The opinions expressed in blog posts are those of the author and not necessarily those of YouthFacts.org
Obama’s latest bizarre youth-bashing: Drugs, crime and imprisonment are just “teenagers doing stupid things.” Seriously, what is wrong with this president when it comes to young people? His primitive notions of drug abuse and crime are backward, wrong, and sabotage the good reforms he champions.
The White House’s selective anti-rape politicking. “Rape is rape,” says the president… but only when it occurs on campus by “young people.” Not when it happens in American homes, perpetrated by parents and caretakers against children and youth.
Teenage terrorists in every community! Right-wing bigots depict violent jihadism as typical of Muslims. Official and left-wing bigots depict violent jihadism as typical of young people seduced by “social media.” With idiocies like these governing discussion, no wonder the United States ignores crucial issues.
Obama blames Charleston shooting on “young people.” Barack Obama and Bill Clinton may rank among the smartest presidents, but they sound like primitive reactionaries on youth. Continuing his administration’s ugly campaign to blame the young for all social problems – mass shootings, gun violence, crime, rape, drug abuse, bullying, obesity, racism, betraying America’s ideals, etc. – Obama again singled out “young people” as responsible for the Charleston tragedy.
It’s okay for liberals to talk about domestic violence against children and teenagers. The pretense that youth are murdered, raped, beaten, and bullied only by their peers is a persistent evasion in mainstream and progressive media alike.
Are liberal MSNBC commentators trying to get more black teenagers shot? The supposedly liberal network is baselessly blaming local “teenagers” and “14 and 15 year-olds” for Ferguson, Missouri’s, violence and arson in the wake of November 24’s grand jury decision exonerating the white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager. MSNBC’s bizarre effort to create more fear of black teenagers is amply refuted by Monday night’s arrest statistics.
The demonization of African American youth. The demonization of African American youth as ever-worse murderers, drug dealers, and criminals is perpetrated by the right and left alike–when in fact, murder and other crime by black youth has fallen to 50-year lows and comprises only a tiny fraction of the nation’s homicide and crime toll.
Gun violence: “Our children” versus “their children”. Despite the murders of 700 to 1,000 children and teens every year in family violence, mainly inflicted by their parents, the White House’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative continues the official pretense that household violence only affects women, and teenagers are assaulted and killed only by other teens. Why is President Obama, who stridently condemns “youth violence,” so reluctant to talk about domestic violence against children and youth?
Why is it all right to blame all teenagers for rape? Time’s Susanna Schrobsdorff, Forbes’ Bob Cook, and a host of other journalists and commentators would be fired if they aimed their bigoted trashings accusing all members of any other demographic group of being rapists and accomplices of rape–the same as if they’d declared that all Catholics are like sexually abusive priests, or rapist-abductor Ariel Castro was just engaging in everyday middle-aged male behavior.
“Deadly lessons” in lying: CNN’s Anderson Cooper “keeps it unreal” in a hate-myth series on Chicago youth. Lamenting the murders of children is no excuse for this media orgy bashing all of Chicago’s young (black) people with alarmist lies no one at CNN bothered to fact-check — when, contrary to claims of a new “culture of violence,” police and health reports show violence by and against Chicago youth have fallen to all-time lows.
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.
But aren’t kids today more violent? NO. They’re far less so — no matter how badly politicians, lobbies, consultants, and the press needs them to be getting worse.
With loony “middle ground” lobbies like these, who needs right-wing racists? Third Way urges progressive politicians to get ahead of conservatives with old-fashioned demagoguery whipping up fears of a youth “crime wave” driven by new technologies and racial change, blaming crime on illegal immigrants, and pushing harsh crackdowns.
How many of America’s 30,000 fatal shootings every year occur on school campuses? Around 30 in a bad year — 1 one-hundredth of 1%. America’s schools are safer from shootings than Denmark. But you’d be forgiven for thinking it must be thousands, given the strenuous efforts by the White House, lobbies, and news media to convince students that violence and school shootings are just the normality for their age.
The middle-aged crime wave you never heard of. Americans in their 40s (that is, the parents!) commit more murder, rape, and assault than teenaged youths do, one of the many facts you’ll never hear from today’s herd journalists and experts.
Press stenographers recite Minneapolis Police Chief’s lie that juveniles commit 50% of the city’s violence. CBS News and other outlets were so eager to award puff-piece congratulations to the Minneapolis Police Department that they failed to fact-check the MPD’s own readily available statistics showing Chief Tim Dolan’s comments blaming youths for violence were flat-out lies.
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.
UC Berkeley’s Malcolm Potts’ racist/ageist rants blame all war and terrorism on teenagers. Demographer Potts ugly new eugenics blaming dark-skinned young people for global war and terrorism is not just beyond factually insane, his proposal to use birth control to limit their numbers is a throwback to century-old racism… as well as suicidal.
“It Gets Better” campaign chooses popularity over inclusiveness. It sounds like a hopeful message to gay teens that getting older will fix everything. But the underlying image of “It Gets Better” also contains false and ugly subcontexts: that gay teens are fragile and self-destructive (in fact, they appear less inclined to suicide than adults); young straight people are homophobic bullies while adults are serene and tolerant (in reality, the young are society’s most pro-gay demographic); and the movement is interested only in gay youth who suffer bullying by peers; those who suffer homophobic treatment by adults, not so much. And its message, however hopeful-sounding, may be wrong. (read more)
Did Colorado’s contraception program really reduce “teen” births by 40%? When conservatives breathlessly claimed San Marcos, California’s, abstinence-only education program cut teen pregnancies by an incredible 85 percent, we were among those debunking the absurd claim. Likewise, liberal claims that Colorado’s post-2007 program that provides free contraception to teenagers and adults caused teen births to fall by “40%” deserve scrutiny. Did it?
The US should join the rest of the world: Teenagers are adults. The administration’s obstinant stance against providing Plan B emergency contraception to teenage girls on the same basis as adult women–one only recently reversed–does not reflect scientific acumen or sincere concern. Rather, President Obama’s cruel and reckless attitude, in which he even publicly demeaned his own daughters, puts poorer young women (especially rape and sexual abuse victims) who have little access to physicians or prescriptions at severe risk–a reality his own past community work surely revealed. Obama’s unreasoning meanness toward young women reflects the youth-bashing politics of his former top advisor Rahm Emanuel.
Wildly overhyped “tween dating abuse” survey recited by journalistic sycophants to promote fashion designer. All domestic violence is unacceptable, but scapegoating 11-14 year-olds as violent and promiscuous with alarmist trash is unconscionable. What did fashionista Liz Claiborne’s survey actually find? That 99% of 11-12 year-olds and 93% of 13-14-year-olds had never gone “further than kissing or making out,” 98% had never felt their safety was threatened by a partner, and just 2% had experienced physical violence or sexual violence from a partner. Did Liz Claiborne, CBS, and other compliant outlets’ terrifying stories report what the survey actually found? Hell, no.
Lying about “teenage sex” is so rampant across the spectrum that we can’t even admit basic realities. Interest groups left to right alternate between dispensing warped myths and falling over themselves to grab credit for imagined achievements. We’re lucky teens themselves are paying no attention to all the clamor and are showing major improvements in key areas.
The Urban Institute, which once defended adult men impregnating teenagers as socially acceptable, holds sexist conference on the “social costs” of “teenage motherhood.” The supposedly liberal Urban Institute has been at the forefront of racist and sexist distortions of what we call “teenage childbearing.”
“90 pregnant teens at one Memphis high school!” turns out to be just planted media gossip. On the heels of the phony Gloucester “teen pregnancy pact” baloney (there was no “pact” and no “pregnancy spike”), the media rushed again to credit a thoroughly wrong rumor that a high school had “90 pregnant teens.” Do reporters and interests even care if they lie about youth?
“Teen pregnancy pact” media frenzy spreads a complete hoax. There was no “pregnancy pact” among Gloucester, Massachusetts, high school girls. There was no “spike in pregnancies” there. Just a series of lies cooked up by self-interested school officials (who are now acting like they’re the victims!) and spread all over the globe by venal journalists.
Bristol Palin’s pregnancy arouses America’s bipartisan meanness against youth. Rosalynn Carter was a teenage bride and a pregnant teenager—like five other First Ladies. The rage to brand Bristol an irresponsible, uneducated “baby” and her child certain to be damaged tells us more about the commentaridiots’ own damaged bigotries.
Now the president is blaming teenagers for America’s drug abuse crisis that in reality is centered in middle age. Are adults responsible for anything anymore?.
Lying about teenagers isn’t “responsible marijuana legalization.” California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom fans phony anti-youth panic in his campaign to legalize weed for grownup partying.
The “pot talk” is another hypocritical evasion. Cajoling, punishing, and “educating” teens to abstain from everything isn’t just futile, it’s another excuse for not confronting irresponsible behaviors by grownups themselves.
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.
“Underage” alcohol use: A civil rights issue? The United States’ high 21 drinking age and repressive approach to forced rehabilitation helps explain why we suffer among the highest addiction rates in the Western world.
“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.
Republican health care plan bribes older voters by tossing young people under a Mack Truck. The Affordable Care Act forced young people to subsidize the artificially capped premiums of older ones, but it at least had some compensations for poorer young people. The new GOP plan by candidate Scott Walker would result in a massive shift of tax and insurance premium costs from young to old with little compensation.
My Brother’s Keeper. When the government truly wants to reduce poverty among an important population, it spends the money–$650 billion in 2012 on Social Security for the elderly, for example. When the government doesn’t care much about rampant poverty among an unimportant population, like youth, it leaves it to private tokenism, like President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative: churches, volunteers, mentors, and “consultants and firms.”
Education cutbacks, student debt: The real generation war The defunding of education and skyrocketing student debt so that older, wealthier Americans can enrich themselves with tax cuts is a true “generation war.”
The Minimum Wage movement disowns teenagers. Ignore politicians’ and lobbyists’ pious concerns about teenagers and increasing the minimum wage. All sides are distancing themselves from teenagers (our poorest age group other than children, and one which would also benefit from a higher wage), preparatory to throwing them under the bus yet again.
The Obama-endorsed “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” discriminates against the young. There’s no reason why an otherwise qualified individual should be rejected or paid an arbitrarily low wage just because of young age — and more than a woman or minority individual. So, why do so-called “fair pay” laws explicitly allow discrimination against young workers with qualifications equal to those of older ones?
Why are Atlantic, New Yorker, Harper’s, and other liberal-intellectual journals peddling primitive psychobabble about young people? Are authors like Elizabeth Kolbert, Caitlin Flanagan, Rebecca Solnit, and Ron Powers so angry at teenagers that their middle-aged brains can’t think straight?
Do leaders and interests really care about “teen suicide” — or just how they can use it? Teens commit suicide at far lower rates than adults, and the few who do have real causes of distress led by their families’ rejection, violence, depression, and addiction. It’s unconscionable that politicians and interests cynically exploit “teen suicide” to popularize themselves and push their own agendas.
Blaming adolescents for adult depression is unwarranted. A recent study in the British Medical Journal receiving widespread publicity claimed bullying by teenagers was associated with one-third of adult depression. This is part of a growing effort to blame youths for adult problems. Our letter published in BMJ argues that study authors failed to control for obvious confounds — especially physical, sexual, and psychological abuse (that is, extreme bullying) of children and teenagers by adults.
Those reckless… grownups. Male drivers and drivers age 21-44 are less likely to use seat belts than teens… but guess who gets called reckless and immature?
Very few teens suffer eating disorders. Why are new findings that 97% of teens never had an eating disorder and 94% show no signs to developing one being treated as such bad news that authorities and experts insist on trying to convince young people that mass eating disorder is the normality?
Critics of students’ critical thinking skills ain’t no critical thinkers themselves. Former Harvard University President Derek Bok, the shallow, youth-bashing Miller-McCune magazine, and a host of lofty commentators eagerly aped a recent study claiming students today lack critical skills. But, funny thing, none of these lofty types displayed a shred of critical thinking themselves!
Terrible news! Teens are happier and getting more so. In a long-term finding certain to infuriate interest groups and upset many adults, Monitoring the Future reports the large majority of teenagers are happy with their friends, school, themselves, and many aspects of their lives, and getting more so. We grownups can’t have that! Convince those kids that, in the words of pop-psychologist Jean Twenge, they’re really “miserable”!
Why are ‘experts’ so traumatized by “Kid Nation”? Do we need to install V-chips on TVs to protect fragile grownups from CBS’s new reality series, “Kid Nation”? What accounts for the outpouring of apocalyptic fear about the dangers of a show that deputized 40 children ages 8 to 15 to spend a few weeks restoring a decrepit New Mexico mining town?
America’s news media: a cesspool of anti-youth misinformation. YouthFacts’ fact-checking of media stories reveals a repeated series of identical falsehoods. Every media story on youth is mindlessly, numbingly the same. There’s no sense of editor or reporter initiative, responsibility, professionalism, fairness, interest in accuracy, or even avoiding the most primitive insanity and hostile exploitation.
Is the internet safer for youths than church? Leave those kids online alone. Their odds of being raped or murdered by online predators are far lower than in church or at home.
Why is bigotry and distortion against young people the one prejudice that remains acceptable in political and media forums? The growing power of once-stigmatized minority groups has created a dilemma for mainstream and liberal leaders and commentators who seek both the support of minority constituencies and the privileges of ugly “demographic scapegoating” (blaming powerless groups for social ills). Solution: Trash young people, the one remaining safe scapegoat… facts and fairness be damned. (read more)
What’s really wrong with young people today: Juvenoia. “Teens and young adults remain one group of people that can be publicly disparaged with almost no condemnation,” writes psychologist Chris Ferguson. “A vein of true loathing runs through much of the discussion. And until we’re honest about that it will continue to produce urban legends and junk science.”
“Commonsense.org” mongers senseless fear and censorship. Parents should never allow even older high schoolers to watch “Game of Thrones,” “Girls,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Orange Is the New Black”, “The Sopranos,” “NCIS,” and dozens of other shows? Are they f****** kidding?
“Knuckleheads”? The real “knucklehead:” First Lady Michelle Obama’s gratuitous, mean-spirited youth bashing delights right-wingers. In truth, her middle-aged generation’s “knuckleheaded” misbehaviors, from skyrocketing violent crime to drug-driven deaths to obesity and family disarray, that are costing young insurance consumers big money.
“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.
Is there an “epidemic” of teens terrorizing the homeless? Not even nearly. This supposed “new fad” of teens to beat and murder homeless people stems from a tiny number of sensational cases that advocates and their media sycophants eagerly generalize to all teenagers. As with most populations, the biggest threats of violence by far to the homeless are from their homeless peers.
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?
The right way to be racist in 2010. What was shock-jock Don Imus thinking? “Nappy-headed ho’s” is racist! Enlightened liberals know the correct phrasing is, “Young African American women afflicted with corporate-advertising-driven promiscuity and pseudo-native hairstyles.”
If Lindsay is the Everygirl, then is her even worse mother the Everymom? Yes, the girl’s got problems (beginning with her parents), but that doesn’t excuse the lynch mob mentality that seems to include her publicity-craving mother.