Roper: Politicizing our kids and rising suicide rates

Michael Bielawski/TNR

Many students who spoke at the May 1, 2019, Youth Lobby rally in Montpelier said fear is what motivates them to demand immediate action on global warming.

By Rob Roper

A month or so ago several national media outlets covered a study about spiking teen suicide rates. And not just suicide:

“We found significant increases in major depression, serious psychological distress which includes anxiety and hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among teens and young adults with smaller, more inconsistent increases among adults age 26 and older,” study author Jean Twenge told CBS News.

The problem is particularly acute in Vermont, where our young people die by suicide at one of the highest rates in the country. So, here is a question: Is politicizing (politically weaponizing) our kids causing them serious psychological damage?

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

We are taking these immature, trusting, malleable young people and bombarding them every day with messages like, “If we don’t pass a carbon tax and all start driving electric cars within the next decade it will lead to — in the words of one Vermont Representative — ‘planetary collapse.’” Grab a poster, skip school, and we’ll put your picture on the front page of the paper.

Of course, death by climate change is really a moot point because well before those 10 years pass you’ll probably be shot in your school cafeteria by a lunatic with an AR-15, so you better skip class again, grab a sign and start calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Do that and we’ll put you on the cover of Time Magazine!

If you do somehow manage to survive, remember that everything in your life, macro or micro, is driven by racism, homophobia, xenophobia, white privilege, toxic masculinity, patriarchy, cultural appropriation, and who knows what other insidious forces of social injustice lurking behind that stranger’s smiling wave and wish for a Merry Christmas.

You are either an irredeemable, deplorable oppressor or the helpless victim of such oppressors, neither of which is a particularly appealing or self-affirming position to be in.

The kids aren’t coming up with stuff on their own. They are being manipulated by teachers, special interest groups and politicians, and often encouraged by their parents. Honestly, do you really think the middle- and high-school students marching on the Statehouse for climate change came up with their list of demands on their own? “Double the number of low- and moderate-income homes weatherized annually.” “Expand local renewable power and electrification of heating and transportation sectors.” “Prohibit the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.” “Act on the Joint Fiscal Office’s carbon pricing study.”

With that last one, all plausible deniability went out the window. Do any of these kids know what the Joint Fiscal Office is, let alone did they read that study? Yet we are supposed to believe this is what they came up with while hanging out on the bleachers during recess? No, this is a list of special interest group priorities, and the kids are being exploited as a prop. That’s not healthy.

The social contract the adults are writing for young people today is one in which to receive positive recognition and social advancement you must continuously digest and regurgitate the most dystopian possibilities for your future on a planet populated by vile people embroiled in insurmountable, cataclysmic, environmental and moral crises. That’s awful enough, but if you dare deny this bleak view and believe in a world where things are pretty good and getting better, you risk being ridiculed, ostracized and exiled. Can you imagine a more cruel emotional bind or a more potent recipe for creating anxiety, stress and depression in a young, developing human being?

Let’s be honest with our kids — the world we live in is not the apocalyptic nightmare some would have you believe. The truth is we are lucky to be living in the least violent, most abundant, healthy, wealthy, peaceful time in human history. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. One of the safest places you will ever be is in your school, and, to quote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “Like the ‘world ending in 12 years’ thing, you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.”

Is our world perfect? No. Is there work to do to make things even better than they are today? Of course. But, as the adults here it’s our responsibility to fix these problems, not yours. Not yet. Our other job is to prepare you be well equipped, well adjusted, productive citizens for when you do become adults and assume the responsibilities of running the world. Poisoning your adolescent years with perpetual fear, anger, paranoia and hopelessness while using you as front line cannon fodder in our petty political fights is not the way to achieve those goals.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

17 thoughts on “Roper: Politicizing our kids and rising suicide rates

  1. Rob Roper et al:

    Thanks to all of you for reminding us about the insidious programming of our childrens’ mush minds with the incessant, untrue utterances from the mindless liberals. How do ordinary people counter this?

  2. Rob; you are correct that kids are being manipulated by teachers. It is even worse, the teachers are being misguided by NSTA (National Science Teachers Assoc.). In their 2018 “Position Statement on The Teaching of Climate Science; , there are numerous mistakes and actual changes to history. No medieval warming period, apparently the Vikings never lived in Greenland. No little Ice age. 12000 years of stable climate, until now. Insist on a scientific “consensus” which is not the current scientific method, and the actual J. Cook 2013 consensus has been widely disqualified. NSTA should know this. No acknowledgement by NSTA that the UNIPCC computer models fail to match actual global temperatures. All wrong teaching!

  3. Jesus said, “Fear not.” Wackos try to sell their agendas by fear and their predictions are normally wrong. No one knows when the end will be and I don’t want to know.

  4. This is how Vermont’s Special Education racket works.

    “It also is difficult to ignore the fact that Vermont spends substantially more per student with an IEP
    than the national average or other peer states.”

    “Disabilities that manifest as behavioral issues that impact students’ abilities to
    learn typically fall under the category of emotional disturbance.”

    “Vermont’s special education population has the largest share of students with emotional
    disturbance of any state in the nation…”

    “…it cost an average of 2.2 times more to serve a student identified with an emotional disturbance than to educate an average general education student.”

    “Vermont’s existing funding policy may also incentivize local educators to identify students for
    special education.”

    Clearly, even the State recognizes that student dysfunction is a growth industry for its education monopoly and the special interest groups profiting from it. Because successful interventions are antithetic to that growth, the education cabal will not change course voluntarily.

    I’ll state the obvious yet again: the single most important social and economic policy change in Vermont, and America for that matter, is for legislatures to provide comprehensive school choice vouchers…period! School Choice support should be the primary litmus test for all political candidates. The only reason any politician would oppose School Choice is because they profit in one way or another from incentivized student dysfunction.

    • Great post, clearly demonstrating the break down of the family structure within our state. When you have no family planning, no job, no family structure, add in drugs and alcohol and you start raising a family, it makes for a tough start.

      Vermont is trying to resurrect, addicted birth families, where mom and child are addicted to Heroin. Is Dad around? Chances are he was a dealer. No amount of money can save this family, it takes a serious about face change of life. Instead, Vermont is promoting the selfishness and enabling bad behavior on the part of parents. Because of this Vermont was the leading state in our nation for Addicted births in 2014. They think expensive preschool from 0-6 is going to solve this?

      Making money of enabling bad behavior is not a real economy, it’s a false economy, just like drugs, it’s doesn’t build people up. If we spend our time, money and efforts getting people off drugs, making stupid decisions, we can’t focus on improving our society.

      Sadly getting people to be self sufficient is not a good business model for DCF and our bloated human services, it would however be great for the well being of our state and people.

      • It’s not just pointing oput the breakdown in societal norms. It’s what can we do about it. Determining the best tangible next step.

        I’m simply hoping TNR readers understand the profound importance of School Choice Vouchers. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is contingent upon allowing parents to choose their children’s education programs. At this point in time, simply eliminating education subsidies won’t do the trick. We must enable (i.e. subsidize) parental efforts to make education choices – good or bad. Vouchers are the only way to stop this madness.

        • I’m with you Jay. Sadly most parents don’t even understand what is going on, I certainly had no idea of the scope say 10 years ago. Those whose kids have been through school have no idea what is currently being taught. We’re on a second generation of indoctrination, which makes things even more difficult.

          Vouchers would do wonders, even at 50 or 30 cents on the dollar for what the state is paying.

  5. Great article Rob, We are teaching our kids to be miserable, everyone actually. We used to grow up saying, finish your meal, kids are starving in China. Be grateful for what you have, kids in Africa live in mud huts.

    Now our schools and beloved Bernie propagate envy and jealousy, something that can ruin a person with ease as it’s our natural tendency.

    Our society had some foundation in truth, passed on from generation to generation, now we don’t even read the basics, let alone practice them.

    Vermont has almost entirely been subverted by false teachings of democratic socialism or NOW Pssc as I like to refer to them. Yuri Bezmenov, laid out the whole subversion plan, countries have been working on it long before the internet, though the net is propagandists dream.

    Our current status of division, do nothing, stuff my pockets with “free money”, how can I help myself attitude has to change. Getting back you our foundation, the core beliefs this country and our state were founded on would instantly bring about love, joy and peace. Wouldn’t that be refreshing.

  6. It’s time to enact laws against using children as political pawns and useful idiots. The kids aren’t idiots, it’s the parents and teachers who use them for their causes that are the idiots. Then they wonder why all the children are stressed out and killing themselves. Protests and rallies for political purposes should consists of adults over the age of majority. Children are not allowed vote for a reason. They have no independent life experience. They need to be kids first and form their opinions later. Parents, teachers and politicians should be fined for using them for their pet causes and they should be ashamed for stressing them out with unproven political positions. Leave the kids alone!

  7. Spot on Rob,,
    The perpetually pissed leftarded faction which is oblivious to the damage they cause
    are not immune from damaging the chiltren. This is going to be one of the better
    paying green jobs, propaganda ministry employee formally known as petulant
    protester. They also do their best to get them gender confused so the drugs
    can rot their brain into a non thinking non reasoning blob. Any that would vote
    infanticide before birth can’t have much respect for children self determination after
    birth.. Just like they are making VT un affordable and so much regulation un livable.
    The do the same with the kids to make them un known and independent. No more Vermonter for you say the leftist fascist nazis

  8. We have child labor laws. It’s time to enact child political laws. Any person who uses a child under the age of 18 in a specific manner to protest, hold political signs, skip school to attend political rallies or to to be used to advocate for or sway the opinion of the voting public by an adult, teacher, parent, politician or any adult person shall be fined $_______ (pick a number). 2nd offense another fine and 15 days in jail, 3rd offense a misdemeanor with 6 months incarceration. It’s past time to allow children to have a childhood. We have an age of majority and it’s time to enforce it. People who teach children to be political useful idiots need to pay for their insensitive, stupidity. One man’s opinion!

  9. Great article Rob and I think you really hit the nail on the head. I personally believe that many of these stresses develop in the early grades and middle schools as they are taught right out of the shoot on liberalism, socialism and the kids just can’t grow up to be kids.
    Cell phones and video games don’t help either for it just adds to peer pressure and illusion of the real world. Now they even want to teach youngsters about LGBT. It’s unbelievable.

  10. Suicide is up and continues to increase, it’s because the kids have brainwashed from the
    time they’re in grade school, high school, and college…..with all the socialist BS.

    The only friend they have is there I-Phone, no real personal interface and then someone
    makes fun of them and well…………. suicide happens.

    The teaching profession is a disgrace, as it’s only a political tool ” child abuse ” with all the
    indoctrination they receive….. Teachers are not teaching there spewing there agenda to try
    and sway the children’s minds for there agenda !! …………………Disgusting.

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