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The Infantilization of Teenagers
written on May 24th, 2002
Last night, I was watching "Whatever It Takes: A Child's Last Chance, a Primetime Special". A group of "troubled youth" were put into a program by their parents who felt distanced from them. To prevent the teens from running away, they were abducted during the night from their beds and taken to the middle of the woods, where their flashlights were promptly confiscated so that no one would find their way back. There, they were subjected to 21 days of "therapeutic" hardships and oppression. The stated goal was to save the teens and to help them make the right choices for their lives (those being their parents' choices). The real goal was to subject them to enough hardships that they'll say, "I want to go back home. I'd rather put up with my screaming mother." It was a psychological game filled with "counseling" and "time to reflect". Bye the end, were it successful, the teens would realize that their parents control them and are not to be defied.

The show was filled with terms like "my baby", "kids", and (a new one) "teenage child". One mother said that it was worth having her son hate her to "help him". Like most adults she gains a sense of power when she punishes her son. Mothers are struggling to keep their offspring "children" as long as possible to keep them under their "protection" (control). Adults have so much power over "young people", all in the name of "child safety". What the "troubled youth" don't want is to be told how to live their lives. They want freedom; to be free to experience what they can't because of their masters. Adults are very fearful of "loosing their rights", but they care nothing for their children's rights because it would undermine their own.

Not surprisingly, the seventeen year old (the eldest teen) was being the most defiant, expressing opinions and a will. Like the others, he felt betrayed. He expressed how adults tell teens that they're stupid. However, expressing that only reaffirmed the adults' view that he was "troubled". He wanted to "be free to make even bad choices." As teens, they are forbidden from responsibility. If given responsibility, the teens would be able to manage their lives. Responsibility would give them something to do and a sense of purpose. Adults remove responsibility by shielding them from responsibility. A hundred years ago, twelve year olds were given responsibility and that made them responsible. Today, teens have nothing to do but obey their parent's whims. That's why they fight with their parents. It frustrates them because they are naturally becoming more independent, but their parents want to stop that process.

Of course, the show had an add for the program at the end, just in case other parents wish to enroll their teens (after all, the law says they own them). The media, through shows like this one, help to feed the propaganda. Yet, the teens will simply be scared to speak out because they don't want to have to go through that again. They will still be distanced from their parents and will still have fights with them because they didn't solve anything. Keeping Jews in concentration camps didn't convince them that the Germans were superior. Exercising power in an oppressive way only makes people feel more defiant. Until the infantilization of teenagers end, we won't solve anything. Things will only get worse.

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