Would greater scrutiny of teen behavior prevent asocial behaviors and resulting trauma?
High profile reports of teens engaging in risky, even criminal behavior, cause alarm as incidences seem to be increasing if not in quantity, in intensity. The studies are already written, patterns of antisocial behaviors are already identified. Teens are using violence to settle their issues, drugs to enhance everything from mood, to success, to stamina, to sexual prowess. Technological socialization diverts their attention while in an academic setting, and driving.
As the educational community has tried to reduce competition to increase a sense of success among all students, students are creating their own competition in extreme behaviors such as fight clubs, or engaging in daring and dangerous stunts. Bullying has gone cyber viral and criminally violent as bullies no longer have to face their victims, but may garner public complicity of their bullying from the privacy of their own devices through social media.
A quick search of Internet resources show teen behaviors have been analyzed, quantified, and discussed from the vantages of parent organizations, academic studies, science and medical perspectives, educational experts, and through news reports with their own analysis. Some suggest adverse behavior patterns are increasing, while others propose statistics to support reduction. Some suggest it is over parental controlling of children that causes asocial behavior while others suggest it is lack of parental supervision.
Which behavior patterns could warrant closer scrutiny? What of those teens who seem to be successfully navigating through the tumultuous years toward independent successful adult behavior, would scrutinizing those behaviors be more productive?
Or would closer scrutiny of teen behavior patterns point to the culture of the adults in the society in which they are expected to learn successful behaviors? Perhaps society should begin to look with open scrutiny of and sacrificial responses to favored vices and behavioral patterns among the leadership offered to teens. What role models are offered? Of historical role models how many have we since vilified or exposed as morally corrupt? How often are reports in the news of teachers involved in illicit or illegal activities involving children, or arrests for substance abuse, domestic violence? What of our “healthy” sports figures as media exposes violence in their domestic relationships, use of drugs or fights on the field? Morality is loosely if at all defined. Religion is diluted by explosive and violent acts in the name of various god figures or exploited as a universe waiting to hand over what is asked for.
Teens need room to experiment within safe boundaries in order to test their move toward independence, but our society has had students as latch key kids with not only minimal supervision in the home, but minimal support for safety, academics, or relationships. Parents are not only working, but if ever married, they are divorcing and dating. Leading to more time without interaction between caring parents and children they have brought into their world.
Issues within our schools have already been cited and voiced along with concerns about societal trends that exacerbate the issues. Military trainers have offered evidence to Congress regarding the use of video games to train inductees in warfare. Educators have complained of competing with cell phones, even classroom computers used for social networking or gaming during class. Highway patrols have cited use of technology, substance abuse, and teen racing stunts as leading to fatalities on the highway. Schools have tried to standardized dress codes to prevent crimes and bullying related to apparel.
Meanwhile media openly advocates drinking, use of drugs and sexual activity among under-aged teens through TV series and movies featuring teens of high school age engaging in risky and illegal activities complicit with adult figures. Stunts showed in fictional situations result in minimal consequences for behaviors that warrant arrests and severe consequences in real life.
Greater scrutiny of teen behaviors would only be useful if there were adults willing to face the truth of their own failure to provide a culture that would support moral, responsible behavioral role models. Refusal to believe psychologists warning that violence on our screens and in our gaming has the effect of desensitization is expressed in the benign and questionable response of, “I watch it,… do it, …play it,….and I turned out okay.” Meanwhile increasing cases of road rage would suggest an underlying intolerance and violent reactionary behavior, perhaps from those same “unaffected” adults.
Scrutiny needs to be on the value or lack of value society places upon our children and deeper relationships in general. Should we scrutinize teen behavior patterns more closely? Yes, scrutinize those populations of teens and young adults who are growing into productive, moral and caring people in spite of the heavy negative influence and pressures they navigate through. Discover what motivates and molds their behavior.