Adolescence is one of the most fascinating and difficult stages of life. It is a period when young people take their responsibilities and taste independence for the first time. It is a time of possibilities, but also of danger. It is also at this crucial age when youth are extremely vulnerable that they might threaten their future by committing terrible mistakes.
Unfortunately, the country's economic situation and the migration of many parents do not allow young people to grow up as they should. Many of them, left without parental care, must mature much more quickly than the average teen. Besides their studies, they are often responsible for taking care of the household and younger brothers and sisters. Adolescents must work hard to fill both the absent parent's role and their own role of child and student.
In conjunction with these heavy burdens, young people don't have access to the services and skills that would help them survive in this modern world. Very few have access to a computer, attend groups that interest them, or participate in some way or another in the life of the community. They lack books and fun activities that are suited to their age and they don't have anyone to help them form an adequate set of values that will enable them deal with life.
The majority of young people confront enormous emotional problems. Not having someone to talk to about the things that happen and not knowing who to turn to for good advice, many of them take the wrong path. Their vulnerability makes them a target for various dangers. Here are just a few examples:
Infection with HIV/AIDS. The number of people infected with the HIV virus continues to rise in Moldova, and half of them are young people. This is because adolescents know very little about methods of prevention or even how the infection is transmitted. They have limited access to youth-friendly services, to counselling and voluntary testing. The situation is aggravated by the fact that Moldova lacks a culture of going to the doctor regularly for checkups.
Substance and alcohol abuse. In recent years, the number of drug users has grown significantly and the users are growing younger each year. At the same time, programs that would prevent drug use among young people are utterly lacking, as are alternatives for spending their free time.
Children in conflict with the law. Infractions committed by minors represent ten percent of the total number of infringements documented in Moldova. The majority of law violations are economic in nature. Most of the adolescents who break the law are boys who are 16-17 years old. Before being placed in detention, most have already abandoned school, been left without shelter, or run away from home. Many of them are also victims of abuse, parental neglect, or have simply been abandoned.