Crime Criminals Mental Illness Materialistic Society High School Dropouts Children Divorce

Life holds a different meaning to everyone, and the paths that we choose to take are just as varied as our opinions. The little girl that vowed (at the age of six) to become a lawyer, ends up becoming the wife of a mechanic and a mother to six offspring. Or, the little boy who was intent on becoming a police officer is, instead, convicted to fifteen years in prison. What events take place from the time of those childhood dreams to the time that they all disappear? What influences a person to such a degree that their entire future is altered?

Early childhood development has always been paramount in shaping a child’s future. As their minds develop they are force fed the intuitiveness that will assist them in making appropriate decisions. As they grow, they are expected to retain what they have been taught, and live their lives according to the norm. But, what is normal for some is not necessarily normal for others. The old cliche, “Children learn what they live,” definitely holds true.

As a child enters school they become exposed to different cultures and social situations. While “being a good boy” (or girl) was expected from them at home, they now learn how their behavior impacts others. What Mom and Dad may not view as amusing might get them laughs in a different setting. They have now learned reaction vs. response in a whole new arena, and it’s an enjoyable experience.

Peer pressure sets in long before a child ever steps foot in a high school. Still in possession of an adolescent mindset, these youngsters are coerced into taking part in activities that they would, otherwise, say no to in order to fit into a particular crowd. This is the true test of the influences set by parents but, unfortunately, the peer pressure can oftentimes be too strong to ignore.

The overall divorce rate in the United States is between 45-50%, and 70% of all children incarcerated today are from broken homes. Parents are so busy providing for their children’s physical well being that they are ignoring their emotional well being. There are no more mothers waiting at home with chocolate chip cookies when the children arrive from school. Kids now have their own house key and their own cell phones. Their idle’ time is spent watching television or playing video games.

The child advances through puberty, survives the peer pressure and the divorce, and runs head on into society. If they dropped out of high school they are 20% more likely to turn to crime. The California Dropout Research Center (CDRP) completed a study that showed the dropout rate, in that state alone, costing taxpayers $46.4 billion annually. They exceed in unemployment, welfare and criminal activity.

According to a Washington Post article printed June 7, 2005, one-quarter of all Americans have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Additionally, we are one of the worst countries for providing treatment. While mental illnesses do include schizophrenia, bipolar and other physiological afflictions, it also includes emotional illnesses. An emotional illness, though treatable, can be just as devastating and can cause a lasting effect on the person suffering from it, as well as those associated with them.

We have become a materialistic society dependent on Starbucks, Ipods and designer wear. We have been brainwashed into believing that these things are necessary for acceptance, and it places a great amount of stress on individuals who are less able to obtain them. Whether we are from a broken home, uneducated, suffering from a mental illness, or merely trying to survive, the pressures placed on us are immense.

Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi said, “there is an inverse relationship between materialism and morality, because the more materialistic we become, the less moral we become.” When we become less moral, we become capable of anything.