Ben Shapiro: Young Americans are losing their minds. The social Left is to blame.
Now they demand more control in order to alleviate the consequences of the chaos they have created.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing that our nation's young girls are in a state of absolute emotional and mental crisis.
According to the CDC, 57% of high school girls said they were depressed in 2021, compared with 36% in 2011; 30% said they had considered suicide, compared with 19% in 2011. The numbers had also increased markedly for high school boys: 29% of high school boys reported depressive symptoms, up from 21% in 2011; 14% of high school boys had considered suicide, up from 13% a decade before.
Naturally, our nation's pseudoscientific experts blame societal intolerance and lack of sexual sensitivity. Never mind the fact that more kids than ever are declaring themselves members of nonexistent identity groups (Demisexual! Gender nonbinary!), mistakenly self-diagnosing with Tourette's syndrome or gender dysphoria, and claiming victimhood at the hands of a cruel society — a society that rewards and cheers all such claims. Never mind that we've now undergone a gender revolution in which we've declared biological sex itself passe, treated heterosexual norms as taboo and misogynistic and attempted to wipe away — along with actual sexual predation — much normal behavior in the name of #MeToo.
No, says the CDC, the problem — as always — is with society's demands. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the CDC recommends "teaching kids about sexual consent, managing emotions, and asking for what they need"; furthermore, "Schools should encourage gender and sexuality alliances, provide safe spaces and people for LGBTQ+ students to go to for support, and ensure enforcement of antiharassment policies."
Yes, the answer to five decades of social Leftism resulting in two generations unmoored from mental health is... more social Leftism!
Or, alternatively, any society that attempts to destroy all rules, roles and intermediate institutions laden with traditional values will end up abandoning its children — all in the name of tolerance and diversity. We have robbed young men of a sense of meaning: we've told them that they need not be providers, protectors or defenders, and that even aspiring to do so makes them bigoted remnants of the past. Instead, young men are told that they ought to relegate themselves to the role of "male feminists," condemning their own "toxic masculinity" while shying away from the commitments that turn boys into men.
We have robbed young women of any sense of place, time or purpose: we've told them that they need not seek out a husband, aspire to bear and rear children or make preparations to build a home. Instead, we've told them that they can run from their own biology, declaring themselves boys rather than girls, delaying childbearing indefinitely, pursuing the things that are supposedly truly important: sexual license, more work hours, sipping wine at brunch with single friends.
We have done all of this because children do not lie at the top of our civilizational hierarchy: the interests of adults do. Increasingly, adults in the West see children as either a burden and thus avoid having them, or as validators of their own sense of subjective self-identity, requiring indoctrination into more liberal forms of social organization.
And now children are paying the price.
The social Left has been in control of virtually all levers of culture and policy for decades. Now they demand more control in order to alleviate the consequences of the chaos they have created. The answer, of course, is precisely the opposite: the reinvigoration of traditional sources of wisdom and values, the re-inculcation of morality and obligation. If our society does not quickly reverse field, the consequences for our young people will be utterly disastrous.
Ben Shapiro is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work is regularly published in the Grand Forks Herald.