A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence, by Patricia Hersch
a. Respond to the scenario that prompted Hersch’s statement that
“This kind of tolerance amounts to a new ethic of situational excuses, a hazy sense of right and wrong.”
What are the cultural factors at play in this scenario?
This book, having been written in 1998, offers an interesting perspective on how much things have changed since that time. Having had the opportunity to work with clients incarcerated in the Department of Community Justice’s Secure Treatment Facility, I have had the benefit of seeing the differences – from then to now – apparent in culturally centered criminal thinking and behavior. Although criminal thinking and behaviors witnessed in the prior decade were truly disturbing, adolescent behavior today is far more heinous and widespread than most people realize. Many would say that little had been accomplished to mitigate the rampant racism and inequality pervasive at the time when gang activity grew in the 1980’s, and today, people might say that not much more than lip service has been provided to solve this abhorrent social problem from then to this day.
Having had limited instruction in this complicated issue, I’m unable to use more than supposition to describe how I view gang related behavior. I focus on gang activity because the social isolation suffered by many children has left few options for family oriented connections. I feel that the economic disparity that has grown increasingly worse over these many years plays a major role in the rise in gangs and gang-like activity. The resulting increase in poverty has produced a rise in anger and frustration that is exhibited by more than one race, cultural, or economic class.
What are the developmental factors at play in this scenario?
The “hazy sense of right and wrong” that is prevalent in many educational settings may be the result of the dissatisfaction and resentment and the perception of unequal treatment felt by the disenfranchised. The poor the races and the culturally misunderstood face social attitudes that don’t seem to improve. Furthermore, a lack of community support (compassion fatigue,) poorly modeled social skills, little cultural tutoring in early youth, and an unhealthy psychosocial environment in infancy contribute to this dysfunctional dynamic. The resentment experienced by this segment of society fosters a disrespect and contempt for the rules of civil behavior. The formal operational stage of development that Piaget describes has not quite come to maturity, and thus, this “hazy sense of right and wrong.”
What are the environmental factors at play in this scenario?
It is difficult for me to separate the cultural, developmental, and environmental factors of ethical thought, because they are – in my opinion – intertwined and inseparable. A cultural vacuum is filled with whatever unifying element exists in a society for youth to access. It is...