Maybe it’s me…

Is it just me, or have kids gotten worse?

Less intelligent. Less stable. More emotionally and psychologically disturbed. Less capable of coping… coping with disappointment, rejection, imperfection, LIFE. Less mature. Less responsible. Less capable. More dependent. Less willing. Just… worse.

When I was in school, things seemed simple. Easy. Cut and dried. It’s not that way anymore. Between food allergies, emotional problems, metal health issues, lack of coping strategies, undue pressures, family problems, drug use, alcohol abuse, physical, mental and sexual abuse, media influences, technology, distractions, and poor nutrition… it’s amazing that any kids make it through school at all.

Did previous generation have the same issues that were less visible… or have things actually gotten worse? I think it’s a combination of both. But that’s one lethal combination that’s causing irreparable damage to our kids.

After dropping off my class at gym the other day, I was walking down the hall and heard blood curdling screams coming from opposite directions. And when I say “blood curdling”, I mean these were noises I would have expected to hear in a prisoner of war camp… not an elementary school. These were anguished, horrifying, genuinely blood curdling screams. I looked at the closed doors from whence the sounds came. Both were labelled “Emergency Safe Room”.

Emergency Safe Room? I had been in and dealt with Emergency Safe Rooms before. Working in inner city schools required Emergency Safe Rooms. We had a Level 3 EBD program. Emergency Safe Rooms were the norm. But this was small town USA. Population: Middle Class White Kids from Stable Homes. Emergency Safe Rooms? Here? In the sticks?

You bet.

Something is going on with American youth. I’ve never seen so many kids diagnosed with so many things: Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Conduct Disorder… and the list goes on. Maybe in the past behaviors didn’t have a name. Maybe in the past we just labelled kids like we saw it: Good apple, bad apple. Maybe we just pushed the “bad apples” through the system without getting them the help they needed. Maybe all the labels and the diagnoses are a good thing. But why do so many kids have so many issues?

It’s not just the diagnosable disorders. It’s everyday interactions.Students don’t understand the basics of how to behave. They don’t know how to share. They don’t know how to constructively deal with disappointment. They don’t understand that when someone is talking they don’t interrupt. They don’t understand respect for adults or peers. They don’t understand that “No” is non-negotiable. They don’t understand that instant gratification isn’t the norm. They don’t understand that achievement requires hard work. They don’t understand that in the real world, mediocrity isn’t awarded with a trophy or medal. They don’t understand how to empathize or sympathize. They just don’t understand.

But why is that? Poor parenting? Vaccinations? Lack of boundaries? Lower expectations? Mental disorders? Lack of nutrition? Are we looking for something to pin these behaviors on so we don’t have to take a hard look at how we’re raising our kids?

I don’t know the answer. Maybe there is no answer. Maybe there is no issue. Maybe the same questions have been asked since the beginning of time and “kids will be kids”.

Maybe it’s just me.

What do you think? Have you seen a shift in student behavior? Do kids need more mental health resources? Do they need a spank on the bottom? Are we going about this the wrong way? What’s the best way to genuinely help our kids?


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