Is it my imagination, or are our young teens just out of control?
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.
|Dr. Janet Taylor is an Adult Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Chelsea (NYC). A consumer health strategist and certified life coach, her company, Mind Projects, Inc., specializes in corporate stress management and multicultural health strategies. Dr. Taylor has a column, "Ask Dr. Janet," in Family Circle magazine and is a frequent expert on national television. She lives with her husband and four daughters in Chappaqua, N.Y.|