Children's Behavior: A Decade of Decline

The landscape of children's behavior has undergone a discernible shift, with a prevailing sentiment that the conduct of today's youth is more troubling than it was a decade ago. Reports saturate the media, detailing increased aggression, drug use, and premature engagement in premarital sex among children. Girls as young as 15 are now sexually active, with alarming consequences such as a surge in illegal abortions and tragic deaths. This essay aims to explore the reasons behind the observed decline in children's discipline, spotlighting a crucial factor at its core: parental laxity.

Parental Laxity as the Core Issue

Delving into the crux of the matter, parental laxity emerges as a significant contributor to the deterioration of children's discipline. The foundational role of the family in primary socialization, as asserted by sociologists like Schultz (2012), has been denigrated. Primary socialization occurs during a child's formative years, shaped by observing and learning from immediate family members. However, a lamentable aspect of the present era is the apparent absence of parents in fulfilling this pivotal process (Richardson, n.

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Denigration of the Family Institution

Further complicating matters is the siege on the institution of the family in the United States. Broken families and the agony of living apart from either parent have become commonplace, leaving children without the attention and guidance they desperately need. Parents, seemingly preoccupied or absent, have failed to prepare their children for navigating a society that increasingly questions authority. This shift, often championed under the banner of "personal independence," poses a challenge that demands nuanced solutions (Children, n.

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Societal Questioning of Authority

Indeed, the Generation Y is confronted with a call for "Generation Why?" in a world where questioning authority has reached unprecedented levels. The dynamics of this societal change, as experts suggest, reflect a shifting view of authority and authority figures. The scrutiny faced by professionals such as lawyers, bankers, and politicians is unparalleled compared to a decade ago (Children, n.d). This necessitates an urgent need for imparting values of personal independence without undermining the importance of respect.

Schools' Limited Role

While parents have entrusted schools with the responsibility of nurturing their children, the educational institutions have fallen short in shaping not only intellectual acumen but also moral character. Teachers, grappling with a surge in problematic behavior, find themselves ill-equipped to fulfill a role that extends beyond academic achievement. The increasing number of problem children, even in younger age groups, has made teaching a more challenging profession (Schultz, 2012).

Media Influence

As parents recede from their roles, the media rushes in to fill the void, assuming the position of inadvertent mentors. Today's youth often looks up to movie superstars, rappers, divas, and various media personalities as their role models. Unfortunately, the influence of these figures is not always conducive to the well-being of children (The Australian Psychology Society, n.d).

Proliferation of Violent Media

A critical aspect of this media influence is the proliferation of violent and sexually explicit content. Media personalities, driven primarily by financial motives, may inadvertently shape the behavior of children who idolize them. Movies, a significant source of media content, often depict violence and explicit themes, with known adverse effects on child behavior (The Australian Psychological Society, n.d; Center on Media and Child Health).

Despite arguments from movie creators about reflecting reality, the crux of the issue lies in parental laxity. Parents must reclaim their lost glory as the primary disciplinarians and mentors of their children. Attempts to delegate these critical obligations to schools have proven disastrous, contributing to the worsening behavior observed in children today.

Impact on Family as the Source of Socialization

The ramifications of parental negligence extend beyond individual families to the broader institution of the family as the source of primary socialization. Immediate family members, historically instrumental in a child's socialization, are losing their influence. This vacuum is increasingly filled by schools and, where schools fall short, the media.

Schools' Limited Focus

Schools, in their fervent pursuit of academic excellence, frequently shift the onus of shaping children's character back onto parents. The dominant narrative prioritizes achieving high test scores and securing good grades, relegating moral development to the sidelines. The teaching profession finds itself wrestling with the formidable challenge of navigating through issues such as inappropriate language, disobedience, and a pervasive lack of direction among students (Schultz, 2012). Despite the noble goal of academic achievement, schools grapple with the increasingly complex task of instilling values and guiding students toward responsible behavior, as these issues become more pronounced in modern educational settings.

Societal Reminders

Remarkably, there have been no concerted efforts by parents or society at large to remind children that personal independence is not incompatible with parental and societal involvement. As we navigate the complexities of modern society, it is essential to underscore the importance of a collective approach to personal development.

"We don't want or need any more tourists, and we certainly don't like them. If you want to help our cause, pass this message on to your friends" (Trask, 1993).

In conclusion, the observed decline in children's behavior over the past decade is a multifaceted issue. While various factors contribute to this trend, parental laxity stands out as a central and overarching cause. As parents reevaluate their roles as disciplinarians and mentors, society at large must recognize the importance of fostering personal independence without sacrificing the values of respect and discipline. Only through collective efforts can we navigate the challenges posed by societal changes and ensure the holistic development of our youth.

Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Keep in mind: this is only a sample!
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Cite this page

Children's Behavior: A Decade of Decline. (2016, Apr 16). Retrieved from

Children's Behavior: A Decade of Decline essay
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