Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Poor Baltimore Teenagers Are Less Equipped to Deal With Reality Than Poor Nigerians

“Poor Kids in Baltimore Have It Worse Than Those in Nigeria.”

That’s the headline of a vocative article written about a study led by Dr. Kristen Mmari, an assistant professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins. Studying impoverished teenagers (aged 15 - 19) in Baltimore, Maryland, United States; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Ibadan, Nigeria; and New Delhi, India; Mmari found that they described very similar settings, including litter, rats and other health risks.

Even more interesting, however, is this… Teenagers in Baltimore and Johannesburg made worse life choices and had more negative attitudes about their lives than the poorer cities studied.

Vocativ writes, “In Baltimore, which is located in the world’s richest nation per capita and just 40 miles from the White House, adolescents exhibited considerably high rates of mental health issues, substance abuse, sexual risk-taking, sexual violence and teen pregnancy. In comparison, adolescents in New Delhi exhibited far fewer of those behaviors and outcomes, despite residing in a much less prosperous nation.

“The reason for this, Mmari discovered, is rooted in the way teenagers interpret their surroundings. ‘How kids perceive their environments is really important,’ she says. ‘That’s what’s driving many of these behaviors.’ For example, a young man in New Delhi and a young man in Baltimore may both live in neighborhoods with poor living conditions and little opportunity, but because the teenager in New Delhi is able to see his environment in a more positive light, he is less likely to experience adverse health problems. ‘He paints a different picture.’

The article/study goes on to blame society for this difference in attitude, with an “it takes a village to raise a child” spin. But that liberal propaganda might not be entirely incorrect this time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not excusing the little brats in question who take bad circumstances and actively make them worse by living in the it’s-all-about-me moment, completely disregarding that there’s anything or anyone else involved, and then blaming society for all their woes.

Yet that doesn’t mean society is off the hook here. It’s ridiculous how many songs and movies and celebrated lifestyles promise success for such selfish, stupid mantras. And then, on top of that, we uphold an educational system that teaches kids to expect coddling. In too many supposedly academic settings, feelings are given equal or higher weight to natural intelligence and applied determination.

The result? Apparently a bunch of sexually, mentally and emotionally underdeveloped teenagers who turn into that same sorry state of adults…

Oh yeah, and apparently kids who “have it worse than those in Nigeria.” Which is pretty pathetic.

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