Significant changes in young peoples’ outlook on life and the media’s outlook on young people had serious lasting consequences. Trendy clothing for the newly-christened “teenagers” in the 1950’s laid the foundation for today’s practice of tossing all modesty to the wind. Skirts began to get shorter as the popular poodle skirt made its debut, girls’ shirts became tighter in order to show off their feminine contours, and some fashionable boys’ clothes shot up to three-figure amounts. The initial general disgust for fast, touchy-feely dances evolved into wild popularity as rock ‘n roll stepped into the scene. Singers and movie stars enjoyed popularity as more people idolized celebrities than ever before. Elvis Presley, popular even today, shocked and fascinated viewers with his suggestive dances, and meaningless romantic songs flooded the airwaves. Dating, which had begun in the nineteen-twenties as (believe it or not), a parent-mediated event to keep young adults out of trouble hurtled into a casual, parent-free “romantic” sport. Teenagers were informed by the media, their peers, and even many adults that they were misunderstood individuals who ought to be independent, irresponsible, and live for fun. Society became blind to the inescapable fact that the youths of the present are the leaders of the future. The erosion of morality in the adults of the ‘60s and 70’s was a direct result of the rebellion that was encouraged in the ‘50s and our twenty-first century culture still suffers from the repercussions of that era.
In the early 20th century and centuries before, the idea of “teenagers” did not exist. Those individuals between the ages of twelve and twenty were considered “youths” or “young adults”. They took responsibility for large portions of the household duties, took life seriously, treated school as a privilege and an opportunity, and showed respect to their elders. As a result, our culture was a healthy, proactive, successful society. I have often wondered: how did so many people graduate college before age seventeen? Why are young people in other countries fluent in two, three, four, or even five different languages? Why is it that so many women of years past married before their eighteenth birthdays, and yet were so much more adept at managing a household and a marriage than most women in their late twenties are today? The answer is how they lived life in their teen years. When young people had high standards and responsibility, our society received capable adults.
If you believe I am overreacting, if you have bought into the ideology that “teens will be teens”, please reconsider your views. Look at the statistics! Although poverty levels in the early 2000’s (it has taken a leap since 2008) were lower than they were before the 1950’s (www.census.gov), the crime level has risen significantly (http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm )! I am convinced that the dramatic increase in crime is directly linked with the irresponsibility that is encouraged and the disrespect and misbehavior that are allowed to go on with teenagers. I have heard the phrase “teens will be teens” countless times. Allow me to disagree! I am ashamed that such a negative word as “teenager” must stigmatize every person of my age. Young people can adopt the behavioral patterns of “teens”, but only if there are trained to do so by this perverse culture and their parents. If children are not allowed to behave in a disrespectful manner, they will not grow up to be disrespectful “teenagers”, and ultimately disrespectful adults who, very often, are useless to society and the
Dear friend, how can you and I escape becoming entrapped this swirling vortex of self-destruction? How can we live our lives now in a way that will benefit us, and those around us, in the future? The answer is simple. We must live out our faith is a vibrant way. We must take responsibility for our lives and for our actions. We must begin to take life seriously and pull away from the destructive attitudes of our culture.
~Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world…”~