Selling Our America's Children : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Selling Out Americas Children 2nd Journal Reading By: David Walsh, Ph.D.

I first learned of David Walsh when he spoke at a Center For Reducing Rural Violence Conference last spring. At that time, Dr. Walsh threw out some very disturbing statistics concerning Americas children. They were as follows: A child is arrested every nine minutes for an alcohol or drug offense. The third leading cause of death among young people is suicide. The nation is approaching twenty five percent for high school drops outs. In the United States, ten thousand babies a year are born to girls under fifteen years of age. According to the 1991 Surgeon Generals report, sixteen percent of the juniors and seniors of America drink alcohol weekly. One half million of them will have five or more consecutive drinks at least once a week.

This book is crammed with how America overwhelmingly sells materialism, violence, and irresponsible sex with the power of the media. Where are the necessary values and morals we want our youth to have in America today?

The chapter that stands out the most to me was Winning Isnt Everything--Its The Only Thing (Chapter 8). We all want our kids to lead successful lives academically, socially, and athletically. It is healthy, to a point, to encourage our children with pressure to succeed. This encouragement is a tool of motivation and is certainly a part of the growing process. Competition is also healthy if it doesnt become off-balance. Even though balance is a requisite to a childs developmental self-discipline, and a necessity to raising healthy children, our society does not value balance. Dr. Walsh presents in his book that children of today are forced to have the most and the best of everything. If they dont, they are nothing.

Young athletes today face many more serious health threats and injuries than in the past. Is this from pushing the injury healing process to win the game? Is this from overtaining? Some examples of health threats are eating disorders in gymnasts or overtrained runners suffering from leg injuries. Society looks at playing injured as courageous. Are we selling our kids out just to win? The reason this chapter interested me was because of the following story about an eighth-grade hockey cheerleader from a suburb in St. Paul, Minnesota:

This particular hockey team was out of town for a game staying overnight in a hotel. The cheerleader was raped by two team stars. She did report the rape but she was immediately mocked and badgered. She was criticized for pressing charges and blamed for the rape. This cheerleader was accused of jeopardizing the accused rapists future careers. This hockey team would not be able to win without these two players. Within three years of the rape, the cheerleader committed suicide. The stars were left untouched because winning was the name of the game. Because winning was the ticket, the value of honesty was lost. Are we selling out Americas children to win?

Dr. Walsh suggests a call between excellence and success. Can we motivate our kids to do their best and, at the same time, convince them that winning isnt everything? Their needs to be a balance of respect for achievement as well as those who participate in activities without as much talent. We are all good in something and not so good in other things. It takes all of us to make this world go round. There has to be a balance between satisfaction of the best efforts of one individual as well as competition and motivation.

To accomplish some balance, kids should be encouraged to try different things. They may find they are really good at something they never thought possible. Dr. Walsh also suggests making sure that kids are developmentally ready. Listen to their cues and suggestions. Parents should also become involved in their childrens activities.

This book is packed with interesting chapters regarding media and violence and advertising power. I really enjoyed this book even though I felt guilty many time while ready the book. Dr. Walsh really opened my eyes to many things--how we are selling out our children. I wrote about Chapter 8 because the story of the hockey cheerleader was permanent in my mind for quite some time. I really thought about some local community happenings, not as severe, but with the same message. Winning is the name of the game. Family morals and values are many times broken because, for some people, it is much more important to win a game.

-- Anonymous, January 27, 1999

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