Few willing or able to change irresponsible youth culture

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

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.


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John Mier August 25, 2009 | 8:55 a.m.

I think the headline makes your point: Few willing or able to change irresponsible youth culture. I see no engine of change in this column, either; just a review of the problem.
If births are the issue, let's take it a step further: the number of births to unwed parents - excluding the mother's age - is on the rise. Forty percent of all births in Missouri in 2007 were to unmarried mothers, per Bureau of Vital Records statistics. The teens' pool of adult role models is slipping. President Obama has spoken on the importance of fatherhood - perhaps he should continue that and be one of the few willing and able.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 25, 2009 | 10:02 a.m.

>>> 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. <<<

What outrages me more is that the African American Leadership in this community is not standing up and being more vocal,more proactive and more vigilant on our community streets in working to stop this crime spree by the young gang banging thug type African American Male population only centered on causing mayhem and crime in this community!

That is what outrages me the most and why aren't you as an African American Leader in the local press writing more articles in calling for more support from your brothers and sisters to form tighter and stronger neighborhood watch groups,go out on patrol if you must and take the message to the streets just like Martin Luther King once did!

The power of the press is a very powerful tool indeed if you choose to make it work to it's fullest potential.

First get the crime under control then you can work backwards into the main issue of the entire problem.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 25, 2009 | 11:17 a.m.

I'd like to thank the black community for buying into the messages glamorized by "gangsta' rap" music, the absence of the males' presence as a "good" father, the mothers breeding for additional government TANF benefits, finding meaning in their lives and achieving validation via gang membership, crime and drugs, dropping out of school and landing in jail.
It allows an opportunity to those who want to martyr themselves as teachers, social workers and clergy. You are providing jobs and cash flow for our judicial system. You give our polticians reasons to push for more "entitlement" programs, which creates more governmental powers.
Society thrives on the drama. You provide us with "newsworthy" articles and are so entertaining to observe, as you throw your lives away.
And, how wonderous it is to watch these cultural lifestyles bleed over into the "white community" as celebrityism and hedonism become their new religions.
(Be proud, for Satan must be dancing a jig in Hades.)

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 25, 2009 | 11:38 a.m.

Funny, my black neighbors don't seem to have bought into those various messages, Ray. If you want to get all stereotypical, the dad has bought into the good ol' boy race car thing that us white folks started.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 25, 2009 | 11:44 a.m.

ray shapiro I agree with your post 100%

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 25, 2009 | 12:30 p.m.

John Schultz says:
("Funny, my black neighbors don't seem to have bought into those various messages...")
--You must be blessed.

(Report Comment)

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