But prices aren’t the only things that have changed. In 1961, church leaders were decrying the epidemic of divorces. Of all marriages, 26% were failing. Today the epidemic has reached the unbelievable rate of 52%. In 1961, I was a part of only 5% of births that were illegitimate (out of wedlock). Today it hovers around 41% nationwide with some areas in the country experiencing an astounding 75% illegitimacy rate.
Few could have imagined in 1961 that the greatest and fastest expansion of technology and innovation in human history would explode in the next five decades. Facebook, e-mails, texting, reality TV, Skyping, and Google searches were very foreign to the world I was born into.
At Patrick Henry Family Services, the first residents that came were undoubtedly described as needy and maybe even “at-risk” but they were less likely to be “troubled”. Attention Deficit Disorder, Bi-polar Disorder, Eating Disorders and the myriad other disorders that so readily attach themselves to our current residents were simply not an issue in those years.
Despite billions of federal and state dollars, America’s children face an uncertain and bleak future – a future much more dire than the founders of Patrick Henry Boys Home could have ever imagined in 1961. Every pathological tendency in the culture has been visited on our children at earlier and earlier ages in recent decades. The nuclear family is at risk of becoming extinct as “alternative” families and lifestyles reject the traditional family for other kinds of relationships and environments that are proving to be devastating to children. A teen suicide rate that is has quadrupled in recent decades is ample enough evidence.
High dropout rates, young women in poverty as heads of households, violent crimes and rampant drug use by undisciplined youths – all mutually reinforcing and self-perpetuating pathologies – have become the most nationally pressing social problem.
Unless we find a way to make childhood possible again, unless we make a way to restore the traditional family, unless we find the collective will to stand against the rising tide of destruction that is enveloping our society, not only will we be destroying our children’s present and future, we may be concocting a dismal prospect for ourselves as well.
We live in exponential times. The changes that took place in our culture over the last five decades will now take half that time or less. The temptations that are destroying our youth are coming at them at earlier and earlier ages.
Time is not on our side. Children quickly become adults, especially if we are not ready for them to be. We do not have the luxury of taking our time to respond to the many calamities in their precious lives.