Coddling of American Youth

Coddling of American Youth

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Beginning in 2013, students on college campuses across the United States began asking administrators to protect them against words, ideas, books, and speakers. There has been a long tradition of protest on American campuses, including against speakers with whom students disagree, but this was different. Students medicalized the issue. They argued that hearing some opposing viewpoints or ideas could cause long-lasting damage or trauma.

Since the demands were framed in terms of safety, administrators were forced to respond. Under the guise of emotional well-being, college administrators began implementing rules and policies to eliminate certain phrases, ideas, and speakers students found objectionable. Many of these programs were done in the name of “diversity” and “inclusion,” while the actual policies remained focused on banning certain speech and ideas on campus.

Recent research indicates this approach has been disastrous for education as well as the mental health of the younger generation. According to First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, three “terrible ideas” have come to dominate raising children and education in America: 

  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; 
  2. Always trust your feelings; 
  3. Life is a battle between good people and evil people. 

“These three Great Untruths,” Lukianoff and Haidt argue, “contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures.” 

Lukianoff and Haidt also contend that “concierge parenting”—the practice of removing all obstacles from children’s lives—has culminated in a generation of young people unequipped to deal with adversity. Once on college campuses, these students demand, and often receive, a sheltered university experience.

When they graduate, they are unprepared to face an array of ideas, and often wind up resenting the world for it. They then move into the workplace in media, government, and corporations, forming a potent force driving bias reporting, censorship, and policies that vilify and deplatform opposing viewpoints.

References

  • The Atlantic: The Coddling of the American Mind
  • Sydney Morning Herald: 'Profoundly dangerous': A generation at risk from 'concierge parents'
  • The New York Times: How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood

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