Category : Teens / Youth

A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’

When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.

Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”

“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(Wa Po) Jean Twenge–Teenage depression and suicide are way up — and so is smartphone use

Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless — classic symptoms of depression — surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13-to-18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background: more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities, and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” — those born after 1995 — is much more likely to experience mental-health issues than their millennial predecessors.

What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology

(NYT) Doubts Grow Over Archbishop Welby’s Account of When He Knew of Abuse at Iwerne Camps

The Anglican Church has been embroiled for most of this year in a scandal involving decades-old abuses that occurred in elite Christian holiday camps for boys where Justin Welby worked in his 20s, before eventually assuming his current post as the Most Rev. Archbishop of Canterbury.

The archbishop has said that he knew nothing of the abuse until 2013, when the police were informed about it, and he apologized in February for not having done more to investigate the claims further.

But now the grown men who were victims of the abuse as boys are coming forward to challenge the archbishop’s version of events, casting doubt on his claims of ignorance.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But unlike depression, with which it routinely occurs, anxiety is often seen as a less serious problem.

“Anxiety is easy to dismiss or overlook, partially because everyone has it to some degree,” explained Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University in Philadelphia. It has an evolutionary purpose, after all; it helps us detect and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Highly anxious people, though, have an overactive fight-or-flight response that perceives threats where there often are none.

But sometimes there are good reasons to feel anxious. For many young people, particularly those raised in abusive families or who live in neighborhoods besieged by poverty or violence, anxiety is a rational reaction to unstable, dangerous circumstances. At the Youth Anxiety Center’s clinic in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, which serves mostly poor and working-class Hispanic youth, teenagers would object to the definition of anxiety I heard often at Mountain Valley: “The overestimation of danger and the underestimation of our ability to cope.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(Marketwatch) Why American teenagers are not interested in adult activities like sex, drinking — or working

Kids today are in no hurry to grow up.

Teenagers are increasingly less likely to engage in adult activities like drinking alcohol, working jobs, driving or having sex according to research from San Diego State University and Bryn Mawr College published in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development Tuesday…[of last week].

With smaller families, longer life expectancy and after-school educational activities, today’s 18-year-olds are looking like 15-year-olds once did, according to Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the lead author on the study. She calls it a “slow-life strategy” where parents have fewer children, “but nurture them more carefully.”

The number of teenagers who tried alcohol between 2010 and 2016 dropped to 67% from 93% between 1976 and 1979. And the number that had earned money from working dropped from 76% to 55% over the same period. Teens who had engaged in sexual activity by the end of high school dropped 12% between 1994 and 2016. The declines in adult activities were consistent across demographic groups, including gender, race, socioeconomic status, region, and in both urban and rural areas, suggesting a major shift is taking place.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth

(NYT Op-ed) Steve Silberman–The Police Need to Understand Autism

Diane Craglow was caring for a 14-year-old autistic boy named Connor Leibel in Buckeye, Ariz., one day in July. They took a walk to one of his favorite places, a park in an upscale community called Verrado. She was not hesitant to leave Connor alone for a few minutes while she booked a piano lesson for his sister nearby, because he usually feels safe and comfortable in places that are familiar to him, and he learns to be more independent that way.

When Ms. Craglow returned, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a police officer looming over the now-handcuffed boy, pinning him to the ground against a tree. Connor was screaming, and the police officer, David Grossman, seemed extremely agitated.

As Ms. Craglow tried to piece together what had happened, more officers arrived, spilling out of eight patrol cars in response to Officer Grossman’s frantic call for backup. Soon it became clear to Ms. Craglow that the policeman was unaware that Connor has autism, and had interpreted the boy’s rigid, unfamiliar movements — which included raising a piece of yarn to his nose to sniff it repeatedly — as a sign of drug intoxication.

As a graduate of Arizona’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program, Officer Grossman is certified as a “drug recognition expert.” But no one had trained him to recognize one of the classic signs of autism: the repetitive movements that autistic people rely on to manage their anxiety in stressful situations, known as self-stimulation or “stimming.” That’s what Connor was doing with the string when Officer Grossman noticed him while he was on patrol.

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(WSJ) Kristina Arriaga–Cutting Young Girls Isn’t Religious Freedom

Earlier this year, a 7-year-old girl from Minnesota entered an examination room at a clinic just outside of Detroit. Thinking this was a regular visit, she allowed the doctor to remove her pants and underwear and place her on the examination table. Suddenly, while two women in the clinic held her hands, the physician spread her legs and cut her clitoris. Two months later she told investigators the pain ran down to her ankles and she could barely walk.

In April Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who allegedly performed the procedure, was charged with conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, the owner of the since-closed clinic, was also charged. Investigators suspect Ms. Nagarwala may be involved in 100 other cases, and the trial starts in October. This marks the first time a female genital mutilation case is going to federal court. The lawyers for the Michigan physician will argue the girl “underwent a benign religious procedure.” This is a dangerous hypocrisy with far-reaching consequences.

Female genital mutilation has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996. Yet a 2012 study in the journal Public Health Reports estimates that more than 500,000 girls in the U.S. have undergone the procedure or are at risk. These girls live all over the country, with larger concentrations in California, New York and Minnesota. Most go through this process in secret, and only 25 states have laws that criminalize the procedure. In Maine, the American Civil Liberties Union has opposed a bill to do so on the ground that “the risk of mutilation isn’t worth expanding Maine’s criminal code.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Women

(Atlantic) Jean Twenge–Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

In the early 1970s, the photographer Bill Yates shot a series of portraits at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in Tampa, Florida. In one, a shirtless teen stands with a large bottle of peppermint schnapps stuck in the waistband of his jeans. In another, a boy who looks no older than 12 poses with a cigarette in his mouth. The rink was a place where kids could get away from their parents and inhabit a world of their own, a world where they could drink, smoke, and make out in the backs of their cars. In stark black-and-white, the adolescent Boomers gaze at Yates’s camera with the self-confidence born of making your own choices—even if, perhaps especially if, your parents wouldn’t think they were the right ones.

Fifteen years later, during my own teenage years as a member of Generation X, smoking had lost some of its romance, but independence was definitely still in. My friends and I plotted to get our driver’s license as soon as we could, making DMV appointments for the day we turned 16 and using our newfound freedom to escape the confines of our suburban neighborhood. Asked by our parents, “When will you be home?,” we replied, “When do I have to be?”

But the allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth

([London] Times) Twitter will leave young illiterate, says prominent novelist Howard Jacobson

A Booker prize-winning novelist has warned that children will be illiterate within a generation, because of the devastating impact of Twitter.

Howard Jacobson said that the combination of social media and smartphones had changed the nature of communication so completely that even he — a man who once liked nothing better than to curl up with “300 densely packed pages” of a late Henry James novel — now craved interruption.

Within 20 years, “we will have children who can’t read, who don’t want to read”, he said. “I can’t read any more as much as I used to. My concentration has been shot by this bloody screen. I can’t do it now — I want space, I want white pages, light behind the page.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Children, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Theology

([London] Times) German girl Linda Wenzel with Isis snipers ‘must face justice in Iraq’

A German teenager found with Islamic State snipers in Mosul must be put on trial, according to a Yazidi MP who is the most prominent spokesperson for her beleaguered people.

Linda Wenzel, 16, must be properly investigated before being allowed to return to Germany, Vian Dakhil said. Ms Dakhil sits in the Iraqi parliament and came to prominence with a tearful appeal for help when Isis was massacring thousands of Yazidis in 2014.

“A sniper #isis was captured in #Mosul, she is ‘German girl’,” Ms Dakhil tweeted. “The mother of the #sniper girl was found in #Germany and she didn’t deny that she is her daughter.”

Ms Dakhil later said that Linda’s mother, Katharina, had confirmed that the girl pulled from a tunnel in the bomb-ravaged Old City area of Mosul was her daughter.

“She is now being investigated by the security forces,” Ms Dakhil told The Times. “We will demand that the government does not hand her over to her country. She came to Iraq and joined a terrorist group and she has to be punished according to Iraqi law here.”

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Posted in Children, Germany, Iraq, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Terrorism

(PD) Nathan Smith–On sex Before Marriage: Our grandparents were right, and we are wrong

On the other side is the glory of marriage, and while there’s more to that glory than the selfish genes can explain, they shed an important light on it. For when two people marry, “leaving father and mother” as the Bible says and committing to lifelong monogamy, their genetic interests are united, at least approximately, creating a harmony of instincts. Ordinarily, our instincts put us in competition with our fellow human beings. In marriage, instinct is on the side of love.

Children are the large, obvious reason why marriage is good for society and why premarital sex isn’t. Sexual relationships always absorb a lot of people’s energy and attention, so they impoverish society unless they give something back. Marriage makes the next generation, under the most favorable conditions. Premarital sex is usually not intended for procreation, and if it does result in children, they enter life at a disadvantage because they lack stable parental commitments to raising them.

But even compared to childless marriage, premarital sex has an unwholesome character because, by failing to address genetic conflicts of interest through marriage, it allows competition, exploitation, and fear of betrayal to penetrate into the heart of the most intimate human relationships, not stealthily, but openly and as if by right. There is no way to make premarital sex promote the good of society or of the individuals involved. The world would be a better place if it never happened at all.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(NPR) They Quit Their Office Jobs in Nigeria’s Parliament To Teach Kids In A Camp For Displaced People

Zachariah Ibrahim dreams of being a pilot. That’s not so unusual for a 13-year-old kid. But not that long ago, Zachariah didn’t have many dreams for the future.

Two young Nigerians helped give him hope again.

Awofeso Adebola, 23, and Ifeoluwa Ayomide, 22, had well-paying jobs in the Nigerian parliament. Then Adebola visited the displaced person camp in Durumi, outside the capital city of Abuja, to donate relief materials. That’s where Zachariah lives. The camp is home to some 2,000 people who’ve fled from the attacks of Boko Haram, which is fighting to carve out an Islamic state in the north of the country.

“They were shooting people and burning down homes,” the bristly-haired teenager says, tears welling up in his eyes. “My family trekked for four days with little food and water.” That was in June 2014.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Nigeria, Pastoral Theology, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Young Adults

(WSJ) Clare Ansberry–The Teenage Spiritual Crisis

Thomas [Ramey] hit another hard stretch when he was about age 16 and three people close to him died, including a friend of the family who had dementia. Thomas and his mother visited often, helping the man’s wife care for him. “For weeks I prayed for God to kill this man so his wife wouldn’t have to see him in pain anymore,” he says. “He suffered and died in a terrible way.”

“Thomas is very compassionate,” says Mrs. Ramey. He stops in twice a week to help an elderly neighbor empty her trash and works in a soup kitchen.

Sometime after that, he quit praying. “If something bad is going to happen, it’s going to happen,” he says. “Deal with it head on. I am not going to sit there and say to God ‘Don’t let this happen and don’t let that happen.’”

Thomas still believes in God. The earth and solar system are too complex and fragile not to have something influencing and connecting everything, he says. “Whether whatever created us, loves us, is a different matter,” he says. He doubts there is an afterlife and isn’t troubled by that.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth

NYT: How one Christian School Dealt with a Teenager who bravely chose to Keep her Baby

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Uncategorized

(Chic Tribune) Student who tried hacking into grading system sues school board for expelling him

The lawsuit argues that state law and legal precedence require that school districts consider other measures of punishment before expulsion, and that failed to happen in this case.

According to the hearing officer’s report, an administrator at the Northbrook school did not specify whether other measures were considered but said a disciplinary committee that investigated “felt it was important to send a message.”

“If (the student) is allowed to return to school after serving a suspension, then other students could certainly decide that attempting to access a teacher’s account to change grades is worth the risk,” the report said.

The lawsuit contends that the student has not had disciplinary problems at school and that his actions caused no disruption to school operations, factors that the suit contends should have resulted in lesser punishment.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth