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'That's what it's come to . . . We see children who are adult oriented as being aberrant'
The Globe and Mail ^ | Saturday, January 31, 2004 | ALANNA MITCHELL

Posted on 01/31/2004 3:47:29 PM PST by mark_interrupted

By ALANNA MITCHELL Saturday, January 31, 2004 - Page F1

The two boys are wearing identical outfits -- baggy, chemically faded jeans, oversized winter coats and immaculate white runners, laces untied and tongues jutting up over the cuffs of their pants.

The two girls have a more revealing uniform: ultra-skinny jeans and puffy coats that skim the waist, one in brilliant white with a belt at the bottom and the other in tan.

They've claimed a sweet vantage point in the mall, right at the entrance to the Famous Players theatre. It's a game of "see and be seen," of scanning the packs of passers-by, checking out the swagger and identifying the various tribes here in the natural element of the mysterious, modern teen.

Few adults appear. When they do, they're in pairs, determined to make their movies on time. They glance almost furtively at the four teens monopolizing the corner of the entrance and at the throngs of other teens descending on the mall on a bustling Friday evening.

From a distance, the kids seem fresh and full of potential. They can't be anything like the ones who have spawned the parent-freaking headlines of the past few years: suicide, gangs, early sex, pregnancy, alienation, Littleton, Taber, Reena Virk and other random acts of violence from coast to coast.

Or can they? Let's try talking to them.

White coat bolts straight away, without making eye contact, and flees in horror to the embrace of the rest of her pack several metres away. Tan jacket stands her ground with the boys, a hostile look on her face. So what is it with teens today, they're asked.

Delivered by one of the boys, the brush-off is immediate and absolute. "We're kind of busy," he says, with a hard look on his face. Then he turns his back.

When Gordon Neufeld hears this story a few days later, he laughs. An experienced clinical psychologist in Vancouver, he recognizes the symptoms all too well. This is a sign of what he calls "peer-orientation" or "peer-attachment disorder," which he contends is a modern blight responsible for today's dangerous teen landscape and getting worse all the time.

According to Dr. Neufeld, teens who are peer-oriented dress alike and reject contact with adults. Their obsession with their friends and acquaintances supplants any real interest in adults to the point that they are emotionally detached even from their parents.

In fact, they despise grownups and often shun them. They have no stake in pleasing them any more because their emotional compass has switched from their parents to their friends. They're almost impossible to nurture or teach. And they certainly feel no obligation to explain themselves to an adult in a shopping mall.

"I'm convinced that peer-attachment disorder is the greatest disorder of our times," Dr. Neufeld says, adding that the problems of 90 to 95 per cent of the patients he sees are rooted in a skewed attachment.

In effect, he says, children are bringing up other children, and that's a recipe for dystopia straight out of Lord of the Flies. It's the death of parenthood.

This is the hypothesis that Dr. Neufeld and co-author Gabor Maté, a family physician and therapist in Vancouver, outline in their new book, Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Matter, published today in Canada and to appear next year in the United States.

Already the topic of controversy in the medical community, Hold On is a product of a billion-dollar industry devoted to counselling troubled parents striving to figure out what, if anything, is really wrong with their kids. One school of thought holds that it was ever thus -- causing parental angst is almost a childhood rite of passage.

But the thesis of these two specialists is anything but reassuring. They contend that the current generation of parents has pretty much lost its authority over children, either through negligence or indulgence, leaving them in an emotional void. To fill that void, kids bond with people their own age and wind up "peer-oriented."

This theory has its roots deep in the brain's biological survival instincts. Infants attach themselves to the grownups who take care of them and the grownups, in turn, attach to the children. As a result, babies will "make strange" with other adults. They want their parent and no one else.

But as the child grows older, reaching the age of 8 or 9, some parents withdraw their attachment, thinking they are acting for the best, and push children to be independent. Faced with an unbearable and unnatural attachment vacuum, the authors argue, such lost children will cling instead to whomever else is around. The brain, programmed to attach, goes for what's there, even if it's someone unsuitable.

This process has gained increasing momentum ever since the Second World War, as families have become more mobile and been allowed to break up more easily, and mothers have gone back to work and technology has advanced. Children have become attached to their peers and then been given little incentive to beak that bond. In effect, they've begun to make strange with their own parents.

As a result, parents lose the power to direct their children -- even if, as the Supreme Court of Canada ruled yesterday, they have a right to get physical with the younger ones. If kids don't care what their parents think, why do what they want?

What follows, according to Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Maté, is the death of curiosity, of maturation, of proper development with an aberrant society rising in its place.

Dr. Neufeld, who has pieced together this theory over 20 years of clinical practice and research, likens the situation to what could happen to a mother goose and her goslings. In the past, it didn't really matter if one or two of the youngsters wanted to follow other goslings because, as a group, they still traipsed behind the mother. But today, things are so topsy-turvy that she's now chasing the goslings, begging for a piece of the action.

At least she realizes that something has gone wrong. Today's parents, Dr. Neufeld says, grew up with a similar attraction to their peers, remain that way and so are often blind to what's going on. They think kids should be with other kids and work hard to make sure they are.

A couple approached him for help recently, upset that their 13-year-old son wanted to be with them all the time. "That's what it's come to," he says, sighing. "We see children who are adult-oriented as being aberrant."

Dr. Maté puts it another way: Even when the generations get together, they're not.

Think of the last party you went to -- it's unlikely that kids were invited. Even if they were, chances are they simply had a party of their own, gathering around the television set and ignoring any grownup bold enough to draw near.

Back at the Scarborough Town Centre, evening is becoming night. More adults have shown up, but they are still vastly outnumbered in the promenades, music stores and Old Navy by the tribes of teens.

The kids roam around in tightly defined groups of five or six, warily eyeing each other. They are concentrated most densely at the food court now, the girls sipping on diet pop, boys munching on fries. Almost every one of them brandishes a cellphone, evidence of the technological bubble in which they exist. Many keep checking the phones for coded text messages, some of which, to judge from the hilarity and waving, are from friends a few metres away.

Three girls sit primly at a round table, feasting on McDonald's food and so less likely to bolt if approached. They look identical, right down to the silhouette, the colours, the long hair, the heavy eye liner and thick makeup. One has just put down her cellphone to launch into a tirade about her boyfriend.

Perhaps they would like to offer their views on today's teens?

One responds with a withering look. "It's not a good time right now," she says dismissively. The girl just off the phone doesn't miss a beat, as though grownups are invisible. "That speech I just gave," she tells her friends, gesturing to her cell, "he didn't hear a word. He hung up on me."

To the authors of Hold On, that kids can behave this way illustrates abject failure for parenthood. But to U.S. researcher Judith Rich Harris, parenthood never had a chance -- it's been next to irrelevant all along.

Ms. Harris is the author of The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, a 1998 book whose subtitle says it all: Parents Matter Less Than You Think and Peers Matter More.

She contends that adults have no lasting effects on the personality, intelligence or mental health of their children, apart from providing the raw genetic material. In other words, it's game over at birth. All the hugs, music lessons, bedtime reading, homework homilies and walks through the park make no real difference in the long run.

The very best thing parents can do? According to Ms. Harris, it's make sure that your kids look good, because their peers will notice and that's what really matters.

Published around the world, the book was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and the 1995 research paper that first outlined her views won an award from the American Psychological Association. She has eminent defenders in the academic world (as well as many detractors) and her intention was to relieve parents of guilt. If the kids don't turn out, it's not your fault, she told them. It's either because of their genes or their friends.

But to Dr. Neufeld and Dr. Maté, this kind of advice is badly mistaken. Peers may well have lots of influence, but they shouldn't, they say. Instead, children's compass point must be their parents.

And parents, far from giving up, must do everything they can to hold on. They need to establish the hierarchy of the family and of the generations and "embed" children in it. They need to glory in their children's dependence on them, at least until the children are mature enough to go off on their own. Friends are fine. It's just that they can't be the be-all and end-all.

The duo recognize the irony in their theory. It's a U-turn from the prevailing attitudes on how to raise children. Advice from the reigning parental experts assumes children need to be pushed toward independence, urged to do for themselves, coaxed to derive their self-esteem from other kids. To help them do that, parents gobble up advice from self-help books, boning up on the latest tricks of the parenting trade.

A classic example, Dr. Maté notes, is the advice from experts to give a misbehaving child a so-called time out. He says parents do so faithfully for years, thinking it's the right thing even though it runs counter to a child's biological need to attach to the parent.

This and other means of thrusting children away, Dr. Neufeld says, are rampant but "developmentally illegitimate." Parents are running around trying to figure out what to do, when they should be re-examining who they are to their children.

Dr. Maté tells the story of what happened when his niece had a baby and took to holding the child on her belly. By the third day, the neonatal nurse had had enough, and told her to stop before she spoiled the baby.

"Try telling a monkey that," Dr. Maté says. "The fundamental thing is, we're trying to awaken people's parental intuition."

At least one expert on the childhood mind calls all this bunk.

Jean Wittenberg is head of infant psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and president of the Canadian Alliance for Children's Health Care. He also represents a middle ground of sorts, arguing passionately that parents matter, but dismissing the theory expressed in Hold On as far too simplistic and a misapplication of developmental attachment.

"It's like there is one secret or one answer to everything," he says. "Life is too complex to reduce it to one idea. There is no magic bullet."

A psychiatrist trained in attachment theory, Dr. Wittenberg describes it as just one of many key factors, along with such things as discipline, play and intimacy.

As well, he says, the Hold On theory fails to take into account the march of human development over a lifetime. A parent's job is to help a child move from the breast, to toddlerhood, to school, to summer camp, to university, to the job market, learning to cope with friends and acquaintances along the way.

"It is tremendously important for our children to be successful with their peers," Dr. Wittenberg insists. "It's very important for parents to help them. If a child is failing with his or her peers, it's misery."

In his view, a 13-year-old who seems distant from her parents is more apt to be going through a necessary struggle for independence rather than losing her attachment to her parents.

Neither does he see a dystopia looming. Roughly 20 per cent of Canadians have some psychiatric problem, and the other 80 per cent are fine, he says. Children are still growing up, remaining close to their families, having children of their own, caring for their relatives. Parents are still heavily involved with their children, as they should be. Even in the families of his young patients at the hospital, where the relationship is by definition not ideal, Dr. Wittenberg says he sees a great deal of love.

So what are parents supposed to do in these troubled times? Be there for your children in appropriate measures throughout their lives. Acknowledge that being a parent can be difficult, and try to walk in your child's shoes with what he calls a "sophisticated empathy." Understand what the child is thinking, feeling, doing, before trying to make a diagnosis.

The mall is really getting busy now. Friday is, without question, the busiest night of the week for many teens.

A boy of 5 or 6 walks by, all bundled up. His mother tugs him along at a good clip and he follows obediently. Duelling experts aside, how do you get from him to the self-absorbed tribes all around?

Unlike so many of the younger kids, Melissa Pupo, 18, and Farzana Farook, 17, have a few thoughts to offer. Both are in Grade 12 and, since their companions have wandered off for a few minutes, they politely agree to an interview, a sign, in Dr. Neufeld's analysis, that they are properly parent-oriented.

Fiddling slightly with the metal in her pierced lower lip, Ms. Pupo says she sees signs of trouble already in the Grade 4 kids she helps to teach in her co-op program: They have "attitude." If they don't get what they want, they just get mad. "Kids don't care any more about anything except their friends."

They've got no respect, Ms. Farook adds, her eyes scanning the crowd non-stop. Their parents haven't disciplined them properly; they don't respect their elders.

Ms. Pupo says she has 15 friends who already have kids, although just three of the dads are still in the picture. She knows another eight girls under 18 who are pregnant.

Both young women say they care deeply what their parents think. They confide in them. This is the secret to good family life, they say.

"I talk to my mom about everything. I can tell her everything. She knows everything there is to know," Ms. Pupo says, affection in her eyes.

A few shops away, Lynsey Ross, 16, also has a few thoughts to share, although her two friends have categorically refused to talk and stalked off in their puffy jackets. But she wants to let grownups know what she's thinking, which is: Friends are just friends. Parents are forever.

She knows because her dad died when she was 13 and she went off the rails until last year. She and her mother fought like there was no tomorrow. Finally, her mom broke through, telling Ms. Ross that she was responsible for her own life. Everything changed after that.

Her advice to worried parents? Don't give in too easily. And don't let go. Never let go.

Alanna Mitchell is a senior feature writer at The Globe and Mail.

Signs of trouble

Timing: The switch in allegiance from parents to peers can begin as early as 5, according Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, authors of Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Matter. The problem often comes to a head at 12 or 13.

Behaviour: Some signs are subtle, and others brutally obvious. When with other kids, peer-oriented children can seem animated, talkative, even demonstrative but, when a grownup approaches, refuse "even the most elementary rituals of attachment, such as eye contact, greetings and introductions."

They feel they must meld with their peers, which includes looking exactly like them.

If such children come to visit, they will appear uncomfortable, answer in mumbling monosyllables, and try to herd your children away from you. On the phone, they will refuse to identify themselves or to greet you by name.

Rejection: Disengaged children spurn any notion that they resemble their parents. They will go out of their way to take an opposing point of view and embrace different preferences, opinions and judgments. "If these children could, they would walk on the opposite side of the street in a contrary direction," the authors write.

Results: Such children make a parent's life difficult. They are hard to teach, aggressive and disobedient. Not caring what grownups think, they are immune to most forms of punishment.

Parents can find themselves feeling acutely rejected, if not crushed, neglected and even outright angry at being emotionally rebuffed.

What parents can do

Be aware: The most important thing is to understand the theory of attachment and recognize when it has gone wrong, Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté say. Most often, it's not that a child is behaving badly, but that the relationship with the parent has been ruptured and replaced with a dependence on peers.

Be wary: For example, the authors don't suggest abandoning daycare although they contend the "seeds of peer-orientation" are sown there. Instead, parents with kids in daycare may want to take extra care to nurture their attachment with them.

Control access: One specific suggestion, Dr. Neufeld says, is to keep your children's peers "out of their face." For example, don't automatically turn to peers as a cure for boredom. Don't encourage a child to gain self-esteem from them. Try to make sure that he or she is exposed to adults and learns to interact with them at social gatherings, rather than being with other kids all the time.

Be bold: If the attachment is lost, don't give up. It can be revived. "In may ways, peer orientation is like a cult, and the challenges of reclaiming children are much the same as if we were facing the seductions of a cult," the authors write. "The real challenge is to win back their hearts and their minds, not just have their bodies under our roof and at our table."

Be assertive: Once you realize what has happened, you can train yourself to put your attachment with your child first and to reinforce it every day. Then it's a question of relying on your natural parenting instincts. "What we're really saying is that you don't need us, you don't need experts. You'll know what to do. Nature will tell you," Dr. Maté says.

Radical surgery: In extreme cases, one suggestion is to separate the child from the peers so that he or she, faced with an intolerable void, reattaches to the parent. But be cautious. "It is important not to reveal one's agenda, as this can easily backfire."

Meet the authors: Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté are scheduled to appear Feb. 9 at Alumni Hall as part of the University of Toronto Reading Series. Four days later, Dr. Maté will be in Peterborough, Ont., for an appearance at Showplace Peterborough.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: aberrant; children; disorders; peers; publicschool; teens
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1 posted on 01/31/2004 3:47:31 PM PST by mark_interrupted
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To: mark_interrupted
As a preface to this post, I'm going to say a little about myself. I'm a 17 year old male, in grade 12. I'm living in a Canadian border town of about 250 to 300 thousand people. I live with my dad, my sister with my mom. I am a member of my local Air Cadet squadron (similar to the Civil Air Patrol, except we are *officially* a civilian organization, if you want to know more PM me) through which I achieved both my Glider Pilot and Private Pilot licenses.

Before I talk about this particular group at school, let me start by saying that my school is considered the "brainy" school in the city. We have the only "enriched" or "gifted" program in the city and I take "enriched" classes. The school has a disproportionately large group of Middle Eastern students, as well as a disproportionately large group of Asian students. I would guess the population at about 30% from the Middle East, 30% from the Far East, and 30% of European descent. This may help to explain my comments below.

They look identical, right down to the silhouette, the colours, the long hair, the heavy eye liner and thick makeup.

And that's the root of the problem isn't it? They look identical, they feel identical, they're fake. Of the 30% of the students at my school of "European" descent I would say a good third to half fall into this category. They cause me the most grief. I look at them and think about how they can lie to themselves like that. Of course this group also includes the requisite "jocks" who share the same sort of qualities. For anyone here who still watches mainstream media, these are the kind of people you see depicted on MTV...completely self-absorbed and oblivious to anything but themselves.

Fiddling slightly with the metal in her pierced lower lip

This is another group that I just don't get, they make up another quarter of the 30%. Why? I just don't understand the whole self-mutilation thing.

The final part of the 30% are people like me. Well, and you may call me a hypocrite for saying this, they're not like me. There is no one I know quite like me. Most of the people that I know and associate with are sheep. They go with the herd, no matter what.

A very good friend of mine has constantly egged me on to have "just one beer" (yes, I know, underage drinking...) when I'm driving. I always refuse, I've got too much to lose. Every time we're out, he asks me, "Please, just have one beer." I politely refuse the first time, but if he continues I get quite hostile, he only has his beginner's permit, but has stated that he will have "just one beer" when he gets his license. And I have said that I won't ever drive with him. I tell him to his face that he is irresponsible, but he doesn't care. And that's fine. To each his own, but I'd like to think that I have at least one thread of moral fiber left.

My friend is typical of today's teens. I am not. He follows the crowd, but says he doesn't. He dresses, acts, and all around is like them. I have bigger plans.

Sorry about the rant...but this is one of the few topics I can speak from experience on. Phew, this was by far my longest post ever on FR.

2 posted on 01/31/2004 4:32:04 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: mark_interrupted
bookmarked
3 posted on 01/31/2004 4:47:39 PM PST by Lil'freeper (By all that we hold dear on this good Earth I bid you stand, men of the West!)
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To: AntiKev
The idea seems logical, but if it were really the cause of the problem, why hasn't it always been that way? Why didn't the kids of past generations murder, plunder, and pierce everything that they could reach? It's not their peers, in my opinion, it's their total lack of respect for their parents, for authority, and for God. How did that happen? The school agenda of today is not to teach morals, right from wrong, respect for authority, and certainly not anything about God. Kids are encouraged to "be themselves". They aren't pushed to excellence or disciplined for fear that their "self esteem" might be damaged. In your case, I would suspect that you have a good family that has seen to it that you had a good foundation so that you'd grow to be a fine and responsible man. Sounds to me as if they were successful.
4 posted on 01/31/2004 4:49:42 PM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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To: mark_interrupted
And they certainly feel no obligation to explain themselves to an adult in a shopping mall.

I feel no obligation to explain myself to adults either. How about an obligation to leave other people alone or let kids be kids?

5 posted on 01/31/2004 4:50:14 PM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: Jaysun
Why didn't the kids of past generations murder, plunder, and pierce everything that they could reach?

Who says the kids of today are? FBI stats indicate that juvenile violence is at a twenty-year low. I think kids are somewhat more independent of parents (cars, urbanization, mass transit, etc) and have a greater space to experiment with different things but overall this image of the youth out of control is more fearmongering by the usual powerhungry sources.

6 posted on 01/31/2004 4:53:42 PM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: AntiKev
Glider pilot huh, kewl.
Welcome to FR.
Remember to proofread your posts and don't pay too much attention to anyone that "flames" you.
7 posted on 01/31/2004 4:54:23 PM PST by tet68
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To: AntiKev
There is no one I know quite like me. Most of the people that I know and associate with are sheep.

Thus has it ever been, AK - I felt the same way about my high school peers a few decades ago. Maintain that autonomy, and never let the "flock" make your choices for you!

8 posted on 01/31/2004 4:55:02 PM PST by mountaineer
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To: Jaysun
Why didn't the kids of past generations murder, plunder, and pierce everything that they could reach?

Short answer, and I think I stated it in my first post, is that they're sheep.

Long answer, and I've had this discussion with someone in my family, probably my mom, is that some people can't differentiate between the virtual world and the real world. Example, television violence, most people my age watch lots of TV. Most watch stuff that's basically mind-numbing. I like shows that have some sort of plot (except the Simpsons, hold that thought for a second). I watch Law & Order, CSI, and NYPD Blue on a regular basis. Basically the only other shows I watch are on Discovery Wings channel or the Discovery Channel (gotta have the gearheads of Monster Garage and American Chopper). See...now I've gone off on a tangent and lost my train of thought.

The point is, many people my age watch violence on TV or play so-called violent video games and can't differentiate it from the real world. That's where we get the fringe groups like Columbine et al. They see it and they absorb it as if it's real, and althought they may know it's not real, their brain can't differentiate it from anything else because they don't think about it.

I agree that a majority of people my age show no respect to their elders. Another example of a kid I went to grade school with. We have the best math teacher, probably in the country, and we're his last class. My friend continually comes in late to class, and when our teacher tells him that he has a ten minute detention at lunch he says something to me like "I don't see why he's so stupid." I have to try to keep from staring at him wide-eyed and saying "are you really dumb as a post?"

This teacher teaches both Calculus and Algebra, at the "enriched" level, two classes of each. He has a policy that if you have a spare during the other class of that math you can go to either your scheduled class or the other one, as long as you go to one. My friend decided that he wanted to have a double spare in the morning and so he told the teacher that he would be going to the afternoon algebra class from now on. The second day of that he skipped both classes and the teacher stated to our class that he won't play that game, and continued to mark the student absent. I told my friend about it and he said "I told him that I was going to the other class, why is he so dumb?"

Complete lack of respect for our elders. Check. It's sad, it really is.

9 posted on 01/31/2004 5:07:57 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: garbanzo
Who says the kids of today are? FBI stats indicate that juvenile violence is at a twenty-year low. I think kids are somewhat more independent of parents (cars, urbanization, mass transit, etc) and have a greater space to experiment with different things but overall this image of the youth out of control is more fearmongering by the usual powerhungry sources.

"Youth violence has been one of the greatest single crime problems we face in this country," said Attorney General Janet Reno. September 6, 2000
http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel00/school.htm

Victimization in the nation’s schools has decreased since 1992, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2001 reports that, between 1992 and 1999, violent victimization rates at schools generally declined from 48 crimes per 1,000 students ages 12 through 18 to 33 per 1,000 students. Data also indicates that, between 1995 and 1999, the percentage of students who said they were the victims of any crime of violence or theft at school decreased from 10 to 8 percent.

During 1999, students were victims of about 2.5 million crimes at school, 1.6 million thefts, and 880,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including about 186,000 serious violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault). In comparison, students were victims of 2.1 million crimes away from school: 1 million thefts and 1.1 million nonfatal violent crimes, including 476,000 serious violent crimes.

Over the 1995-1999 period, teachers were the victims of 1,708,000 nonfatal crimes at school, including 1,073,000 thefts and 635,000 violent crimes. On a per teacher basis, this translates to 79 crimes per 1,000 teachers annually.
http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2002/mar02leb.htm


Does that look peachy to you? Who are the "usual powerhungry sources" that you mentioned?
10 posted on 01/31/2004 5:09:19 PM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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To: tet68
Welcome to FR.

Thanks. :D...check my profile though. Been around since mid 2000. Actually earlier, but my account was deleted for some reason early on and I re-registered.

11 posted on 01/31/2004 5:09:31 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: mountaineer
Maintain that autonomy, and never let the "flock" make your choices for you!

That's the idea.

12 posted on 01/31/2004 5:13:04 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: mark_interrupted
Nothing very new in teenagers hanging around together, although the degree of conformity increased after the 60s, probably. And it's even more noticeable when they are trying to be nonconformist conformists.

If some adult came up to me when I was a teenager and started asking me psychological questions, I'd have told him to get lost, too. Or, as Flannery O'Connor would have said, "None of your bidness."
13 posted on 01/31/2004 5:31:25 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Jaysun
Does that look peachy to you?

As compared to what - the Garden of Eden? I only claimed that violence is today low relative to near history (at least in the past 10 not twenty years). There was never an ideal time and in a country of 300 million people you're going to get some bad eggs.

Who are the "usual powerhungry sources" that you mentioned?

Typically people who misuse statistics to increase their power and authority to solve non-existent problems.

14 posted on 01/31/2004 5:32:34 PM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: garbanzo
As compared to what - the Garden of Eden? I only claimed that violence is today low relative to near history (at least in the past 10 not twenty years). There was never an ideal time and in a country of 300 million people you're going to get some bad eggs.

As compared to the time before the NEA. As compared to the time when teachers taught subjects and not liberalism and self esteem. As compared to the time before "free education".

Typically people who misuse statistics to increase their power and authority to solve non-existent problems.

I can't think of who has tried to do that in the area of youth violence. There is a noticable difference between tennagers of today and the teenagers of 15 years ago. They haven't been on an improvement trend in a host of areas.
15 posted on 01/31/2004 5:47:41 PM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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To: Jaysun
As compared to the time before the NEA.

And the evidence for this is?

There is a noticable difference between tennagers of today and the teenagers of 15 years ago.

Except in terms of fashion, I disagree. Kids are pretty much the same as they always were. Wally Cleaver was a fictional character not a realistic depiction of how teenagers used to behave.

16 posted on 01/31/2004 5:56:24 PM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: mark_interrupted
"In other words, it's game over at birth. All the hugs, music lessons, bedtime reading, homework homilies and walks through the park make no real difference in the long run."

Hogwash.

17 posted on 01/31/2004 6:03:42 PM PST by sweetliberty (To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.")
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To: AntiKev
You go on with your good self! Your peers need apologies far more than you, it would seem....
18 posted on 01/31/2004 6:05:17 PM PST by BiffWondercat
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To: AntiKev
You are to be commended for your independence. Don't ever apologize for it. It sounds like you have your head screwed on better than many people twice your age and you will be better off for it.
19 posted on 01/31/2004 6:08:50 PM PST by sweetliberty (To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.")
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To: mark_interrupted
ALANNA MITCHELL does not handle rejection very well.
20 posted on 01/31/2004 6:14:50 PM PST by Jeff Gordon (arabed - verb: lower in esteem; hurt the pride of [syn: mortify, chagrin, humble, abase, humiliate])
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To: AntiKev; My Favorite Headache
Since you are from Canada, I have to ask: Do you listen to Rush? (the band, not the talk show host)

If not, you need to go get all their albums right now, because any kid that grows up NOT listening to Rush, will be a wacko.
21 posted on 01/31/2004 6:28:42 PM PST by spodefly (This is my tagline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: spodefly
The only Rush song I've heard is YYZ. Interesting side note, the cymbal intro to that song is the morse-code identifier heard on the Toronto (CYYZ) VHF Omni-Range Beacon (VOR). :D
22 posted on 01/31/2004 6:32:33 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: mark_interrupted
"According to Dr. Neufeld, teens who are peer-oriented dress alike and reject contact with adults." "Their obsession with their friends and acquaintances supplants any real interest in adults to the point that they are emotionally detached even from their parents."

Like this is something new? Not!

23 posted on 01/31/2004 6:38:43 PM PST by fightu4it (conquest by immigration and subversion spells the end of US.)
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To: AntiKev
You sound somewhat like a 17 year old spodefly (which should scare the hell out of you, by the way.) I was a pilot at 17, and didn't fit into any of the cliques in school, although strangely enough, I was an accepted member of most all of them.

Re: Rush & YYZ, I did know about the morse identifier for YYZ. I learned morse code when I was a teenager to get my novice amatuer radio license. My dad was in the Army Security Agency (329CRC) during Korea working with SigInt, traffic analysis, etc. He, to this day, can read morse at incredible speed, even after staying away from it for 30 years or so. When I was practicing for my General Amatuer ticket around 10 years ago, I had a computer program that would play back morse at varying speeds. I was practicing trying to get up to 12wpm. He heard the morse at the fastest speed the computer would play it back, maybe 22 wpm, and didn't miss a letter.

Anyway, you owe it to yourself as a Canadian and as a unique youngster, to check more into Rush. They are among the best bands ever in rock music, and as far as I am concerned, Canada's finest export ... :)
24 posted on 01/31/2004 6:47:28 PM PST by spodefly (This is my tagline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: AntiKev
My friend is typical of today's teens. I am not. He follows the crowd, but says he doesn't. He dresses, acts, and all around is like them. I have bigger plans.

Good for you. There was a Ziggy cartoon years ago... Ziggy is in a crowd of people all walking one direction, and he is walking the other way, saying "I wish I was a non-conformist like everybody else."

People like your friend like to think they are rebelling or expressing their individuality -- or something along those lines -- when, in fact, they are the most unimaginative, conventional, unoriginal, sheep-like people in the world, ruled only by their fear of what other people will think of them.

25 posted on 01/31/2004 6:50:02 PM PST by Sloth (It doesn't take 60 seats to control the Senate; it only takes 102 testicles.)
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To: mark_interrupted
Hey, people are actually starting to notice this?

And yet...these are more than likely the same people who are spooked by homeschooled kids actually TALKING to adults, and even preferring their company to that of "peers" who resemble the teens in this story - THEY are the kids who TRULY socially disturbed, don't ya know.
26 posted on 01/31/2004 6:53:59 PM PST by RosieCotton
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To: spodefly; Sloth; All
Thanks for the encouraging words everyone.
27 posted on 01/31/2004 6:56:18 PM PST by AntiKev (I've learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Why can't THEY?)
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To: garbanzo
And the evidence for this is? Except in terms of fashion, I disagree. Kids are pretty much the same as they always were. Wally Cleaver was a fictional character not a realistic depiction of how teenagers used to behave.

Note the chart's 1960 data point and the trend thereafter. With this in mind, think of this: "Since 1962, when teachers were first allowed to unionize, the public school system has been a system that benefits and answers to the producers of education, not to the consumers. 88% of America's schools are government schools, and 75% of the teachers are union members." John Fund, Editorial Board Wall Street Journal, May 1998 Imprimis volume 27, #5.

"More than 40% of American 10-year-olds cannot pass a basic reading test (although still they are 'socially' promoted), and as many as 42 million adults are functionally illiterate. 'The Economist' (January 22, 1999, pg. 55).

The Third International Math & Science series showed that U.S. 12th graders scored behind every nation, except Cyprus and South Africa? Even comparing our elite to the elite students of other nations, Americans were near the bottom. In Physics we were at the very bottom. Or, the December 2000 report that our 8th graders scored behind 27 other nations, again. International Math & Science Test.

How about grammar school? Were you surprised in April 2001 with this: 'Two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders read below grade level and the weakest ones are falling further behind', according to the U.S. Education Department's reading ''Report Card'' released on 6 April 2001. Students reading at a proficient or advanced level from private schools performed 57% better than public schools.

The April 2001 OECD report stated "60% of Americans aged 16-25 are 'functionally illiterate', meaning that when it came to, say, filling in a form they were stumped - - and that on the simple numerical (reading a timetable, etc.) test they scored at the bottom of all industrial nations." - The Economist, 14 July 2001, pg. 84

``The quality of schooling is far worse today than it was in 1955,'' according to Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate wrote in the Washington Post last year.

Someone really is after us... The NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because of our political power and effectiveness at all levels -- because we have the ability to help implement the type of liberal social and economic agenda that they find unacceptable."
--Robert H. Chanin, National Education Association general counsel (currently)

"The schools cannot allow parents to influence the kind of values-education their children receive in school; that is what is wrong with those who say there is a universal system of values. Our (humanistic) goals are incompatible with theirs. We must change their values."
--Paul Haubner, specialist for the N.E.A.

Since 1960, the U.S. population has increased 41%; the gross domestic product has nearly tripled; and total social spending by all levels of government (measured in constant 1990 dollars) has risen from $143.73 billion to $787 billion--more than a fivefold increase. Inflation-adjusted spending on welfare has increased by 630%, spending on education by 225%.
But during the same 30-year period there has been a 560% increase in violent crime, a 419% increase in illegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200% increase in the teenage suicide rate; and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores.
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/usadecline.html#table

I'd say that these kids are indeed a bit different.

28 posted on 01/31/2004 7:30:08 PM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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To: Jaysun
Ah...changing the topic - this was about youth behavior - specifically the notion that American youth have gone feral which is unevidenced. I'll agree with you that it's perfectly obvious that American youth are poorly educated but that wasn't the subject.
29 posted on 01/31/2004 9:37:51 PM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: mark_interrupted
For thousands and thousands of years, the human has raised their children and no big deal. Kids were born, grew up and finally left the nest.

Ever since Dr. Spock, every Tom, Dick and Harry claims to be an expert on raising kids and we are hit from all directions by contradictory advice.

It's time for parents to burn the books and magazines, talk to their own parents about raising kids and listen to their own guts.

30 posted on 01/31/2004 9:43:22 PM PST by 3catsanadog (When anything goes, everything does.)
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To: garbanzo
Ah...changing the topic - this was about youth behavior - specifically the notion that American youth have gone feral which is unevidenced. I'll agree with you that it's perfectly obvious that American youth are poorly educated but that wasn't the subject.

What? I didn't change the subject. The educational references were shown along with NEA information and crime statistics. Furthermore, it wasn't JUST about youth behavior. I said that, "They haven't been on an improvement trend in a host of areas." in post 15. I said that because you made the comment that, "Except in terms of fashion, I disagree. Kids are pretty much the same as they always were. Wally Cleaver was a fictional character not a realistic depiction of how teenagers used to behave." Nevertheless, the following previous examples are what I'd consider reasonable evidence that their behavior has become significantly worse:

*During 1999, students were victims of about 2.5 million crimes at school, 1.6 million thefts, and 880,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including about 186,000 serious violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault). In comparison, students were victims of 2.1 million crimes away from school: 1 million thefts and 1.1 million nonfatal violent crimes, including 476,000 serious violent crimes.

*Over the 1995-1999 period, teachers were the victims of 1,708,000 nonfatal crimes at school, including 1,073,000 thefts and 635,000 violent crimes. On a per teacher basis, this translates to 79 crimes per 1,000 teachers annually.

*But during the same 30-year period there has been a 560% increase in violent crime, a 419% increase in illegitimate births

*more than a 200% increase in the teenage suicide rate

Were there school shootings, rampant pregnancies and illegitimate births, widespread illiteracy, or violence against teachers back when you went to school? There wasn't when I was in school. It's changed. For the worse. I don't know why you're so insistent on denying what is so obvious. I'm doing my best to answer your questions. If this still doesn't satisfy you let me know.
31 posted on 01/31/2004 10:22:39 PM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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To: mark_interrupted
In fact, they despise grownups and often shun them. They have no stake in pleasing them any more because their emotional compass has switched from their parents to their friends. They're almost impossible to nurture or teach.

And here we have the real problem with today's schools.

32 posted on 02/01/2004 4:53:31 AM PST by independentmind
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To: mark_interrupted
Thanks for posting this article. Bookmarked.
33 posted on 02/01/2004 5:01:44 AM PST by independentmind
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To: 3catsanadog
It's time for parents to burn the books and magazines, talk to their own parents about raising kids and listen to their own guts.

I agree wth you there...now with an 8yr old son, and a 2yr old daughter, I've been finding myself to more like my dad. Which when I was younger...I thought was a bad thing *L* god bless him
34 posted on 02/01/2004 5:13:08 AM PST by Bottom_Gun (Crush depth dummy)
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To: Jaysun
Were there school shootings, rampant pregnancies and illegitimate births, widespread illiteracy, or violence against teachers back when you went to school?

Depends on the time frame, I went to school in the 80s. Teenage pregnancy was not uncommon in the 1950s - you just didn't hear about it as much. And as for violence - the stat you cite is only reporting victims of crime. There is no word on how many perps. To give an example if one kid commits 100 crimes a year against 100 students, it shows up as 100 crimes, not one hundred criminals.

While it's an article of faith among people that things are just getting worse and worse, it really isn't born out by much reasonable evidence. What I'm responding to is the notion not that there are no social concerns, but rather that somehow or another today's teens are vastly more violent and out of control than compared to historical norms, as you suggested by implying that today's teens will steal anything that isn't bolted down.

35 posted on 02/01/2004 7:21:05 AM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: garbanzo
Depends on the time frame, I went to school in the 80s. Teenage pregnancy was not uncommon in the 1950s - you just didn't hear about it as much.

It wasn't as common --- but a couple of generations ago kids expected to be married at age 18 to 21. As a society, we've probably delayed the age of marriage far beyond what biology would have it as.

36 posted on 02/01/2004 7:28:13 AM PST by FITZ
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To: FITZ
It wasn't as common --- but a couple of generations ago kids expected to be married at age 18 to 21.

Well a lot of these marriages were, shall we say, uh...rushed, which I think is a big change from that era to this, the expectation that knocking a woman up meant you had to marry her.

37 posted on 02/01/2004 7:33:49 AM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: AntiKev
I achieved both my Glider Pilot and Private Pilot licenses.

This is an important point. You have achieved a position of trust and responsibility that can only be obtained by following rules and procedures set by adults. It was important enough to you to gain the respect of these adults to gain skills and follow rules. Just "wanting" this is not enough. Therefore, you have come to realize the value of earning the respect of adults, whereas many of your contemporaries (I won't say peers) probably think respect should be given to them.

For me it was shooting. I wanted to shoot, and be trusted with firearms. To do this I had to demonstrate to adults that I could be trusted with them. It was vitally important to me as a boy to gain entry into the "grown up" world. I could have cared less what my "peers" thought.

38 posted on 02/01/2004 7:39:47 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Come see the violence inherent in the system!)
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To: garbanzo
Yes --- my grandfather told me that's the way it was when he grew up --- "biology" has always happened but in the past men were raised to be responsible and stay and help raise their children, marrying when a baby was on the way was common and those marriages lasted.
39 posted on 02/01/2004 7:40:54 AM PST by FITZ
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To: independentmind
That caught my attention also. I've been completely baffled at my 16 yr old son's behaviors, especially school related. This article presents some ideas I hadn't considered that deserve much thought.
40 posted on 02/01/2004 7:47:23 AM PST by I_dmc
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To: mark_interrupted
BIG BUMP!

I didn't realize that there was a clinical name for this phenomenon. It has always existed to some degree, among what used to be called "losers". Now it seems to be a substantial percentage of the total.

41 posted on 02/01/2004 7:56:16 AM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: garbanzo
I feel no obligation to explain myself to adults either. How about an obligation to leave other people alone or let kids be kids?

:::: whizzing sound of an unknown object going by rapidly over a person's head ::::

42 posted on 02/01/2004 8:08:42 AM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: mark_interrupted
Their obsession with their friends and acquaintances supplants any real interest in adults to the point that they are emotionally detached even from their parents.

Some of this is just natural ---at age 15 or 16 kids start thinking about being adults, leaving their parents. They have to think they're rebelling but a lot of times, they're just doing exactly what they're parents are doing. How many of the parents showed by example it's very important to impress your peers --- driving cars they couldn't afford, living in upscale houses and trying to keep up or stay ahead of the neighbors?

43 posted on 02/01/2004 8:10:47 AM PST by FITZ
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To: FITZ
How many of the parents showed by example it's very important to impress your peers --- driving cars they couldn't afford, living in upscale houses and trying to keep up or stay ahead of the neighbors?

That's just another symptom of the malady: 35-year-olds arrested at the 8-year emotional level.

44 posted on 02/01/2004 8:14:30 AM PST by Publius6961 (40% of Californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: Publius6961
If some stranger came up to me when I was teenager and demanded my time for his project, I'd might be slightly rude to him. The kids here were under no obligation to cooperate with some strange guy asking them questions.
45 posted on 02/01/2004 9:19:30 AM PST by garbanzo (Free people will set the course of history)
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To: garbanzo
What I'm responding to is the notion not that there are no social concerns, but rather that somehow or another today's teens are vastly more violent and out of control than compared to historical norms, as you suggested by implying that today's teens will steal anything that isn't bolted down.

OK. Here's a chart from the US Department of Justice - Bureau of Justice Statistics. I included a link at the top of the chart so that you can go see this one and others if you'd like. The numbers represent the total number of arrest per 100,000 population (to adjust for population growth). The total number has been climbing since 1970 on this chart. Even though it went down in 1999, it's still a 50% increase over 1970. The same holds true from 1960. The rates were relatively normal from year to year before that. I'm having trouble "uploading" the other chart, but will do so if I can. If this doesn't make you reconsider, nothing else will.


46 posted on 02/01/2004 11:56:07 AM PST by Jaysun (Don't Sweat the Petty Stuff, and Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff.)
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: Lil'freeper
I try to provide stimulating topics of conversation.
48 posted on 02/01/2004 10:06:37 PM PST by mark_interrupted
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To: sweetliberty
I agree with your sentiment.
49 posted on 02/01/2004 10:10:41 PM PST by mark_interrupted
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To: fightu4it
What is new is that there is now a greatly decreased parental counter weight...Bonding with peers is a part of growing up, but this is an extreme situation. I have concluded that it is a response to the latchkey kid phenomenon where kids grewup without parental oversite. Those kids grew into the teenagers that are discussed in the article.
50 posted on 02/01/2004 10:15:43 PM PST by mark_interrupted
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