Emotional Intelligence

The Need for Privacy

Today I felt a need for some privacy. I needed time to be alone. To think.

How many teens have a chance for privacy when they need it in a typical school environment?

This reminds me of the statement that “All men are created equal.” I don’t agree. Some people have different needs. Some need more privacy. Why? Because they need more time to think. And perhaps because they can’t share their thoughts with anyone. It might not be safe. Imagine you are raised in a place where everyone around you shares certain beliefs. But you question those beliefs. You know that the people around you don’t like it when you question their beliefs, so you need privacy. You need to be able to think alone. To search for answers alone. To make sense of things alone.

Most cultures do not offer this opportunity to intelligent young people. The people who have designed and who administer the schools, for example, don’t appreciate or understand a young person’s need to question things. So they don’t understand or appreciate a young person’s need for privacy either.

Who knows how much privacy a person needs? Obviously, only they do. But most often, we don’t allow a young person to meet their need for privacy. In fact, we probably have never even considered it. Speaking for myself, I never thought about my need for privacy when I was young. But now I realize such a need exists, that it is different for each person, and those who question more but feel unsafe to share their thoughts and questions need more privacy than others.

I know now that for some sensitive, intelligent teens, the only place they are able to have some limited sense of privacy is when they are in the bathroom. Even this though is controlled. Some teens have reported they are monitored on how long they are allowed inside the bathroom, or they are even followed in.

As a person who thinks and writes, it pains me to know that a young person, more sensitive and alone than even I was, does not have the “right” to fill such a basic need as deciding how long to be alone. Even the much worshiped concept of equal rights make no sense for such a person because they have unequal needs.

Society will take a great step forward when we put more attention on meeting the natural, individual needs of children and young people.

S. Hein
October 2010
Agadir, Morocco