An Abandoned Generation: Loss Of Values In Society, Homes And Schools
The devaluation of America’s cultural decency, the increase in fatherless homes and the steady decline in academic performance is now spiraling out of control. My generation has witnessed general apathy among parents, schools and politicians for several decades. Loss of values in our country is a very real phenomenon and the not-so-subtle enemy of many of our societal problems. Our schools are not immune. These “values” are not to be narrowly interpreted as solely religious values or strict adherence to a specific moral code. This term is intended to be applied in a broader sense. This includes the basic values of belief in God (despite secularists’ claims, America was founded on Judeo-Christian values), respect for other especially authority, honesty, non-violence, the treatment of females, avoidance of foul language whether in speech or music and a strong work ethic. Though an individual can maintain and teach generally good values to their children without the benefit of church or some religious training it is important to include here the decline in our country’s church attendance and membership. In the 2010 U. S. Census the population was approximately 309 million. How many Americans were church members? This number was just over 150 million or 48.8%. One measure of the decline in church strength and authority is membership and attendance. And by that measure the U.S. secularity is rising to surprising heights.
Millions of children in our country are victims of this lost generation. Alabama is no exception to this problem in homes across the state. In a 2003 study I conducted (published in the Birmingham News) the Jefferson County, Alabama Health Department birth statistics for Birmingham were chilling. In 2002 71% of all black births in Birmingham were to unwed mothers! Unfortunately, these children will be at a higher risk for academic failure, victims of violence, and criminal behavior. The study found that 70% of juveniles incarcerated in Alabama Juvenile Detention system are from homes with absent fathers.
Coupled with these statistics are conditions which exacerbate circumstances of our youth include a lack of controlled after-school behavior, violence-filled media from many sources, a cultural climate of violence and an dearth of value-based parental influence. The home conditions, parental negligence and a steady bombardment of negative peer influence invade our schools with children who are victims themselves of this valueless culture. They act out what they learn at home and in their neighborhood. Thus, we deal with a generation of youth which, in far too many circumstances, perpetuate the new valueless culture.
Hence, school violence, violent crime in homes, in the streets and in cities continues to spread. The lack of respect for human life and for authority once taught in the home is now acted out daily by students who assault one another and their teachers. According to the Alabama Criminal Justice (ACJIC) Information Center, aggravated assaults in schools rose at an alarming rate from 2000 to 2011. In a 2013 release of a school crime report the ACJIC reported that in 2011 six acts of violence occurred daily in Alabama schools. These are: Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault and Simple Assault. Nationally, in a 2008 study 5% of teachers were attacked by students, which was the highest percentage on record. Let it be clear: Despite the good efforts by law enforcement and school officials no school and no community is immune from serious violence. Law enforcement should not replace the authority of school officials to enforce school codes of behavior.
Certainly, not all schools or schools districts are afflicted with the debilitating conditions and dangers facing today’s children and teenagers. Neither are they immune. Some public school districts have involved and dedicated parents, maintain strict adherence to good behavior, insure academic rigor and produce the best and brightest. Many private schools offer high academic standards and prepare student for college and/or careers. However, those have become exceptions to the thousands of school districts which have allowed schools to deteriorate in every category to include behavior, discipline, effective learning, and excellence in academic achievement to prepare students for success beyond high school. There are many reasons why we as a country, state, a local school district and parents have abandoned this generation of children and those which follow.
The new tolerance which is taught in various ways in our schools undermines traditional Judeo-Christian values as the unpinning of American principles. Tolerance has become acceptance and often replaces what have been religious and family values to new beliefs and values. Jesus taught tolerance, but not at the expense of truth!
Perhaps the most recent attack on this generation of our children is the federal takeover of our children’s minds and education. This is known as Common Core. Despite what state leaders say, this is federal takeover of local education with only 15% of input of state-based curriculum. Once the federal government dictates curriculum, the assessments of knowledge and modifies history to omit and distort long-held facts which make our county exceptional it will control our students’ minds and behavior. They become victims of the ethics and values of liberal, secular bureaucrats.
David Nichols, Ed. D., is a veteran leader in education at all level and in law enforcement. He has served as a teacher at from elementary school through graduate school, a speaker at conferences and association meeting, school leaders, teachers, law enforcement officials and an instructor of Criminal Justice and Education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Nichols has published widely on both education and criminal justice topics and consulted with schools and police agencies.