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Youth Gone Wild or Parents MIA?

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Is it my imagination, or are our young teens just out of control?

teens partying and drinking

Dr. Janet Taylor: From a recent brutal teenage rampage over being dissed by text to young teens who send nude pics to their boyfriends and girlfriends without batting an eye .... Memo to teenville: Both are punishable under the law.

Are today's young teens more violent, or just mean and less empathic? More importantly, are too many parents acting like friends and relegating their authority?

When I was growing up, I remember an impressive commercial that showed a huge clock -- punctuated by a ringing bell -- while a deep, authoritative voice boomed, "It is nine o'clock. Do you know where your kids are?"

Today, the message may be different. Being aware of their kids' location is the least of many parents' worries. The question may be, "What the hell are your kids doing?"

For too many youth, their activities may involve violence, bullying, fighting or just flat-out terrorizing innocent victims. The CDC reports that the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24 is youth violence. Youth violence accounted for 631,000 emergency visits in 2007. Almost 36 percent of high-school students reported being in a physical fight in 2008.

A recent incident in Philadelphia underscored the fact that the violence is not just youth-against-youth.

What's going on?

Risk factors for youth violence are drug and alcohol abuse, exposure to violence, associating with other troubled peers and the three P's: poor family functioning, poor grades and poverty in the community.

Clearly, most of the youth in a "Catch and Wreck" crew would fit the above criteria. In fact, a closer examination would probably illustrate that these kids were victims themselves. I mean, a pregnant 12-year-old qualifies as a victim of sexual abuse and warrants investigation.

The teens in Philadelphia need to be held accountable for their actions. And so do their parents.

Our kids need love, consequences and discipline that is instructive, not destructive. Compassion in our youth comes from being raised with love, not contempt -- and hope, not hatred.

Let's work as parents to undo the cycle of youth violence. Our kids need to live and learn without fear -- in the spirit of helping, not hurting, others.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Wendi March 24, 2010, 12:20 PM

I keep a very close eye on my kids. They are held accountable for their actions. I think to many parents are not there for thier kids at all. I see it with my kids’ middle school. Hardly any parents with participate in anything. It makes me so sad. I know parents have to work, but that is no excuse to not parent your child, nor should it be an excuse to feel bad and then feel like you have to be a friend rather than a parent. I also believe that when you are the friend to your child, they will not fear you, and a small amount of fear is a good thing. You want your child to make the right choice for fear of getting in trouble. They can learn from this and in turn learn to obey the law as well. Just my thoughts.

Leah March 25, 2010, 4:50 AM

Kids are only as out of control as their parents allow them to be. I agree with Wendi - a small amount of fear is a good thing.

My husband and I both have to work full time, but we are still very involved with our children, so working isn’t an excuse for letting kids run wild.

As for the teens in Philly mentioned in the article. This is my area and these kids aren’t “kids” they were 16-20 years old (many older) that’s past the age where parents are responsible - those adults just need to be in jail.

Robinson May 21, 2011, 6:55 AM

AKAIK you’ve got the asnwer in one!

Maggie May 22, 2011, 10:08 AM

At last, someone comes up with the “right” asnewr!

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