High School – Now vs. Then

the_lodger_1-731699I received this email the other day about the differences between how we handle situations in high school today vs. the 1950′s, and found it thought provoking. Many of the comparisons ring quite true in my mind – although some are exaggerated for effect. It makes me wonder what the true cornerstones of this societal shift have been over the years – that have made us arrive at such a different style of parenting and administering to our kids.  It’s hard to imagine that as a whole, kids are that significantly different now vs. then, although I do agree that the elements that our kids are exposed to (via music, reality television and internet) puts them in a much different domain than kids of the fifties and sixties.

I think this certainly plays into the now established norms of helicoptering parenting as well.  Any ideas on what has driven this major societal shift?

HIGH SCHOOL — 1959 vs. 2009

Scenario  1:

Jack  goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school  parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack.

1959  -
Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2009  -
School  goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario  2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1959  -
Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2009  -
Police called and SWAT team arrives — they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario  3:

Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1959  -
Jeffrey sent to the Principal’s office and given a good paddling by the  Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again..
2009  -
Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The school gets extra money from the state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario  4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1959  -
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2009  -
Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.  Billy’s mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario  5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

- Mark  shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking  dock.
- The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario  6:
Pedro fails high school English.
- Pedro  goes to summer school, passes English and goes to  college.
- Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro’s English teacher.  English is then banned from  core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak  English..

Scenario  7:
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed..

1959  -
Ants die.
2009 -
ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents  – and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny’s dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario  8:
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort  him.

1959  -
In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing..
2009  -
Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison.  Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.


  • ann Says:
    12-18-2009 09:15:39

    so good to get a laugh!!!even if it is a little ironic.

    wise women rock!!!

  • Sue Says:
    12-20-2009 21:53:26

    My mother frequently sends me emails like this. I tend to view them as her way of saying “things were much better when I was young, now they are really messed up”.

    I agree that many of these statements have been exaggerated. I also think that many of the changes that have occured have been good (I think we can all agree that hunting rifles should not be brought to school!).

    Of course, no society is perfect, and I’m sure that in another 40 years things will be different again.

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