Teenagers, 2013

 Child Trends, a research group headed by David Murphey published some statistics concerning high school graduates , 2013.  The Op Ed author, Charles M. Blow expressed concern over the numbers in each category of the 100 high school seniors used in the survey.  Blow did not explain how the statistics were gathered.  Because of the categories which included “having been bullied, physically or emotionally”, this reader infers that most of the data was compiled through questionnaires to which the teenagers themselves were the respondents. Other forms of data gathering may have been used for such categories as “live in poverty”. See New York Times, June 15, 2013 for more complete analysis.)

As I read the piece questions formed in my mind.  For example, how many of the categories fit the nomenclature of society today?  How many teenagers in the forties or fifties would have answered the same for such questions as “feelings of depression” or “thought of suicide”?  How many responses were influenced by media bombardment of such words as physical assault, bullied, or victimized sexually? 

Blow infers that the high numbers in certain categories indicate that measures in childhood well-being in the United States have contributed to the nation’s stagnation.  Stagnation in what, is unclear to this reader.  He advocates for more attention by society to the plight of families by practicing policies that eliminate poverty, provide child care leave, provide early childhood education, allow sexual education, allow open access to a full range of sexual options. Blow also advocates for the United States to ratify the 1989 UN resolution “The Rights of a Child”.  He deplores the fact that the by not ratifying the resolution, the US is in the company of such a country as Somalia.  My question is: How much better are the conditions in which children live in the countries that did ratify the resolution?

Mr. Blow is right to be concerned about our cultural indifference to the social, emotional and psychological, not to mention spiritual (or lack of spiritual) milieu in which US children fail to reach their potential today.  However his answers to this problem are superficial, naive and lacking in historical perspective.

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