The modern teen-ager may not be the best or the worst the world has ever known, but both the male and the female of the species are the most publicized in human history. From sub-teens to late teens this age group is the favorite example—both positive and negative—of everything and everyone from the advertising agency to the agonized parent. The care and feeding of the adolescent is the choice topic for columnists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and theologians. Columns in the public press and hours in the public forum are devoted to the eating, drinking, sleeping, studying, dressing, driving, and dating habits of the contemporary teen-ager.
This attention is concerned not always so much by curiosity as by concern. There is, if you will, an élan, even a mystique, about this segment of the population that, in the light of statistical studies and current trends, has caused both wonder and alarm on the part of the bystander (who, incidentally, is not always so innocent).
We are told, for example, that one of every five children born today will become a juvenile delinquent. In the five-year period between 1955 and 1960, the crime rate for those under eighteen years of age increased 61 per cent for larceny, 49 per cent for robbery, 41 per cent for sex offenses, 39 per cent for aggravated assault, 37 per cent for murder, and 26 per cent for auto theft. It is important to realize that these are not percentages of occurrence but percentages of increase. In June of 1962, 58 per cent of those reporting for preinduction physical examinations failed to meet the minimum standards. Similarly shocking statistics reflect a disturbing increase in high school “drop-outs,” narcotics addiction, illegitimate births, and venereal ...1
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