Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Toddlers on Steroids

The scientist and his books presented in this video are utterly destructive. It's no surprise to me that youth are "rebellious," anybody who is constantly bullied every day of their life by another group of people and are left completely defenseless to it by none other than the same group of people, would naturally start showing strains of resistance. To me, it's no surprise that young people act the way they do when adults get off insulting them with such childish schoolyard taunts as "they're like toddlers on steroids!"

Firstly, they act like children because they're treated like children. Society itself is set up to treat them like children. Don't take my word for it, noted academics such as Dr. Robert Epstein agree that the teen brain is structurally no different than the adult brain, based on years of empirical findings. They are more than equipped to handle responsibilities in the world, the only thing that is really holding them in a state of regression are ageist and adult-centric policies.

Secondly, the link between "hormones" and "teen mood swings" and "temper tantrums" is unfounded and misleading. It has been shown time and time again that hormone levels affect the growth of biological processes (bone growth, hair growth, reproductive growth...etc.). The myth that these biological processes "necessitate" this period of "storm and stress" goes back to the opinions of G. Stanley Hall, one of the founders of psychology as a science in the United States well over 100 years ago. Since that time, we've learned a lot, and the whole field of psychology has changed.

More recent studies (although not the ones that make the front page of parenting tabloids), suggest teen mood disturbances may have more to do with the fact that they aren't getting enough sleep, because adult society works on a different clock than teens are biologically set for...naturally putting them at a disadvantage and in a state of grogginess. Hormones play as much a role in teen mood disturbances as they do in adults, but don't take my words for it, the facts are out there.

Why do we never hear of this explanation for teen misbehavior? It mainly has to do with the fact that it's easier to just "blame teen biology" for their behavioral problems than it is to reorient teen life (to go to school in the afternoon and stay up later) so that they're better able to function.

They're like "toddlers on steroids?"

Adults are name calling now? Who's supposed to be more mature?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Prosecuting Youth Sexuality

Should teens be locked up or registered as sex offenders for having safe and consensual sex with one another? A prosecutor by the name of Kym Worthy from Wayne County, Michigan doesn't think so, and is proposing that the age of consent law be changed to protect teenagers from "unnecessary prosecution." I saw this posted over on Moral Outrage today, the full story can be found here.
All it takes is one overzealous prosecutor to change a kid's fortunes forever.
Perhaps they ought to start thinking of doing something like this in Utah, where it may take a supreme court decision to come down on whether two teens having consensual sex was in fact an act of mutual statutory rape. According to the editorial, Michigan has one of the strictest "black and white" status crime laws when it comes to teenage sex. Young people need protections against rape and assault just as anyone does, but not to the extent that they can be jailed and put on sex offender registries for doing it consensually with one another.
Sex among minors is not ideal, but it happens. Michigan would be wise to carve out an exception for teenagers or give judges more discretion in dealing with this issue.
Parents there would do well to write Kym Worthy and let her hear your voice on this issue.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Smoking Pot in School

Young people make mistakes too. Apparently a 17-year-old student in Purdy, Washington smoked a joint during a presentation he was giving concerning the legalization of marijuana. His subsequent arrest may have made him a martyr, but it may not have been the wisest way of getting the message across. Regardless of where you fall on the issue of legalizing marijuana, I would hope we can agree that there is little active campaigning a student can do in jail.

This is not to say he was not a bright student, with a 3.7 GPA, it only means he probably should have known better. There are plenty of other (legal) ways to get the point across. One could argue that if the laws regarding marijuana possession and use weren't so draconian he wouldn't be in that predicament, but by all accounts, this was a school building he was doing it in, and certainly not a place to be lighting up, legal or not.
He then finished his essay, sat down, finished smoking the joint and then ate the end after it was fully smoked. The teacher of the class contacted the school resources officer, a Pierce County sheriff's deputy, who found a small residual amount of marijuana on the student, Troyer said.
The reason, in case you were wondering, this blog is called "Puerile Psyche" is to point out the rather immature, or "puerile" way society conducts itself with children and young people. Often society will do things for the supposed benefit of its children that are actually harmful or destructive to them, or go contrary to their own stated purposes.

The fact is young people are part of society, and they also do things against their own better interests. Sometimes these mistakes are not their fault, but are only mistakes because adults have deemed them illegal (any status crime law). And sometimes their mistakes can only be put down to the same all-too-human poor judgment.

I personally believe marijuana laws are far too restrictive when comparing the damage caused by many legal substances to that of pot, but there are more effective ways of getting the message across. This is not so much a youth issue, as it would be illegal for anyone to be found with pot in public, but certainly a useful bit a wisdom can be gained. Challenge authority, and don't do anything that'll keep you from challenging it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kid is Sex Offender AND Victim

It's downright paradoxical that a person can be both a victim and the perpetrator of the same crime, and simultaneously be charged with the crime and treated as the victim of it. Nonetheless, that is what can and does happen in the wacky world that is "status crime" offenses. Recently a 13-year-old girl in Ogden, Utah has been in such a paradox after having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. Utah law makes no mistake: sex with anyone under the age of 14 is prohibited, regardless of who's doing it. Her boyfriend also has been hit with the same paradoxical charge.

There comes a point where one has to wonder who these laws are attempting to target. Are they really meant to prohibit all sexual conduct with AND between young people, or are they meant to protect minors from "sexual predators?" As the law explicitly stands, it seems the former more than the later. So long as that is the case, we'll continue to see children and teens becoming registered as "sex offenders", and no one will do anything about it because "it doesn't happen often enough."

The worst part of this story seems to be that the court only found out about the incident after the girl became pregnant. In that predicament, she not only recieved little support as a "new mother," but was slapped with a conviction in juvenile court for "sexually abusing" her "underage boyfriend"--who also was hit with the same charge against her. She appealed this conviction back in 2004.
Her motion noted that for juveniles who are 16 and 17, having sex with others in their own age group does not qualify as a crime. Juveniles who are 14 or 15 and have sex with peers can be charged with unlawful conduct with a minor, but the law provides for mitigation when the age difference is less than four years, making the offense a misdemeanor. For adolescents under 14, though, there are no exceptions or mitigation and they are never considered capable of consenting to sex.
So essentially, the younger the kid is, the more severe the charge they receive if they have sex with kids their own age. Kids under 14 get charged with felonies, while kids over 14 get charged with misdemeanors so long as their victims/offenders are aged within 4 years of them. For kids aged 16 and 17, there is no crime. How does this serve to protect children--particularly younger kids? Doesn't it stand to reason that if a child can not be considered capable of having any sex (be it consensual or not), then they can't be held responsible for sexual "offenses?" The law in Utah is obviously designed to weigh the criminalization of the sexual exploitation of younger children more heavily but obviously wasn't intended to make the children themselves into criminals.

But do the courts listen to reason? Apparently not, and they denied her appeal with this decision, almost acknowledging the fact that their own laws don't make any sense and abiding by them anyway:
The Utah Court of Appeals last December upheld the judge's refusal to dismiss the allegation, saying the law's "rigorous protections" for younger minors include protecting them for each other.
Maybe she'll have better luck with the Supreme Court...but don't count on it. According to an assistant to the Utah Attorney General, "Matthew Bates," the statute is not unreasonable, and is DESIGNED to, and I quote: "the statute in question is designed to prevent sex with children who are 13 and younger, even if the other person is in the same age group." With this glaring admission, the last piece of the puzzle is in place. The Utah courts don't care about protecting children, they simply don't want children engaging in sexual acts with one another, consensual or not, and will go to any lengths to criminalize all those who do.
Randall Richards argued that prosecuting children under a law meant to protect them is illogical.
It's left up to the girl's attorney to be the sole voice of reason, but he's wrong on one count. By their own admission, the statute is NOT there to protect kids after all. It's there to prosecute them--in which case, it ceases being all that "illogical."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ball and Chain for Kids

This is not a joke. This is truly a "ball and chain" device designed to lock children into proper study habits so adults don't have to work too hard to teach them proper study habits to begin with. Well, perhaps that's going a bit overboard, because in reality it's just a silly little gadget with marketing that seems more geared to college students than parents. Any parent who'd think seriously about chaining their child up to this thing in the hopes that it'll teach their children better study habits has more than enough problems already.

The heavy ball (21 pounds) makes movement difficult, and the cuff only unlocks after a set period of time. Regardless of what it's original purpose is intended for, it can easily be imagined that parents could use this contraption as punishment for small children. I can just see a young child with one of those closed around the ankle, like a prisoner.

The maximum time it can be locked is four hours, which means parents can easily just "set it and forget it" and leave their child dragging around a ball and chain for hours until time's called. Could the imagery of "slavery" be applied to children and youths in an any more direct manner? There's not even an attempt to make this one covert. The message it drives home, to every kid that wears it, is that "you are submissive."

For parents who use it for what it's intended for, do they really want their children coming to recognize studying as a "slave task?"

The website says: "Quite often, students who are having problems concentrating tend to get up every ten minutes to watch TV, talk on the phone, take something out of the fridge, and a long list of other distractions.

"Were they to dedicate all this wasted time to studying, they would optimise their performance and have more free time available."

It's as if they took the "school-to-prison pipeline" literally! So many young people are getting arrested for minor crimes and non-crimes, getting criminal records earlier than ever. I suppose it was only a matter of time before they started making the schoolwork itself a prison, as if to prepare them for such a bright future. Seriously though, children can be taught more effective study habits by parents who double as good teachers. Parenting shouldn't be entrusted to a timer on a ball and chain.