We all, for the most part, remember our childhoods vividly. The days when juice boxes and fruit roll ups were in close proximity—when you made candy the entree and the actual dinner an optional appetizer. You could have the greatest time just being on the grass without any accompanying objects; the world was your oyster. These were your most precious days because of the lack of responsibility, the novelty of life, and our adventurous mind-states. However, with all the buffoonery that took place, you always knew where to draw the line. There was play time, school time (sometimes the two overlapped), and most importantly–reverence for the elders around you.
I distinctly became cognizant of these important values through my parents, and through the visceral feeling of doing the right thing. That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of defiant children around me who simply never listened and who remained wayward no matter how much verbal criticism or abuse they received. It’s relatively easy to follow suit with your contemporaries. Those children can be labeled as “bad seeds” and such, but I think there’s much more to it, psychologically and genetically. But now: today, apathy reigns and it seems as if kids, namely teenagers, represent a hodgepodge of nefarious morals. Nipping this slippery slope in the bud will keep our planet secure and I don’t think the contributing factors are hard to figure out.
From the so-called “knockout game”—in which assailants secretly walk up to innocent pedestrians and knock them out cold– to guys and girls fist-fighting each other, society’s decorum is waning faster than ever. Put it this way: The “knockout game” is the highest form of cowardice ever demonstrated on this planet. Wait, hold up, let me reiterate: The knockout game is the highest form of cowardice EVER demonstrated on this planet. In the 21st century, cold-cocking someone who isn’t consciously aware that it’s going to happen trespasses on the lawn of fairness, bravery, justice, moxie, and rightfulness. This game is unconscionable; this behavior cannot be tolerated at any level. The fact that adolescent teenagers find humor and pleasure in this is beyond me. It seems to be a microcosm of the mentality kids possess these days in America: “Who can one-up who?” I find it utterly deplorable and downright inexcusable to hit another innocent human being for the sake of gaining “cool points” or fulfilling some gang-related initiative.
Personally, I think social media exacerbates immaturity. Think about it– kids want to impress their so-called friends, so they do the most outlandish things. The correlation between funny and immature has always been a strong one. Now that Vine, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are available to anyone, people gain notoriety by performing such inappropriate histrionics. Many people adapt these technologies for mature uses that don’t contain any vulgarity, but this seems less widespread in adolescent youngsters right now. I get that kids will be kids because they’re just experiencing life by witnessing their mistakes and improving on their foibles at a slower rate than, say, a mature adult person. But, these same kids are our future, and reproaching them for wrong behavior should be encouraged. The lack of discipline and respect trickles down and has a chain reaction effect that is viral; that is, it makes other kids want to partake in these activities in order to become popular. It produces a snowball effect–when a snowball rolls down the hill and gains mass, it becomes harder to stop. Let’s not let this be the case for our young adults.
Now, who’s to blame? Of course it can’t be the kids, I mean, they’re just kids, right? Yes, indeed, kids only bear the burden of some of the culpability. Blaming teachers would be ill-conceived; you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The root of the problem lies within the parents. Kids are by-products of their parents. Whatever traits you and your spouse inherit, your offspring will probably have some of that DNA along with variations depending on the presence of dominant or recessive genes. That’s half the battle, and the other half seems to be losing its grip on our civilization: strong family values. Instilling probity in a kid’s mind at an early age and leading by example is crucial to molding their mind. Apathy also seems to resonate in parents; this paltry level of care is corrosive. I understand that broken families and an overabundance of children produces a cascade of pressure and responsibility, but it’s incumbent upon you–the bearer of the child– to take accountability, and if you can’t, simply do not have kids. Obviously that’s easier said than done, but it’s time to wake up. It’s the year 2014. Parents who neglect and abuse their children literally make them defective. This impedes the child’s development and also causes resentment. We now know, scientifically, that a small dose of spanking is okay, but relentlessly abusing your kids can lead to psychological problems and trust issues within your kin. There are numerous, alternative ways to discipline a kid that won’t eventually come back to haunt you. Just remember: violence engenders violence. Those kids who have no parents and deflect all of the societal temptations deserve major kudos and should be revered in every sense of the word.
Though my tirade seems negative, it is only trying to prevent this adolescent complication from spiraling out of control. Moreover, I’m optimistic that we’ll start taking heed and recognizing that the absurdity of our actions ultimately reflects our own character. A recent survey by Joseph C. Blader Ph.D., of Stony Brook University, evaluated data from 1996-2007 from the National Hospital Discharge showed that psychiatric hospitalization rates have increased for children ages 5 to 12, rising from 155 per 100,000 children in 1996 to 283 per 100,000 children in 2007. A slow and steady increase in disorders will continue to grow exponentially, so making sure your son or daughters’ mental health is intact could be essential for knowing why he or she acts the way they do. I stand by the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Our kids are a distorted snapshot of what the future holds for us today. And if we want to change our future, we need that photo to come into clearer focus.