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Latchkey Nation:Home Alone in America
The Star-Ledger ^ | November 14, 2004 | Mary Eberstadt

Posted on 11/14/2004 10:22:35 AM PST by Founding Father

Latchkey nation: Home alone in America

Why is the mental health of America's children declining so precipitously? Isn't it obvious?

Sunday, November 14, 2004


If there is one subject on which doctors and teachers and other experts involved with children would agree, it's this: Over the past generation, the number of American kids diagnosed with mental disorders has exploded.

In January 2001, the Surgeon General issued a report declaring that the United States faces nothing less than "a public crisis in mental care for children and adolescents." Similarly, the National Mental Health Association estimates that one in five American children has a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder.

This new reality is something many readers will recognize from personal experience. Diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, autism and depression have become all too familiar. School districts and college campuses across the country have been struggling with the accommodations required for these children. Millions of American kids are taking mind-altering prescription drugs; Ritalin production alone increased 700 percent between 1980 and 1990, and the number of children taking all manner of psychiatric drugs tripled from 1987 to 1996, according to one landmark survey of 900,000 kids.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: behavior; children; disorders; mentaldisorders; mentalhealth; parenting; schools
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To: Founding Father

I suspect we have always been messed up but didn't have "experts" to diagnosis and place blame and media to sensationalize.

21 posted on 11/14/2004 10:55:41 AM PST by CindyDawg
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To: CindyDawg

I suspect we have always been messed up but didn't have "experts" to diagnosis and place blame and media to sensationalize.

That's true, back in the day (Salem) they just burned most women at the stake for acting witchy(acute fever or PMS). We've come a long way baby. Now, about those ugly burqa's and Scott Peterson types...

22 posted on 11/14/2004 11:00:11 AM PST by SunnySide
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To: SE Mom
Daycare aside for a moment. What I observe when I'm out n' about these days are parents who appear to not really want their kids- I see children treated as an annoyance- a distraction from what the parents would rather be doing. I see it in high and low income families- well-educated and not.

I think that one problem is that many parents today don't really want children -- they want objects of gratification, something that exists only to make the parents happy, something with no more intrinsic value than a Monopoly board game. They ignore their kids except when they're in the mood to do fun things with them, leaving the actual work of childrearing to third parties such as nannies, daycare workers, teachers, coaches, etc. Inevitably, after the novelty wears off, the parents lose what little interest they ever had in their children.

So many parents conveniently think that their children don't need attention and guidance from both parents, and yet they are baffled when their children misbehave, fail and in the end, ignore their parents (except, perhaps, when they want something).

23 posted on 11/14/2004 11:01:18 AM PST by Siamese Princess
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To: Marinefamilyx3
Parents need to stop blaming their kid's problems on everything except where it truly lies.....themselves (the parents). They're all too quick to resort to medicine or God's the school's fault. Wake up and smell the coffee parents, it's YOUR fault your kid is screwed up. Time to take some responsibility for how your children turned out and not blame it on everything else in the world to make yourself feel better at what a lousy parent you are. Maybe if parents would act like parents and not their kid's best friends and buddy, we wouldn't have half the problems that we do in our schools today.

Excellent post and spot on. I particularly like the point you made about parents being parents and not their kids' friends. The problem is, that in this egalitarian age, many parents don't believe that they have the right to tell their children what to do. So they try to manipulate their children into behaving. And, of course, when children are allowed to run amuck at home they naturally think that they can run amuck at school and everywhere else.

24 posted on 11/14/2004 11:05:36 AM PST by Siamese Princess
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To: Founding Father
I was at the doctor's office with my daughter the other day.

There was an old Time magazine with an interview of the current Wal-Mart CEO.

He was asked something to the affect of how Wal-Mart can predict the demographics of America.

He stated that fifteen or twenty years ago, the hunting and camping sections were the most popular at their stores. now, they are the least, with the electronic games areas taking up more space.

This, he said, proves that they need to market more and more to kids and parents who have little contact with each other.

Kind of sad...
25 posted on 11/14/2004 11:10:25 AM PST by baltodog (Feel free to believe that you descended from monkeys. I'm not gonna' stop you.)
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To: Founding Father
How convenient! The media coming out with articles about children's mental health deteriorating, and needing attention, just in time to lend impetus to the mandatory, government imposed mental health screening of all children.
26 posted on 11/14/2004 11:13:31 AM PST by Klickitat
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To: Founding Father
"evidence indicates that full-blown depression in children and adolescents is increasing in incidence and often is overlooked as a cause of behavioral and other problems."

*Try not force feeding kids your leftist agendas at school, which ALIENATES them from their family values!!!

Here too, what is thought to be evidence of disease overlaps uncomfortably with what many people with experience of actual children and teenagers might well regard as "normal" (if intensely annoying) juvenile behavior: "arguing with adults," "spiteful or vindictive behavior" and being "touchy or easily annoyed."

*ALL adolescents have some level of attention deficit, it goes with the territory! It's not a behavioral disorder, it's called rebellion!

In short, without the absent-adult problem, America's juvenile mental-health problem on today's scale would not exist.

*While this may be true in some cases it certainly is not in all, it's how that situation is handled, and how much quality time is spent that makes all the difference in the world.

*What none of these psychiatrists and academics will accept is that to keep feeding our kids these immoral leftists agendas, ie: sexual promiscuity, homosexuality as a preferable life style, absence of the correlation between nature and human existence, opposition to values taught at home, to name a few, in fact CREATES depression and separation from family. Not teaching self control, boundaries, lines one does not cross, consequences for ones behavior, reading writing and arithmetic, history as it truly happened! They need to stop INDOCTRINATING our kids!!

*Todays kids are in learning environments where they are taught to disrespect and defy their parents and the values taught at home, (sexual promiscuity as natural and healthy, to name only one!)they are taught a progressive agenda. Gone are the days when they got an education first and foremost and sex education was basic and taught abstinence was best. This is causing division in their families, causing their focus to be diverted to sex and obsession with sex, much too early in life. Adolescents particularly are discovering themselves sexually, they don't need their natural curiosity peeked thus diverting from their attention to their studies more than it already is. Even in grammar school, this agenda is unnatural, and causes confusion, as well as causing their inability to see life as anything but chaotic, and spinning out of control. Just MO.
27 posted on 11/14/2004 11:22:29 AM PST by gidget7 (God Bless America, and our President George W. Bush)
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To: valkyrieanne

Some yes, separation from their parents. Some yea, are not wanted, but we have a serious agenda in acadamis today, and it really needs to stop. My son was raised without his father, but he is a well adjusted, stable adult. It's the quality of the time, not the quantity.

28 posted on 11/14/2004 11:29:29 AM PST by gidget7 (God Bless America, and our President George W. Bush)
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To: CindyDawg
That is true, however, we need to be very suspicious of these so called "experts" who would medicate children to keep them docile, it is not in a child's make up to sit for 6 or 7 hours a day. When we were kids, the teachers took us outside for recess, to burn off excess energy. Today, if the teachers don't have an aide to do that, the kids don't get recess, and don't burn off energy. In general, much of the old ways were best. Mush the same as "oh gee, grandma was right, chicken soup is good for a cold"
29 posted on 11/14/2004 11:34:22 AM PST by gidget7 (God Bless America, and our President George W. Bush)
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To: shellcracker

It doesn't hurt that the whole game is influenced by money at all levels.

30 posted on 11/14/2004 11:36:44 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: Mears

A mother who actually parented" and was not afraid to use a little discipline along with teaching the same "moral values" that are bing denigrated by the left probably had something to do with you and your siblings turning out okay.

31 posted on 11/14/2004 11:38:50 AM PST by freeangel (freeangel)
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To: freeangel

Yes,she parented, and we had very little. She also never had a boyfriend and devoted herself to our care.

When I got married and had kids myself I looked back in wonder at what she did.

32 posted on 11/14/2004 11:44:01 AM PST by Mears
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To: longtermmemmory
This is just another bash family articles to counter the notion that Marriage is to raise children. (as opposed to the homosexual notion that marriage is about orgasm).

You must not be familiar with Eberstadt's work. The article is nothing of the kind.

33 posted on 11/14/2004 11:48:02 AM PST by independentmind
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To: gidget7

Yeah they get pumped with high carb free breakfasts, have limited recesses and then drugged to calm down . When they get home they have a bunch of homework. Then the experts scratch their heads about obesity problems.

34 posted on 11/14/2004 11:57:23 AM PST by CindyDawg
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To: Mears; Recovering Ex-hippie; Marinefamilyx3
I, too, was a latchkey kid.

Reading each of your accounts I was struck by the fact that you all spoke of your family's in positive ways. Your parents didn't leave you home alone because they wanted to buy a boat or so that your mom could be more fulfilled or because caring for the kid(s) was unimportant or because your mom decided that having a dad around wasn't important. And, I think that's the difference. If I were to speak about being a latchkey kid, my account wouldn't be positive. My parents' reasoning was flawed and selfish -- in many ways they were ahead of their time.

The increase in latchkey kids are just another symptom of a culture gone astray. Have uninvolved parents is going to have negative effects on children. Absent, uninvolved parents have increased negative effects.

I'd like to see a study of the reasons given by parents for their kids being left alone. I'm generally not one to wager, but I'd bet that if the study were correctly done, it could be easily shown that most latchkey kids are home alone because their parents simply have higher priorities.

35 posted on 11/14/2004 12:02:34 PM PST by FourPeas (By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation. ~Edmund Burke)
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To: Mears

Sounds like she did a lot the same thing I did. I worked second shift, so I could be home with my son, and the time away was mostly sleep time. Even read to him on cassette tapes so he could still have that even when I wasn't home. I too, delayed my own personal life until he was older.

36 posted on 11/14/2004 12:05:24 PM PST by gidget7 (God Bless America, and our President George W. Bush)
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To: SunnySide

I'm hopeful that a lot of the tax reforms put forth by President Bush will enable more families to have Mom stay home. I stay home with our son but it is so hard financialy. We keep on going, though. More tax breaks would definitely make things easier.

37 posted on 11/14/2004 12:09:06 PM PST by rocky88 ("This is the best election night in history." --DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, 11/2/04 at 8pm EST)
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To: Founding Father

What unconstitutional programs are you talking about?

If a program is not mandated by the constitution specifically, that doesn't meanit is 'unconstitutional.' It may be 'extra-constitutional.' That is to say takes on an elective, but certainly not outlawed, function.

So what do you mean?

38 posted on 11/14/2004 12:09:26 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: FourPeas

Thanks for your nice response.

I happen to live in an affluent town and most of the parents work,using nannies,day-care,afterschool care,and camp to take care of the kids.Some of these little ones are my own grandchildren,but I stay out of it.

I don't get it! I stayed home with my kids and am glad I did,especially after I realized how hard it must have been for my mother.

39 posted on 11/14/2004 12:09:31 PM PST by Mears
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To: marty60

I was a latch-key kid nearly 40 years ago and so was my husband. Kids today are not as self-sufficient, imo.

40 posted on 11/14/2004 12:14:36 PM PST by annyokie (If the shoe fits, put 'em both on!)
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