The Youth are Starting to Change

In the face of asinine, narrow-minded, alienating legislation, the youth are starting to mobilize.

By Chris Erl
Published February 27, 2010

Among the contagious synthesized melodies and Lady Gaga-esque outrageous behaviour, Bostonian electro-dance-pop duo MGMT have a message they want to present. It is small, subdued and succinctly put in their song "The Youth".

The youth is starting to change
Are you starting to change?
Are you?

Modern society looks to the youth of today and definitely agrees with MGMT, poor grammar aside. 'The youth are starting to change, aren't they?' they whisper, with a slight tone of disapproval.

Personal experience can attest to their discontentment: I have a penchant for rather unwieldy hair, nouveau révolutionnarie goatees and the habit of delving into modern youth language (youthspeak, FTW!). Each of these traits have been criticized by older members of our community, always carefully followed by the ever stereotypical "In my day..."

I apologize for my angst-filled digression, but I promise it leads to my point. Maverick Toronto councillor George Mammoliti recently announced he would be seeking the mayoralty of that city, after fully abandoning his New Democratic philosophy and gaining an inclination for unnecessary antics.

At his $250-a-plate fundraiser on February 25, Mammoliti outlined his policy to an anxious crowd. The highlights were what he will undoubtedly be using as his central campaign pillars: no property tax for seniors making under $65,000, plowing sidewalks throughout the city, and cutting the size of Toronto's bureaucracy. All salt-of-the-earth, hardworking, populist-conservative points.

One point stood out as more authoritarian than most. It was quickly pushed aside amidst talk of low taxes and small bureaucracy, but it was still mentioned: he plans to implement a curfew of 11:00 PM for all children under 14.

As his platform was carefully laid out for his supporters, it quickly became apparent that he would be the anti-youth candidate. They can't vote, so they don't matter.

Discrimination Against Youth

Students and young citizens across the province have been facing systemic discrimination for years. Some cities value students, while others regard them with distaste and repulsion. Oshawa falls in the second camp, conducting student-housing raids in 2007, repeatedly voting on the same motion to enforce by-laws monitoring student homes and limiting the number of students who can live within a certain distance of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Here in Hamilton, Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina called McMaster University an "unwieldy leviathan ruining everything around it". This set off a lively debate over the value of McMaster as a school and its students as members of the community.

The exclusionary nature of the Ainslie Wood/Westdale Community Association of Resident Homeowners, the recent talk of Oshawa-style housing by-laws, the "War on Graffiti" (which places the blame squarely on youth), or the obscene youth curfew in Haldimand County...

Each of these examples point to one simple concept: alienation.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Youth are being alienated from greater society thanks in part to the cult of now, coupled with complete abandonment of Socratic questioning. The issue has become 'kids are a problem so what are we going to do about them RIGHT NOW?' rather than 'why have kids begun acting in this way, what can we do to help the situation, what ramifications will it have on the future?'.

No emphasis is put on the past and the circumstances that led to the current state of affairs. If kids are engaging in petty theft, fights and vandalism, the first question should be 'why?'. This will bring into question the quality of schools, educational methods, support for child welfare, the structure of the family unit, the morals and values children are picking up.

More succinctly, it would get to the root of the problem.

Furthermore, little regard is given to the future. Curfews are in place, restrictions are implemented on the sale of items used in vandalism, extensive monitoring networks are established in student areas and their movement and activities are severely restricted. The question is: 'what of the future?'.

Will students remain in a city that so dispossessed them during their school years? Will youth push back harder against a wall of oppression? Will young citizens become so incredibly bitter and disconnected from the political system that they refuse to participate in it when given the chance?

Watch Out, Anti-Youth Candidates

I will present this word of caution to any Hamiltonian municipal candidate who attempts to ride the mythical anti-youth wave into office:

In the face of asinine, narrow-minded, alienating legislation, the youth are starting to mobilize. In Ancaster-Dundas-Flambrough-Westdale, recent McMaster grad Alex Johnstone will be carrying the New Democrat torch in the upcoming federal election.

Voter turnout in this year's McMaster Student's Union elections was up 75% from last year and students are becoming more and more frustrated at what can only be called anti-student sentiment at City Hall.

The initiator of so many anti-student by-laws in Oshawa, John Neal, is facing a potential student backlash as the president of the local student association is being encouraged to stand against him in October's municipal elections.

Watch out, anti-student candidates. We will be scrutinizing you, employing the beautiful art of Socratic questioning. You know what we will be asking.

The youth is starting to change
Are you starting to change?
Are you?

Chris Erl, a born and raised Hamiltonian, has wanted to change the world ever since becoming the Westwood Elementary School Chief Returning Officer in Grade 5. After receiving both a B.A. (Honours) and M.A. from McMaster, Chris decided to purse his passion and study urban planning.

In addition to serving on the City of Hamilton’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, Chris is also a registered candidate for Public School Board trustee in Wards 1 & 2.


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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 13:17:37

Interesting piece...except that for these eyes, there's little insight being offered. 'Youth' has always been so regarded, going back at least as far as the 'invention' of the teenager. (No, it's not as old a concept as most everyone wants to believe.) But then each generation wants to believe that it's the most beleaguered ever, that it's got the most credence where being aggrieved and mistreated is concerned. The 50s, 60s, 70s surely all had their own manifestations of what's being presented here in this editorial; generational 'alienation' seems to be something handed down just as surely as genetic traits are.

My, oh my; where would we be without all this angst...?

As for Mac, here's a recently offered quote regarding the university and its relation to the downtown: "I do think it stinks that McMaster has made no investment at all in downtown Hamilton, apart from that dollar-a-year lease of the old courthouse. The health and image of Hamilton should be important to Mac, in terms of attracting students and profs, but they've shown zero commitment to the core so far."

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2010 at 14:11:19

'Youth' has always been so regarded, going back at least as far as the 'invention' of the teenager.

Or perhaps even further than that:

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint."-- Attributed to Hesiod, Greek poet, approx 700 BC

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 14:19:07

"When I was young, I couldn't believe how stupid my parents were. As I got older, I was amazed at how much smarter they'd gotten."


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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2010 at 14:29:38

Will students remain in a city that so dispossessed them during their school years?

When I was looking for the source of the quote I put up in my previous comment, I came across an article in the Guardian, by Rowan Williams, that I think speaks about some of the same concerns that Chris Erl has written about. Archbishop Williams writes about young people (perhaps those whose circumstances don't allow them to be as engaged in local politics or as potentially mobile as university and college grads) turning away from unwelcoming public spaces to stay indoors instead:

If the world comes to be seen as territory where the casual presence of the young is not welcome, it is not surprising that the indoor, electronic world is more attractive.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-02-27 13:31:21

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 14:44:03

I come from a customer service background. Even were I to ignore the years I've spent as a writer, either providing 'service' in either an entertainment, or 'irritant' sense, most of my life has been spent in the general arena where 'relationships' rule.

To wit: having a positive attitude towards your customer/client almost always brings on a better reaction from this person...which leads to a better experience for all. Repetition of this 'call and response' mechanism means that you're more inclined to conduct yourself this way. It also means that customer/clients who are treated this way tend to come to the table with a better attitude, therefore contributing to the process in an equally beneficent way; everyone wins. (Are you listening, TTC...?)

So; as much as I applaud Archbishop Williams for his comments...I do recall reading them when they were issued...I'm inclined (granted, in a perfunctory way) to point out that it takes two to tango. There's been nothing I can recall over my time on this planet that serves as a greater barrier on the part of 'youth' to engagement with the big, bad world than personal entertainment devices, ie iPods. So if it's true that 'the indoor, electronic world is more attractive', then I'd proffer this suggestion to the 'dispossessed' youth: be proactive and rather than whinging, rather than railing against supposed barriers with ones of your own, get real, get personal...and take the damned buds out of your ears. After all, you can't have it both ways.

Yours in youthful rebellion...

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By al rathbone (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 14:53:50

The only curfew I would support is on children 16 and under out past 11:00 WITHOUT adult supervision. Sorry, even though I'm 19, I have to agree that parents shouldn't be letting their young children roam the streets alone at night. It's not safe for the kids. Plus can you think of a legitimate reason for someone under 16 to be out that late without their parents?

On the other hand, outside of that arena I agree with you on many point. We DO need to get to the root of why kids are behaving badly. It's not because of substandard schools. It's absentee parents, the constant babying of children when the parents are around, and the lack of anything interesting to do for someone under 19 after about 8 at night unless you want to pay an arm and a leg to go to a movie.

Community and religious groups need to step up like they did in the old days and provide enjoyable and safe activities for teenagers to go to in the evenings and on weekends. Parents also have to step up, discipline their kids, know where their kids are, and not shelter their kids from life.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2010 at 16:11:45

Community and religious groups need to step up like they did in the old days and provide enjoyable and safe activities for teenagers to go to in the evenings and on weekends. Parents also have to step up, discipline their kids, know where their kids are, and not shelter their kids from life.

Exactly. And, as I've argued elsewhere, they need to be able to get there safely, and independently, on foot, on bike, or by public transit.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 16:28:52

Understanding that the world has changed over the past four, five decades, that the demands of modern life are so different from back then, I wonder if the primary solution to this 'problem' is for there to be an honest reassessment of why people have children.

Negative influences family-wise have been in play for the aforementioned forty, fifty years. (Not that there's really ever been an 'ideal' time in our history, as the field has constantly been well as the goalposts moving...) Longer commutes. The need (as pitted against our value system's requirements) for each household to have two-incomes. The general trend away from traditional nuclear families. The greater input/impact of the outside world. All of these elements have effected additional pressures. And yet we (unconsciously?) maintain the same mindset regarding having kids.

Is it possible that this too, needs to undergo some shifting? What validates peoples' lives now isn't exactly the same as what validated our parents' or grandparents' lives. Priorities have shifted. Urges have shifted. Options have multiplied.

How big a leap is it for people to ask themselves whether having children is really something they should be doing? How many people really should be having children these days, given how many aren't really doing justice to the endeavour? (I'll willingly disclose that I believe parenthood to be the highest calling possible...and I'm not just talking about procreating here, but active parenting, an-equal-in-importance job to your actual career...and that many people either aren't cut out for it, or simply are not capable of handling the responsibility, given what's at stake.)

I realize that I've veered the conversation (yet again), but to me, this particular discussion impacts more on the quality of 'the lives of Youth' than any other variable; if you're not absolutely dedicated to a task, you're not going to be able to deliver dedicated results.

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By Chris Farias (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 16:59:38

You made a good point Al, "parents shouldn't be letting their young children roam the streets alone at night" I agree. But It's not the gov. responsibility to manage this. Maybe the curfew should be put on parents too. If you decided to have a child, you need to be responsible for it. It takes a city to raise a child, but it takes a parent to control that child.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 18:04:17

"It takes a city to raise a child, but it takes a parent to control that child."

No offense, but a) that quote is wrong (a 'village' isn't a 'city', so the connotation is way off), and b) the very notion that we're talking about 'controlling' children dooms the discussion from the get-go. Children aren't potential problems to be 'controlled'. Not wanting to get all mushy here, but they're gifts that we have the responsibility as parents (and as fellow villagers) to nurture, unformed people towards whose development we should all feel a commitment to contribute whatever we're capable of. (Yes, I'm speaking in very broad terms here.)

(As a side-note, just about all of the core issues currently being commented on at RTH are inextricably connected. Community...quality of living...transit...families...heritage...humanity. And I can't stress how important it is to understand and appreciate those connections. Because attempting to address one without respecting the others- Well, that's how major debacles come to be.)

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 21:24:34

Ah, to be young and idealistic again.

I don't disagree with anything the writer has said, but the reality is young people do not get involved in large numbers with community issues. Just look at the voting statistics when it comes to young people. Until the young start working and begin to raise families of their own, voting and politics have no real meaning.

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By beesplease (registered) | Posted February 27, 2010 at 22:14:39

Actually, 'youth' is a funny collective noun that permits the use of a plural or a singular verb, unless the group is countable - but perhaps that's for another day. You could use 'young people' and avoid the whole debate.

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By C. Erl (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2010 at 22:20:27

Hey everyone!

Great discussion, and I like some of the points the article has brought up.

First and foremost, (you are free to agree or disagree) I try very hard to not be an angst-filled person. Angst, according to the language of my ancestral homeland, means fear...but it has come to mean anxiety for the future. The future is very bright, even if certain politicians attempt to stall change and circumvent progress.

My generation is no more oppressed than the ones previous, but hopefully more so than the ones to come. What differs is that we have amazingly extensive access to technology, whereas past generations were severely limited in their ways to connect.

Despite this, we should not take the moniker of uniformity and use it as the foundation on which we build the excuses concerning our lack of action on our oppressed state!

I will agree with the point about youth needing to vote more often and in greater numbers, but the issue is that many youth are, quite frankly, displeased with the very nature of representative government and the recycled campaigns being presented to us with the catchphrase "This time will be different!"

We need to see brand new ideas, a willingness to include us in the political system and considerably less of the divisional politics of yesterday. If modern politicians want us to come out and vote, they need to start thinking about the ideas for a new crowd.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 27, 2010 at 23:13:06

Chris-- this is why I love RTH-- dialogue, dialogue, dialogue! I find that, as a parent (and two of our kids are also at Mac), I tend to be sympathetic to the hopes and dreams of the young people I encounter, yourself included-- and I mean that with no condescension at all, but actually with a certain degree of deference to their greater energy and in some areas more up-to-date knowledge than my own. The young people I know through our own kids are all hard-working, with very definite ideas of the kind of world they'd like to live in. Sure, they've got their faults, some borne of their relative youth, but don't we all have our faults, some borne of our own stages in life?

What differs is that we have amazingly extensive access to technology, whereas past generations were severely limited in their ways to connect.

It's true that technology is an amazing tool in many ways. However, it, too, has its own severe limitations as a way to connect with others. I would call it simply one way among many that can be very efficient depending on your needs.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2010 at 01:45:19

If such statistics prove anything, it's that "youth crime" has been on a general downward trend for years. They might also note that young people often get longer sentences than adults. But of course, that wouldn't make for good sensational news.

McMaster has over 20 000 students. If there weren't a hundred drunk and belligerent out over a month (which would be 0.5% of the total), there'd be something wrong. And yet, even over the course of the night all over the western city, it's easy to see how that would paint a picture of a wild and unruly age group as a whole.

It's easy to see kids as foolish and uninspired when you don't take the time to listen to or understand them. And it's easy to see them as rude and disrespectful when you constantly talk down to them. Being rebellious and rejecting one's former caretakers is a crucial part of growing up and becoming one's own person.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2010 at 03:56:23

I'm sure I could add a ton of intelligent stuff to this discussion, but now you've got MGMT crowding out all those other thoughts.

So I'll just add in a few thoughts.

I dig Robert Epstein, the Myth of the Teenage Brain, and the End of Adolescence.

Mike Males is a bit vitriolic sometimes, but Framing Youth and the Scapegoat Generation are also good reads for American stats and myths.

And post one link:

I like this question: Are teens today inherently less capable than they were in previous generations, or have we just lowered expectations to the point where they're incapable of demonstrating this kind of competence?

However - I do not think the job of churches and community organizations is mostly to provide recreational activities. I speak that as a youth pastor. Mentoring and teaching, certainly, but recreation alone accomplishes relatively little and can even be dis-empowering.

These organizations used to have youth activities and programs run BY the youth themselves. It was only in the past several decades that it became adult-run, and only in the past three to five decades a lot of it has been professionalized. In these arenas, further empowerment or disempowerment can happen - which will it be? I am pretty sure empowerment and entrusting with responsibility is more productive.

Then again, we live in a society where people (literally) gasp and remark rudely upon learning that I am 24 and I have been married for 4 years, or that I left home at 18 in spite of having perfectly lovely parents, or that I always paid my own way with school and other expenses. All perfectly normal and adult activities... but our norm has become rather warped, at least in my experience.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2010 at 09:28:12

Then again, we live in a society where people (literally) gasp and remark rudely upon learning that I am 24 and I have been married for 4 years, or that I left home at 18 in spite of having perfectly lovely parents, or that I always paid my own way with school and other expenses.

From one early marrier (22) to another: One of the rude remarks that I've received when people learn how many children we've got is the admonishment "Well, it's going to be very expensive to pay for all that university..." The response they get from me is that they'll be paying for it themselves, with scholarships and loans and part-time jobs, and they're welcome to live at home if they don't want to pay for residence-- and it's not that uncommon, a lot of their friends do, too. Still, parents paying the way of 20 year-olds seems to be the norm among the middle class.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-02-28 08:28:27

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted February 28, 2010 at 15:11:18

C. Erl

If you as a young person wants to get involved in the political process there is opportunity to do so. Get involved with community groups or join a political party.

When I was 16 I joined the NDP, by the time I was 19 I president of the riding association. We had an MP and MPP representing the riding for the party. I remained in that position for 8 years. Now I am not saying you will be lucky enough to become that engaged as soon as I was able to. But the opportunity is there. It's just a matter of making use of the opportunities available.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted February 28, 2010 at 18:15:48

An interesting discussion. imho, it is society that is the problem and youth the solution.

Perhaps the saddest thing is to see young people assimilate into a society that is egocentric and self righteous. SOme youth see this and behave accordingly, but you can't really blame them. Occasionally, youth reject this reality and here's where we can learn a lot from them.

Youth are biologically biased to act selfishly relative to adults who have more emotional control and frontal lobe development. So when the situation is backward, and youth are the ones acting altruistically, you know society is f'd.

What are youth to think in a city where cars are worshiped gods, bikes are pestilence, off leash dogs are evil, and leaf blowers entirely legal?

I tried to argue something like this concept in an earlier essay

Recently I went back to school and saw some of the brightest students, already picked as 'leaders' succumb to this. becoming a 'leader' in current parlance means towing the traditional line, e.g. in engineering becoming a slut of industry and money.

Real leaders will be the youth who question the very basis of society and reveal inconsistencies. What we need is both young agitators and a few old guys willing to stand up and say, yeah, the youth are right on and it's us who are morally bankrupt.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2010 at 18:54:38

I agree with Meredith here. It isn't just about kids having something to do, it's about kids being able do things - and that means being able to run them, not just show up and follow rules.

A father used to be able to go shooting with his son (or daughter), and that made sense when you were more scared that he might get ambushed by a cougar than that he might join a gang. Nowadays kids can't use many power tools at their high-school co-ops, and most big named karate clubs won't even let students spar for insurance reasons. We've torn out more playgrounds than we can count over the last decade because they were unsafe, virtually no urban space is free of "no skateboarding or ball-playing" signs because of liability reasons. Kids remain kids now longer than ever these days, but we won't let them do any of the things we used to.

Political action can be an amazing opportunity for young people - I did it all too - but it's important that they're involved and not just tokens. If there's one thing everyone wanted it was some "youth" to show off (political parties always had beer for us), but only about one in ten of them was willing to actually listen to what we had to say (though those who did have been friends since). Though the NDP youth were a truly swingin' group of folks, the central party caucus was notorious for over-ruling us and even at one point replaced our representative with a man in his 40s.

Treat youth like adults and they'll act like adults. Treat adults like children, and they'll act like children.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted February 28, 2010 at 21:46:25

Ted Mitchell - I'd take a look at the Myth of the Teenage Brain. A lot of the research is incredibly overhyped and overblown (tiny sample sizes, studies not proving what TIME or the like says they do). Other parts of brain development continue till one's 40s - it's a continuum, not a defined cutoff of maturity.

That said, I find little value in talking about "This generation's gonna be the change we need" and more value in what you're talking about - those of different ages changing things. Sure, younger folk to say they'll stand up... but also those in authority and power to be willing to make drastic changes at the expense of their own careers, perhaps.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-02-28 20:51:51

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By Webster (registered) - website | Posted March 01, 2010 at 05:49:02

The Youth Are starting to Change? The Youth Is Starting to Change?

"I believe in the power of you and I?" "I believe in the power of you and me?" from "I Believe", the Olympic song.

Who checks grammar and word usage on RTH?

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted March 01, 2010 at 11:05:28

An important aspect of how we can get youth engaged is to look at how their experiences are different from earlier generations. Here's what I believe has changed in recent years:

  • Lack of open spaces. 20-30 years ago kids (that would be me back then) used to run wild in the local woods and fields. These days for suburban and city dwellers, most of these open spaces are used up. What have we lost because of this? I used to run around unattended all day. I built dens, rode my bike, joined gangs - I got exercise, fresh air and the odd ticking off from my neighbours. My kids stay indoors most days, unless I can be bothered to drive them somewhere...
  • Lack of safe play areas - the prevelance of the car, fear over child abductions, societal pressures, loss of imaginative play areas - all of these factors have resulted in less unsupervised outdoor play for our kids. What is the impact of this?
  • More mollycoddling - perhaps as a result of 1 and 2 above, parents are now more inclined to cotton wool their kids and control large aspects of their lives. How does this affect their independent thinking and self-esteem?
  • Lack of parental involvement - Both parents today are generally working, or divorcing. How does this affect our kids? Broken families is possibly the single most disrupting factor for a child's well-being.
  • Less 'real' jobs - what are our kids training for these days? A cubicle exisitence working on spreadsheets all day? A crappy McJob? Years ago, despite the poor working conditions and low pay associated with many 'real' jobs, kids aspired to make things, build things, fix things. These days such jobs are looked upon as menial and many of the benefits associated with them have gone. If our local industry is not about producing anything real and doesn't bring any pride, what affect does this have?
    • Less community - Parents working 2 jobs, neighbourhoods built for the car, less kids on the street - many factors have contributed to our loss of community. When I was a kid the village really did raise me. But you have to be out and about in the village in order to get that upbringing. Modern 'comunities' are not neighbourhood based. They are disperate, shaped by involvement with physically seperated institutions such as churches, sports teams, schools. These days most instruction and guidance is provided by the parents. If the parents are rarely around or not up to the job, the kid suffers. This was not so pronounced a couple of generations ago.

Of course there are many aspects today which are better. I believe that kids today are more included to go through further education. They will probably live longer etc.

Another factor in this discussion is poverty. The poverty divide in earlier generations was not as pronounced and ingrained. Today it appears to be ever harder to drag yourself out of poverty. It's like we live in 2 worlds. One where middle class folks can push their kids through UNI/tech college and watch them make a comfortable life for themselves. And one where the cycle of poverty and despair continues and becomes more ingrained.

Another factor we should consider is how the world itself has changed. We do live in a more connected society. This is the information age. Our democracy, on the other hand, is stuck in a 1950's old man's institution-like state. Until we bring our democracy into the new age our kids (and many of our adults too) will find it hard to identify with it and get involved.

As for where all this leaves us today - I'm not sure(!) I suppose in the end our kids have different challenges. But I know one thing for sure - imposing a government enforced curfew is possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Ideas like this demonstrate just how little insight some of our prospective 'leaders' (God help us) have on our youth.

Good discussion folks!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 01, 2010 at 11:23:51

When it comes to kids and their pursuit of happiness, it's time to pretend we care. Against the electric feel of the youth and their weekend wars, our future reflections can lead us to metanoia. Love always remains, but everything's happening so fast that we don't care.

Comment edited by z jones on 2010-03-01 10:24:41

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 02, 2010 at 10:12:06

Nice job rusty, especially the bit about "real jobs". 50 years ago a kid could drop out of the 7th grade, walk up to the north end and get himself a decent working-class job. If he kept with it, it would be enough to raise a family on (with their mother at home), put the kids through college, and retire. Sadly, working class standards of living have fallen a fair bit since the "golden age" of the 50s-70s. Today a young lad with more energy than patience (what used to be known as "normal") can look to fast food, stocking shelves or if he's really lucky, being stuck in an office all day - working for the sake of working.

Compound that with the vastly irrational fears spread by the media about rapists, gangsters and child molesters stuck around all corners. Whether the statistics really show that this risk is higher than it was (kids did indeed join gangs and do drugs back then, too) is largely irrelevant, since they are at far more risk at home People, by and large, get raped and murdered by people they know and care about, sadly enough, and isolating everyone will only make those things worse.

Just like puppies, kids need exercise and stimulation. And just like dogs, humans don't tend to do well locked in small rooms all day.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 02, 2010 at 11:12:16

Compound that with the vastly irrational fears spread by the media about rapists, gangsters and child molesters stuck around all corners. Whether the statistics really show that this risk is higher than it was (kids did indeed join gangs and do drugs back then, too) is largely irrelevant, since they are at far more risk at home People, by and large, get raped and murdered by people they know and care about, sadly enough, and isolating everyone will only make those things worse.

I dare say the pendulum is swinging back. My generation of parents (baby boomers), were the most guilty of the over-parenting you describe. Because I'm an older mum, I know many parents in their 20's and 30's and there seems to be a recognition among them that there are equal risks in not allowing our kids a level of freedom and responsibility. When I first started letting my son (now 13) walk to school on his own at the age of 8, I got a lot of flak from other parents. Four years later, when it was his sister's turn, I had other parents asking me if their kids could walk with mine. Now the neighbourhood is swarming with kids walking on their own to school, groups of kids (predominantly boys - hmmm) playing unsupervised in the park and the woods, etc.

My neighbourhood may not be the norm, but I'm definitely seeing a shift away from the hyper-parenting of the recent past.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted March 02, 2010 at 11:29:09

Rusty: Yes I agree with your posting but would also like to add that when we look at Occupational Health and Safety issues in the workplace, the following information comes to light.

One third of all chemicals used in the workplace have not been tested and combinations of these toxins can be carried back to the home environment through clothing and even your vehicle. We must also look at the physical conditions in the workplace, issues such as temperature and even noise can affect people.

It is universally accepted that every citizen has the right to safe work and work environment according to UN, WHO and ILO, yet when we measure this idoelogy agaisnt the objectives of health and safety it is very clear that Cdn Workers are not enjoying good health.

The push in recent years by the corporations to boost efficiency and competitiveness, to increase profits has also led to a number of things we need to look at. With layoffs, privatization, and contracting out, work has become harder which has led to a new wave of job stress, overwork and repetitive strains.

When we look at fatality rates in the workplace in Canada vs other contries, our stats are quite atrocious. 68,000 Canadians die from Cancer each year but only 10 percent of these deaths are allocted to the workplace, which most likely these stats are understated.

For young people entering the job market, that best thing they can do, is to become informed about the rights under OH & S which are

the right to know, the right to participate, the right to refuse unsafe work

Mgmt perspective is that the employers should take every reasonable precaution but the political economy, mgmt first priority is PROFIT. The current model of behavior based safety programs focus in on the individual workers behavior as the cause and does not put any focus on the workplace environment or the power structures within an organization. Some employers view OH & S as an intrusion into the area of mgmt rights.

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-03-02 10:32:09

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By savio (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2010 at 13:44:47

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By C. Erl (registered) - website | Posted March 02, 2010 at 22:27:39

re: savio

Yup, Dipper to the core. And no, sadly I am not financially able to attend functions of the variety the good councillor held. Not sure if you are an academic or not, but in university, we often use secondary sources when compiling research on current affairs matters.

Contrary to popular belief, school is expensive and, therefore, I must work to help pay for my education. I am currently engaged in wage-slavery and have been so for quite some time to assist in paying for my tuition and books. As for entering the 'work force'? Given my love for the world of academia, I intend to enter the glowing world of the ivory tower and barricade myself in until I have studied everything I can. Sadly, I do not intend to enter the conventional 'work force' as every good conservative sees it, sitting behind a desk, pushing papers for the man.

If you can pick through the tongue-in-cheek humour, you'll get my point :)

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2010 at 00:55:21

I live in Westdale not far from the University. The students are a plague on our community. From drunken fights and screaming sessions to blaring music and vandalism the list is almost endless. Try explaining to your 6 yr old why some idiot snuck into her backyard and stole her Jack-O-Lantern the night before Halloween just to smash it on the street. Or why the music across the street is so loud that she cannot sleep and the cops are to busy to come and deal with it. We have an ever increasing problem with students and I will support any laws or by-laws or politicians that will help with this scourge on society.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted March 05, 2010 at 12:36:38

Mr Meister

Knowing that a university was in the neighborhood why would you move into the area. These so called problems are not new. The same problems have been occuring since I attended MAC in the early 80's. To me, your complaining is like someone moving in next to an airport then complaining about the noise. The university isn't going anywhere, so I suggest you find a new place to live.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2010 at 12:50:29

The idea that it's "acceptable" behaviour for students to be drunk and rowdy bothers me.

If there were a bunch of 40-year-olds constantly doing the same things in your neighbourhood, it wouldn't be tolerated. Why is it OK for students to do the same?

They should be able to understand the same rules of adult society everyone else does - do it on your own property and don't bother anyone else with your noise or destroy anyone's property, or else there's serious consequences (well, unless you live in an area of town the cops don't care about, or there's not enough societal pressure from your neighbours... or...)

The point is, part of treating them like adults is not excusing the 0.5% (or 5%, or 10%) that are acting like "stereotypical irresponsible rowdy college students", and welcoming them into adult society with its inherent respect for others - and consequences if that's not done, same as any other adult.

I'm not that old . But I'll call the cops if a party goes too loud - and they shut them up, even though I'm in a mostly poor neighbourhood, most of us are pretty quiet and law-abiding. I call bylaw if garbage is left on a front lawn or snow isn't shoveled - and they deal with it. (And I also sometimes just get out there and pick up the garbage and shovel the snow). Why can't you do the same in Westdale with students as I can with my man-child neighbours?

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2010 at 15:27:17

As long as this thread is highjacked, I feel it is necessary to make a point about the Westdale situation. I live in Westdale and have never had a problem with students. I've had more issues with home owners but that is besides the point. Balance is a key. If there are too many converted rental units in Westdale, then Mac created this problem by failing to provide adequate res. spaces for years and having a fire sale of houses that it once owned. Bratina was right about the fact that MAC operates in an unruly fashion. The students and their youthful exuberance are not the problem. Its always been the lack of leadership and isolationist policies of the University. Why is it that Columbia College has a residence downtown, but MAC claims that it is not possible to do such a thing? Now MAC has announced that the Family Medicine Clinic is going to MIP instead of downtown. Peter George claims that there was a lack of space downtown. I guess he has never seen an aerial map of downtown. Shame on you Peter George, and shame on the rest of the Board for not standing up for the patients of Hamilton.

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By crhayes (registered) - website | Posted March 08, 2010 at 01:22:28

Reckless behaviour in young adults derives from the way the brain is wired. The frontal lobe is responsible for decision making and is not fully developed until the mid 20's. That is why young adults tend to be reckless and do not always make responsible choices (at least what would be gaged as responsible by a fully developed adult).

The media may exaggerate this type of behaviour, but ultimately it comes down to biology. As such, everyone experiences it, but adults tend to forget this.

Comment edited by crhayes on 2010-03-08 00:29:40

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2010 at 00:05:12

There may have been complaints and problems 30 years ago I have not been here quite that long but in the years that I have been here I have seen the problem worsen. There are more and more student houses and the behaviour of the students has worsened partly I suspect as society's acceptance of poor behaviour has increased. Westdale is much different now than it was when we moved here. The behaviour I complain about is illegal and the residents of this neighbourhood have every right to expect it to be stopped and punished.

I understand why students do some of the things they do, but that does not make it acceptable or tolerable. I do not think the media has exaggerated their poor behaviour at all, we deal with it on a daily basis. The families living here have been very tolerant of the students over the years perhaps too tolerant. I will never tolerate some punk coming into my backyard and stealing anything or vandalizing my property nor should I or anybody else be expected to. The problem is not with the intolerance of the families living here it is with the students who are breaking the laws and otherwise behaving poorly compounded by others making excuses for them and trying to justify the students actions.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 09, 2010 at 09:49:19

Who's more anti-youth? People who think students are capable of behaving like responsible adults, or people who think you shouldn't live near universities because they believe it's a given that students will engage in illegal, anti-social behaviour?

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By uhhhh (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2010 at 04:26:15

In the United States,"the youth" would be singular, not plural.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 21, 2010 at 15:45:17

I guess that explains this:

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