A recent report was released from the journal Pediatrics that said nearly 41% of America’s youth have been arrested at least once for other than minor traffic violations by the age of 23. Around 27% of those surveyed reported being arrest by age 18.
Their research spanned 11 years of surveys (1997-2008) of over 7000 young adults. The current study’s lowest levels of arrests were significantly higher than the last time a similar study was made back in 1965. The study did not reveal the types of arrests such as violent crimes versus minor infractions, but the overall trend has a number of experts concerned.
One child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr Eugene Beresin says that the research reflects social, economic, educational and family risks are associated with the increased arrest rate. He also said that another study shows that 50% – 75% of young people in jail have some form of diagnosable mental health problems.
Beresin’s solution is to train pediatricians to recognize mental health issues in their patients so they can be treated early. However he also says that this is not the only solution and other options are few and far between at the present. He concluded his comments by saying,
“It’s like Ghostbusters, who are you going to call? There are very few people to call. We’re really asleep at the wheel right now when it comes to these problems with our young people.”
I find it quite interesting that the current research was compared to one done in 1965 as it was 1964-1969 when the US Supreme Court started issuing rulings to remove Bibles, prayer and any other form of Christianity from the public school classroom. Instead of being taught biblical values, they started teaching kids that they’re just another animal and that the strong will prevail and weak will not. Since schools now taught that there was no God, it also meant that there was no one or no thing to be accountable to, which means they just have to take care of themselves and live for the moment.
You can also trace the decline in the family structure, increase in divorce and fatherless homes back to the Supreme Court rulings. The 1960’s also saw an increase in pre-marital sex, teen pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Scholastic performance also started a decline at this time as did a rise in crime rates. Church attendance also started to decline.
I contend that the issue with the current study is not one of mental health issues as much as it is a spiritual issue. Without a Christian foundation, children are lost and turn to whatever means they can to try to deal with all of the stresses and pressures of growing up in a godless society.
This was shown to be the case in a research study conducted by Barna Research in 2000. They found that only 53% of church leaders, 36% of adult non-leaders believe in an absolute moral truth. With the failing of the church and the public schools, Barna revealed that only 9% of teenagers that identify themselves as born-again Christians believed in an absolute moral truth. The report also gave a foreboding for the future of American Christendom in that only 30% of born-again teens said that they would continue to attend church once they graduated and left home.
The last thing we need is more doctors and social workers telling our young people that they have some sort of mental problem when what they really need is someone in their lives to show them the love and need of Jesus Christ. Historically, the most successful rehabilitation programs have been ones that are Christ centered. He turns the cold hardened hearts of sinners into warm and caring hearts. He takes their focus off of themselves and turns it towards Him and others around them.
America doesn’t need more mental health programs. What we need is a true revival like those that took place in 1730s and 1740s with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. Huge percentages of the population turned to Christ which in turn had a great influence on those that became the leaders of the American Revolution and our nation gaining its independence from Great Britain
What America and especially our youth need is to follow God’s advice in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”