Why we should all listen to Jenni Herd.


04/03/2014 by RFB

This morning this letter written by Jenni Herd was printed in the Times:


Why was Jenni so offended by the article in question? This is how it started:

“It’s not hormones that make them moody and impulsive. A new book by psychiatrist Professor Dan Siegel explains the science of adolescence and how parents can best manage their teens.” – “How to understand your teenagers brain”, Professor Dan Siegel, The Times, 1st March 2014

If you can’t see how that might be offensive, try it out now with another group who have a history of oppression and who experience social prejudice on a daily basis:

“It’s not hormones that make them moody and impulsive. A new book by A. Psychiatrist explains the science of women and how men can best manage their wives.”

Young people, like women, are not something ‘other’. As Herd says, they are not “another species” or “strange creatures from another world” that require scientific investigation to understand and control. Young people are real people. Have we not all been younger than we are right in this moment? Were we not as real then as we are now?

We don’t need science to ‘understand’ teenagers, or young people of any age for that matter. What we do need is empathy, a little emotional intelligence and an interest in relating as people. Rather than attempting to manage young people, parents would be wise to focus their energy on building from birth a respectful and trusting relationship with them. Using science in an attempt to demystify them, even with the best of intentions, undermines their individuality and is both dehumanising and oppressive.

We should all listen to Jenni Herd.


6 thoughts on “Why we should all listen to Jenni Herd.

  1. Jenni Herd says:

    Thank you! I’m amazed at the response my letter got (I wrote it on a whim and didn’t expect it to even get published). So many people on twitter and across the internet are telling me to shut up and stop moaning, and it’s lovely to see someone else who understands why I am so annoyed!

  2. Jenni says:

    Wow, this is by far the most articulate and clever response I’ve seen about my letter! I wrote it on a whim on Sunday, and honestly didn’t expect much from it – to see such a varied response from teenagers and adults alike is bewildering and astounding. The good folks on twitter are split between loving me and hating me, with those on the latter side saying that I’m moaning and being stupid. It’s lovely to see someone who agrees with me, and understands why I was so annoyed. Thank you!

    • Jenni says:

      Sorry, should probably clarify – I’m Jenni Herd!

      • schristophy says:

        Hi Jenni! Thank you for your comments, and thanks for writing your letter in the first place! People struggle to see the prejudice faced by young people, and often feel defensively about it, but the more we talk about it the better as things have to change. Take a look around the other articles in my blog, it would be great to hear your thoughts!

  3. […] deze blog ontdekte ik deze lezersbrief van de zestienjarige Jenni Herd in de […]

  4. Jenni – brilliant letter, straight from the heart and straight to the point.
    I remember feeling exactly the same way in my teens and early twenties. Now 36, I think it’s time I regained some of that anger and passion once in a while, and leave the world you inherit a better place.

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