USA: What is happening to me?
“There’s this feeling that you can’t manage life on your own,” says 14-year-old Josiah. “I always felt safe at school. But the news about all these shootings really scares me,” confesses Collin, eleven years old. “It’s like I’m not able to trust anybody at this point”, regrets Nolan, twelve years old. “I tried to convince myself that I was fine. But I wasn’t fine with what people were saying about me,” says Kayleigh, a victim of harassment and exclusion of people on social networks, also known as ‘cyber bullying’. New Zealand-born photographer Robin Hammond has taken portraits of young people in five US states. His pictures show a fundamental insecurity.
According to estimates, about one in three US teenagers struggles with mental health issues. Between 2019 and 2021 alone, the number of drug-related deaths among children aged between ten and 18 more than doubled, according to statistics from the national public health agency of the United States (CDC). News of violence in schools also plays a significant role in the growing fear and anxiety. Between February 2010 and March 2023, there were dozens of shootings at schools and universities that resulted in deaths and injuries – among students and teachers alike. Many young people are also victims of verbal abuse online by their peers.
Photographer: Robin Hammond, New Zealand/UK (Panos Pictures)
Robin Hammond, born in 1977 in New Zealand, has lived in Japan, South Africa, and France, among other places, and currently lives in the UK. The main focus of his work is human rights. He is the founder and director of ‘Witness Change’, an organization which works to improve the living conditions of marginalized social groups.
Among the prestigious awards Hammond has already won are two World Press Photo Awards and the W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography. His photo series have been published in Time Magazine, the New York Times, and National Geographic, among others.