(This post was originally posted by Ruth Owen on the Coronation Street Blog April 2015, reposted to this blog with permission.)
Having worked with young people for the whole of my career, I have often wondered why Coronation Street has not plundered the issues concerning this demographic more thoroughly. Yes, there was a bit about Faye being bullied online, though its effects weren’t fully explored.
There have also now been two teenage pregnancies and two teenage births. It is very early days for Faye, but we also have an example of the relationship between a very young teenage mother and her child, also now a teenager, and we can see very clearly that it’s not all bad. In fact, some might say that Sarah and Beth have as good a relationship as any mother/child relationship, or at least not much worse. There is the advantage too of possible similar interests, which might deepen their bond. On the other hand there might also be the disadvantage of the closeness in age, making the mother’s authority less effective. But then, anyone who is or has been a parent to a teenager will know that it presents its challenges.
It will be very interesting to see how the Faye and her baby storyline develops. It feels at the moment that although she is exhausted and undergoing a relationship breakdown with Owen, Anna will hold on to Faye’s child and will be dead set against putting the child up for adoption. Should the unlikely decision be made that baby Miley (Faye’s choice of name) be put up for adoption, there is no doubt that there would be many couples desperate to adopt her. Apparently, there are very few babies available for adoption in recent times in Britain. Even Madonna and Brangelina looked abroad.
There are though, many more issues that the writers could explore. One in particular that I have encountered so many times to be a problem in young people is eating disorders. The media would have us believe that the vast majority of those affected by anorexia or bulimia are girls, which is, in my experience and the experience of my colleagues, not actually the case. The majority of those affected by eating disorders are indeed girls, but the media fails to take into account that approximately 35% are boys or young men. Or even older men.
This leads me to suggesting that one of the youngsters could carry an eating disorders storyline. It is important too, to understand that it is not only those young people who may be perceived to have a weight problem who fall victim to bulimia or anorexia. It might be an idea to engage Bethany, Faye, Alya or Sophie in such a storyline or Craig maybe or Gary even.
It is, perhaps surprisingly, the case that it is not always young people who are affected. Often, older people become embroiled in these debilitating diseases. Having taught mature students for many years, as well as 16-18 year olds, I am only too well aware that older people are affected. So maybe Maria, Tracy or Michelle could be flung into the diseases’ grip. Perhaps Steve, even? After all, eating disorders are psychiatric illnesses. Aren’t the politicians, currently vying for our votes, raising awareness about mental health issues and trying to break down the stigma attached to mental illness? Well, by means of Steve’s depression, I would claim that Coronation Street has done more than the politicians and got there before them too. So come on Corrie, get in there with the prevalent problem of eating disorders and beat the politicians to it, once again.
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