Welcome to YouthFacts!We are debunkers.
YouthFacts is dedicated to providing factual information on youth issues such as crime, violence, sex, drugs, drinking, social behaviors, education, civic engagement, attitudes, media, and whatever the latest teen terror du jour arises. Beginning around 35 years ago--coinciding with visibly increasing racial diversity of American youth--interests of every stripe discovered they could buttress their politics, programs, fame, and fortunes by manufacturing ever-wilder fears of young people's "new" and "shocking" dangers and endangerments. (Miracle of miracles, these very interests' pet programs, legislative agendas, and especially monetary enrichment just happened to be the ticket to fix these unheard-of youth epidemics.)
As "youth" have become handier scapegoats, horror figures, and profit-generating
commodities in America's privatized social policy arena, sincerity has
been buried by fear, lying, and raw self-interest. The information provided
on these pages is ORIGINAL, that is, NOT derived secondhand from special
interests, media reports, or anointed "experts." Rather, the reader
will be able to see and link to the primary data sources cited and will
be able to see firsthand how youth issues are routinely distorted in
public forums. Sure, we have opinions, biases, and often belong to groups
with an array of agendas. But we don't tie information here to supporting
a political or social agenda. We do promise to debunk others' agendas
with gusto. So many interests and media across the political spectrum
manufacture such grossly inaccurate things about youththen recycle
each other's worst inaccuraciesthat we can promise a site that is both
non-ideological and offensive to ideologues. And, unlike entrenched
interests, we'll respond seriously to challenges and corrections.
Student Postings on Youth Issues
Outstanding student journalism. A major YouthFacts frustration is that youths fail to stand up for themselves, many preferring either to hide their real lives until they age or to ally with adults against their peers. That's why Redwood High School's (Marin County, California) sophisticated Redwood Bark student newspaper series of editorials on targeting teens and youth rights is so refreshing, as well as a model for the skepticism and research the mainstream and alternative media should be following, but aren't.
"Underage" Americans pay a heavy price for "overage" drinking privileges.
Legal-drinking American grownups kill 800, injure 80,000, and traumatize a quarter-million "underage" children and teenagers every year in traffic crashes caused by adults age 21 and older. It's the least we can do, Prof. David J. Hanson argues, to bring young adults into the legal alcohol system, which involves profound employment, cultural, and human rights issues.
Hate speech against teenagers needs to end.
Anti-youth commentators like Time Magazine’s Susanna Schrobsdorff and Forbes Magazine’s Bob Cook who blamed all of America's teenagers for the Steubenville rapes need to be treated with the same condemnation we rightly aim at racist and sexist voices in the media. Grownups certainly don't accept collective responsibility for the Catholic Church or Penn State sexual abuses.
100 days after Newtown, we're learning yet again that gun violence is too important to leave to politicians and interest groups.
Left to itself, Washington will fixate on easily-bashed youth, ignore the 95% of American gun violence that's uncomfortable to talk about, and ignore the epidemic of domestic violence inflicted by adults against children and teenagers, a disgraceful omission the White House's latest pronouncement perpetuates.
Police Department's vitriol against young people is more reason for federal takeover. The cops brand a 16 year-old murder victim as "at risk" and blame her for being shot by a 36 year-old man simply because she was in public. The police chief trashes the city's young people en masse as greedy and dangerous even though youth perpetrate only a small fraction of crime. Pervasive, continuing police bigotries underlies the reason for the recent federal takeover of the troubled OPD.
Lead exposure and poverty: Have we gotten “youth violence” all wrong? We've found in repeated studies that teenagers and young adults are no more prone to risk-taking and crime than older adults once the fact 15-24 year-olds are 2-3 times more likely to suffer the economic and environmental harms associated with poverty than middle-agers is taken into account. Now, a researcher finds lead in the blood--which at high levels are associated with many aspects of criminal behavior--by generation track crime rates in a strikingly reliable fashion.
Who's really murdering our children--and why won't we talk about it?: A large majority of murdered American children under age 10 died not from shootings by deranged gunmen, gangbangers, bullies or lurking internet predators, but in violence at home by their parents. A child or teenager under age 18 is 40 times more likely to be murdered at home than at school by anyone. Realities to think about as political interests in the wake of Sandy Hook make schools sound like dens of mass slaughter.
American gun debate stifled by myth, dogma, and resistance to crucial information: During Barack Obama's presidency, 3,000 American children and teenagers have been murdered at home in domestic violence, nearly all by parents and caretakers. That's a Sandy Hook-sized toll every 10 days. Have the president and other leaders faced this difficult reality? Hardly. The Obama White House has largely ignored child abuse and has flatly blamed gun violence on "children." Without a major change of heart in the White House, the legacy of Sandy Hook will be just another study in scapegoating.
Plunge in black-youth crime threatens politics of scapegoating: The latest, 2011, FBI Crime in America report shows rates of all types of crime by African American youth have fallen to their lowest levels since statistics by race were first reported (in incomplete fashion) in 1964. Yet President Obama, mayors, media commentators, and right-wing lobbies continue to push their agendas by demonizing today's black youth as the epicenter of violence--a 2012 bigotry as insidious as Jim Crow.
The “Zimmerman Dilemma”: How afraid should we be of young black men?: Self-appointed suburban vigilante George Zimmerman pursues and guns down unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin; his later comments showed he feared Martin simply because the teenager was young and African American. How much responsibility does the national commentariat, from President Obama to black leaders to right-wing fear-mongers, bear for misrepresenting today's young black men as fearsomely violent... exactly the way Zimmerman misperceived Trayvon Martin?
“Stand your ground” does not apply to black teenagers: Typically, after a highly publicized shooting, the National Rifle Association & friends declare that if the "good guy" victim(s) of a "bad guy" gunman had just been armed, they'd still be alive. Strangely, the NRA failed to raise the argument that if African American teenager Trayvon Martin had a Glock 19 pistol instead of Skittles, Martin could have repelled his attacker. In fact, the entire discussion has been whether vigilante George Zimmerman had the right under Florida law to "stand his ground" against Martin after he'd pursued and picked a fight with Martin--not about Martin's rights under that same law.
California reform cuts simple marijuana arrests 86%--without imposing age limits:
What on earth do drug reform groups do to refute drug warriors' alarms that legalizing marijuana will lead to (gasp) more terrifying pot smoking by YOUR teenager? California now provides an answer. Its 2011 reform reducing simple marijuana possession to a mere citation comparable to jaywalking for all ages allowed teens access to quasi-legal weed on the same basis as adults. Instead of baking their way to oblivion, California teens displayed the lowest rates of crime, other drug arrests, school dropout, pregnancy, and general problems in 2011 on record--and none of the terrible outcomes drug warriors predicted.
Washington’s and Colorado’s marijuana legalization schemes are no model for California:
Legalization of marijuana use for adults in Washington and Colorado doesn't "end the war on marijuana" as advocates insist because pot users under age 21--the forgotten group that comprises half of all marijuana possession arrests--will continue to suffer criminal arrests carrying incarceration and costs of up to $5,000. In contrast, California's age-neutral reform shows that decriminalizing marijuana should include young people, not perpetuate their arrest and punishment so that grownups can enjoy legal highs.
School-bus bullying rage shows how crazy bullying discourse has become: Four students who bullied a school bus monitor with cruel taunts have received thousands of violent threats--including promised beatings, sexual dismemberments, even death directed at their families--from grownups across the country whose knowledge of the incident is limited to viewing a 10-minute online video and press accounts. As much as these youths may deserve punishment, are their verbal tauntings really the big issue?
Banning youths from streets may make us less safe: Why curfews fail. Bloomberg News published our op-ed on why cities' response to newly manufactured panics over "flash mobs" and ongoing fears of "youth on the streets" resurrected a self-defeating curfew stampede that wastes police time removing law-abiding youth from the streets.
"Alarming" CASA study linking teen social media use, TV watching, and drug/alcohol use may have been rigged: After using crudely fraudulent methodology to rig yet another overwrought junk study---this one claiming that Facebook, MySpace, "Skins," "Gossip Girl," and other social and popular media impel teens to use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco---it is time for funders, Columbia University, political authorities, and the news media to shun Joseph Califano, Jr., and his anti-scholarly Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and end the influence of this tirelessly senseless crusade to malign young people and warp sensible drug policy.
Not "youth violence" again... : President Obama launches his 2012 reelection campaign with a triple attack against young people, a legacy of former chief of staff Rahm Emanuels cowardly Clinton-era politics of generational fearmongering. The White Houses calculated efforts to win values voters support by cynically trashing Americas young as bullies, rapists, and violent criminalsand its conspicuous silence on genuine but impolitic issues like youth poverty and child abusedemonstrate the growing dishonesty of an administration that promised change and hope to win young peoples enthusiasm, then delivered the same old bigoted anti-youth clichs and exploitation.
"Teens and Torture"--more atrocious "alternative media" misreporting on youth, featuring dubious survey: The Huffington Post and Daily Beast continue their atrocious culture-war hate campaigns against modern youth with junk reporting uncritically recycling the unfounded claim from a scam survey that teens (but not adults) "support torture." On youth issues, there is no "alternative" or "progressive" media--right to left, corporate to alternative, it's all the same old anti-youth panics.
The White House's selective anti-rape politics: President Obama launches his 2012 reelection campaign with a triple attack against young people, a legacy of former chief of staff Rahm Emanuels cowardly Clinton-era politics of generational fearmongering. The White Houses calculated efforts to win values voters support by cynically trashing Americas young as bullies, rapists, and violent criminalsand its conspicuous silence on genuine but impolitic issues like youth poverty and child abusedemonstrate the growing dishonesty of an administration that promised change and hope to win young peoples enthusiasm, then delivered the same old bigoted anti-youth clichs and exploitation.
Very few teens suffer eating disorders: New study finds that contrary to the panics spread by media and interest groups bent on convincing teenagers they're all crazy, very few teenagers suffer from eating disorders.
White House "bullying summit" plays to the cheap seats: President Obama launches his 2012 reelection campaign with a triple attack against young people, a legacy of former chief of staff Rahm Emanuels cowardly Clinton-era politics of generational fearmongering. The White Houses calculated efforts to win values voters support by cynically trashing Americas young as bullies, rapists, and violent criminalsand its conspicuous silence on genuine but impolitic issues like youth poverty and child abusedemonstrate the growing dishonesty of an administration that promised change and hope to win young peoples enthusiasm, then delivered the same old bigoted anti-youth clichs and exploitation. The White House summit on bullying, like the President's sudden concern over gay teens' suicides, really shows how limited and selective Americans' compassion for young people is. Poverty, family abuses, and abandonment kill far more teens, gay and straight, but we rarely hear about these distressing realities amid politician, expert, and media eagerness to exploit easy crowd-pleasers like "student bullying."
National campaign responds to YF New York Times op-ed debunking "sexting" and other "teen legends": National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, responding to YF's New York Times op-ed debunking myths about teens, adds another myth by weirdly denying the Campaign ever hyped "sexting"--proving again why they're right to be embarrassed about their record.
"90 pregnant teens at one Memphis high school" media splash turns out to be just grownup gossip: "90 pregnant teens at one Memphis high school"! Like the equally nonexistent Gloucester "teen pregnancy pact," this turns out to be just another phony media splash, a YouthFacts investigation finds. But not before Girls Inc., Kim Kardashian, and a host of other grandstanders grabbed some national limelight spreading moralistic foolishness and rotten statistics.
Critics of students' critical thinking ain't either: Strange, isn't it, how all the academics, experts, news reporters, and commentators deploring the lack of "critical thinking" and "rigor" among today's students fail to display rigorous critical thinking themselves?
Obama-endorsed Lilly Ledbetter "fair pay" act perpetuates wage discrimination against young: The so-called "fair pay act" promoted by President Obama perpetuates and may even worsen arbitrary wage discrimination against younger workers (as well as female and Hispanic workers, who tend to be young) and worsen the massive, growing income and wealth gap between older and already poorer, deb-ridden younger generations.
New York Times public editor will scrutinize "fake trends": The New York Times Public Editor, responding to a detailed complaint by YouthFacts about a story on cyberbullying, agrees the story was not well documented and promises greater scrutiny of "fake trends" reports. We contend that news stories alleging supposed epidemics of teenage bullying, hooking up, sexting, dating violence, narcissism, online dangers, depression, and similar "fake trends" feature inflammatory claims, severe "problem inflation," and chronically violate fair and factual reporting standards. Dateline NBC's "My Kid Would Never Bully" is another case in point, critically reviewed here.