When I was ten, I frequently commented on the lack of services and programs geared toward the preteen audience. I saw plenty of clubs, sports, outreaches, and volunteer opportunities directed at teenagers, but of course, I was too young for all of them. On the younger end of the spectrum, there were copious events and groups for children–most of which I was too old for. The opportunities I was young enough to participate in were alarmingly childish. I felt babied. There was virtually nothing and nobody specifically targeting my age group. The ones that were failed to resonate with me, or inaccurately portrayed my stage of life. (I wrote on this topic a while ago, found here.)
The thing is, I was absolutely right. It’s hard to find literature, music, and social events that really influence the preteen age and address their unique concerns. Body image, puberty, the internet (especially cyberbullying), preparing for and adjusting to secondary education, and feelings of opposite and same sex attraction are all issues that may be new to that audience. And while many of the concerns listed apply to teenagers as well, it is crucial that these topics be addressed to preteens differently, as they are younger and have a different perspective.
Overall, we really need to do a better job of reaching out to the preteen population. (Also, I avoid using the word “tween” because even though it accurately describes the stage between childhood and the teenage years, some preteens find it offensive and childish, and the term is most often used as derogatory.) Their concerns are just as valid as those of any age, and it’s important to address them in an informed and sensitive manner.