More problem kids than 50 years ago, study suggests

The Vanier Institute for the Family has suggested that there are a lot more ‘problem children’ than there were 50 years ago, and the blame goes to… everyone.

The finger of blame points at everyone: parents, schools, neighbourhoods and the media, said the author of the study, Anne-Marie Ambert, a professor of sociology who recently retired from York University in Toronto. “In the past, parents used to receive the support of their neighbours,” she said.

But now, she observed, people are often afraid to intervene if they see children or teens misbehaving in the neighbourhood or at the mall.

Problem behaviour on the rise includes acts that hurt others, lying, bullying, fighting, theft, and vandalism.

“The conclusion you reach (after looking at all the research) is that we have a global environment which favours all of this,” said Ambert, adding that children and teens are being raised in an “enabling environment.”

The reasons? Parents are less available for their children, schools and neighbourhoods are no longer strong communities, there is less emphasis on religion, there’s a rise in single-parent families, and there’s more access to ‘visual media’ – exposure to violence and other disrupting influences via the TV and Internet.