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Brian Mark Weber / August 12, 2022

The Crisis of Generation Z

What’s behind the anxiety and depression that are plaguing our young people?

Something’s wrong with our kids. They seem troubled, anxious, lost, and hopeless about their future.

“The youth aren’t doing well — not in America, at least,” writes Jesse Singal at The Spectator. “Even before Covid, experts were ringing the alarm bells about a decade-or-so-long trend of American teens and tweens experiencing a steady uptick in anxiety, depression and self-harm symptoms.”

“What’s going on, exactly?” Singal asks. “The short answer is that no one knows for sure. One possibility is that the 2008 financial crisis, a genuinely world-historical event, had some medium- and long-term effects. … It makes sound theoretical sense that the recession would leave an impact on the children hit hardest by it, and that the effects would linger for years.”

But economic recessions alone can’t explain what we’re seeing today. Children who grew up in the Great Depression emerged from squalor to rebuild a nation, hopeful for a better tomorrow and grounded in faith and family. So it’s not just about the economy, and we’re far removed from the 2008 recession. Something’s going on, and it’s been especially evident in the past few years.

Let’s take a look at four important factors. One is the response to COVID, especially the lockdowns and the remote learning. Sitting at home in front of a computer wasn’t good for kids. They weren’t socializing, and they weren’t learning. Many of them developed varying degrees of anxiety and depression.

Another factor is spirituality. As a recent survey by Gallup reveals: “The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup’s trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God. Gallup’s May 2-22 Values and Beliefs poll finds 17% of Americans saying they do not believe in God.”

The survey also shows that only 68% of young adults between 18 and 29 believe in God (a 10% drop compared to the period 2013-2017). It’s no wonder that our kids aren’t interested in religion. They’re brainwashed into thinking that religion is the source of oppression and conflict throughout history, and that spirituality has nothing to contribute to a “progressive” society. Given this hostile belief set, it’s not surprising that the Left has banished God from schools and from the public square.

At the same time, our kids’ minds are being saturated by the pervasive influences of violence, promiscuity, and pornography. Combine these factors with the reality that people of faith have done a poor job of explaining or defending religion and spirituality, and it’s no wonder that many children have channeled their desire to believe in a higher power into worshiping the leftist theologies of, for example, global warming and diversity instead.

This is backward. Our children need more religion, not less. Many studies over the years have shown a strong connection between believing in God and happiness. For example, a Pew Research Center study revealed that people of faith are less likely to smoke and drink, more likely to be involved in their communities, more likely to vote, and generally happier with their lives.

Unfortunately, young people aren’t hearing much about God these days. As Dennis Prager writes, “For about 60 years, the entire world outside of the home (and increasingly inside the home) of most young Americans has been secular and anti-religious.”

Next, it can’t be good for our kids to continually hear that their native land is racist and sexist, or that America’s founding principles are illegitimate. Instead of being proud of their country, they emerge from K-12 schooling or college with a big chip on their shoulder. Instead of seeing America as a beacon of freedom, they see it as a problem that needs to be fixed.

Finally, we can’t neglect the fact that the number of children born out of wedlock continues to soar. And while the Left celebrates the destruction of the nuclear family, the rest of us must consider the very real impact this is having on our children.

Whatever the causes, the mental health and well-being of our most precious resource demands our immediate attention. Perhaps, by focusing our energies and examining the issue honestly, we can avoid making the same mistakes again.

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