That’s the question my sister recently asked me. Teens in high school now have soaring rates of anxiety. College students now also have highly anxious and this is increasing regularly. The question is, “Why?”
There are several reasons, and it is easy if we look at the “greatest generation” (people born between 1910-1925) for comparison.
- People in the “greatest generation” had things they believed in. My father believed in the US Government. He is a true “patriot” in that he believed in the fact that we were the “good guys.” Subsequent revelations have indicated that that is not exactly true.
- People believed in the free market system. My father worked for the same company for his whole career. He believed that they produced the best product, had the worker’s interests at heart and that they would do “right” by the country. Unfortunately, none of that is true.
- People believed in the church. Recent revelations have shown that the church could not be trusted as well.
- People believed in heroes. My father believed that Joe Paterno and Penn State were heroes. Unfortunately, that proved not to be true. Sports figures? Movie Stars? Politicians? There are many others we can name, but we can’t name too many people who we truly regard as heroes. Instead, this generation has Homer Simpson and the disgraced adults in the public eye.
- People believed that regulators would keep us safe. Then there was Flint, and many other examples.
So the problem for children and teens becomes, who can we trust? Who is running our world? Some have turned to each other and found bullying emails instead.
So, are you worried yet? You can see how our young people don’t feel that they have any security in their life. It is the role of parents, teachers and other adults to provide safety nets for our young people. They will need to develop their own emotional strength to deal with a very complicated world.