Road to Whatever
Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence
new Darwinism is not only tough but also distinctly uncaring and
irresponsible; under its sway, we have become a society that is
often self-righteously hard on children but simultaneously unwilling
to accept the responsibility of actually bringing them up."
Elliot Currie, author of The Road to Whatever: Middle-Class
Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence.
of us have seen them-white, middle class teenagers who don't seem
to care about anything. Most of us have heard their mantra-"Whatever."
They come from relatively stable familial and financial backgrounds.
They have opportunities and means for which those in lower classes
could only wish. Yet more and more of these adolescents are exhibiting
reckless abandon. They've become drug and alcohol abusers, juvenile
delinquents and suicide statistics. What's going on?
Elliott Currie, one of America's foremost experts on adolescence
and crime, investigates this growing trend in The Road to Whatever:
Middle-Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence. He interviews
teens who have crossed into the abyss of care-lessness, most of
whom have pulled themselves back from the precipice of tragedy.
Their candid and astute opinions are eye-opening. He converses with
their parents, whose attitudes are demoralizing, and reveals the
common threads. Their misperceptions, heightened by shocking arrogance
that also pervades the schools and institutions that have dealt
(or not) with these disenchanted souls.
Road to Whatever: Middle-Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence
is neither an emotionally or intellectually easy read, but it should
be mandatory for everyone who deals with children. The author shows
great understanding of each entity's limitations and does not place
responsibility for this appalling state of affairs squarely on any
participant's shoulders. He offers no quick fix, but he does propose
possible solutions aimed at saving this and future generations from
a similar downward spiral. "By establishing more humane policies
for families, schools, and workplaces, we not only make life easier
for Americans in ways that should reduce the stresses and fears
that help breed a heedless 'me first' ethic, we also model the outlines
of a more supportive community. A society that begins to care better
for its people, in short, both diminishes the conditions that lead
to carelessness and demonstrates that there are other, and better,
ways to live." Simple common sense supported by cultural history,
contemporary particulars and universal standards. Pay heed America!
Our children need us!
Lynda E. Lukow