I admit that my only interest in youth culture is to try to find out why so many adults seem to be enamored by it. From all I can learn about it, this is a culture whose members are totally enraptured with mobile technology, visit a lot of sex and porn Web sites, attend many movies, share prescription drugs and social networks and bring very little of a positive nature to society.
On the other hand this seems to work for the country, since there seems to be no widespread effort to curb the behavior. How this will affect future generations, we won’t know until it begins to happen. Or perhaps it already has started happening with the increase in teenage pregnancies.
Nevertheless, media seem to adore these cultural marvels and focus as much attention as possible on their exploits. I can understand why merchants gear their advertising and products to meet these folks' wants and needs. Obviously, they have more money than anybody else. Their parents appear to be wild about them.
The thing that I find most bothersome is that society as a whole seems to find these self-annihilating trends socially acceptable. Certainly, in most communities there are some churches and organizations that try to mentor young people, but by and large these youth seem to be totally adrift and left to their own devices.
I’m puzzled that more groups who deal with education are not expressing more outrage over the dropout rates in the nation’s high schools. And the increase in teenage births is also alarming.
Many parents and grandparents are having a hard time coping with teenage mothers and fathers. While this situation is difficult at the best of times, the shaky economy only makes it worse. Too often the grandparents find themselves in the position of having to assume the responsibility for caring for these infants. Researchers for the March of Dimes found that about 1 in 4 of these young mothers under 18 have a second baby within two years.
The fact that no one seems willing to initiate any national campaign to bring this situation under control, on second thought, I suppose is understandable. Many Americans have become so protective of their freedoms that one is almost afraid to try to save somebody’s life when it appears in jeopardy. You could be accused of meddling or, in the worst-case scenario, the victim of a lawsuit. In the case of these young mothers, though, the public has an interest, because many of them are high-school dropouts and unable to find the kind of jobs that will finance their lifestyles. As a result they wind up having to depend on government social services, which are paid for by the taxpayer. Frankly, I’m not optimistic that we will ever be able to settle this matter of when individual rights should prevail over the rights of the majority. The discussion has gone too long and too far to be adjudicated, I believe.
The plight of many children born to teenage parents is not rosy. Sometimes they are not healthy because the mothers had unhealthy diets, smoked, abused alcohol and drugs and failed to get prenatal care. And because their mothers lack parenting skills, the children often grow up in unstable environments and develop social disorders that linger with them for a great part of their life.
In this sense, we can see what the future holds for a portion of the more than 425,000 children born to teenage mothers each year. These children, then, will represent a significant part of the population.
I suppose all communities could institute parenting classes, but if young people would not go to school why would they attend these classes? Since the majority of Americans apparently don’t have any problem with young people dropping out of high school at such an enormous rate, we have a good chance of becoming a Third World country within a few decades. Obviously, the educated people will enjoy such an enormous advantage over the uneducated that the likelihood of the country falling into the hands of a dictator, which a friend of mine long predicted, is a fearful possibility.
Child worship is a dangerous practice. Young people do not have the experience or the knowledge to manage democratic society. All most of us can do is parent responsibly and hope that a way will be found to keep children in school.
Education is a must if we are to maintain a democratic republic.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.