to tutoring even in this time of financial instability. However, the severe budget cuts and tax increases are forcing families to think about their priorities. Chrysa Kouroukli, a 17-year-old girl living in Athens, attests to this: "I have to think about what I can and can't buy and make conscious choices. I have one friend who can't go to tutoring because her parents can't afford it, while those who are in wealthy families don't have to worry about it." Teens who can no longer be tutored are at a disadvantage. Chrysa explains: "In Greece you have to go to extra school in the afternoon in order to get the necessary education to get into college." So those whose families cannot afford to send them to tutors are hindered in their ability to get into the Greek college system and find a well-paying job, making them more likely to be poor as adults. The class divide is heavily felt in the teen population, as the majority who are of lower-middle class must budget their spending, while the upper class minority can continue fairly comfortably with their daily lives.

The austere restriction on cash withdrawal from banks at 420 euros per week is an obstacle that many families must learn to work around. Chrysa describes how families cope: "You have to slowly save up some of the money to pay for things like tutoring, utility bills, and taxes. It's difficult because instead of taking out a large sum of money you may need to pay your expenses, you can only go to the bank once a week and take out a little at a time."

An unfortunate social effect of Greece's economic crisis is that teens are forced to grow up much faster than they otherwise would, as they must face the harsh reality of parents being unemployed or not having enough money to buy food. The teen generation is being thrown abruptly into the chaos and experiencing the effects of the economic crisis. As a result, teens are forming their own views on the political roots of the calamity. Many teens blame the previous generation for electing the incompetent former government that borrowed excessively and took exorbitant loans, putting Greece in debt. Chrysa expresses the views she shares with many of her friends and with teens all over Greece: "It is unfair that we [the teens] have to pay for the debts of our parents and grandparents. When they supported Greece borrowing loans they weren't thinking about how much their children would have to undergo in order to repay the debts. Why do we have to suffer because they weren't thinking about us?" This anger pervades throughout adolescents who are irate that they have to face the consequences of their ancestors' mistakes.

Image courtesy of Chrysa Kouroukli