From Mon Mar 24 16:54:49 1997

Here you go...enjoy!

It's Only Puppy Love: When does society place too many burdens on teens?

By:Mike Allen

Appeared Originally On September 18, 1996

Although I hate to admit it, I'm one 15-year-old who does not date. No, I'm not gay, but I just have much more of a life than to flip-flop out in the romance circuit of teen puppy love. However, this does nothing to detract from my ability to judge the recent battery of teen tragedy I have recently seen. I have read about an increasing trend that psychologists, confused parents, and the media are pushing along: the concept that you are mature enough to select a "soulmate" before you graduate from high school. As silly as this all seems, the pretentious lifestyle of teens has once again taken a tragic turn down yet another seedy alley.

My first hint of the resurgence of teen commitments was when I read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today and saw an article about teen breakups in its "Everyday" section. My first inclination was that this was your typical sugar-coated article, penned by a counselor who had just helped some poor kid who thought their life was over..again. Yet, as I scanned the article, a quote popped out at me and provoked the start of this column. The quote is as follows:

"It's a mistake for a parent or teacher to think of (teens') relationships as just puppy love, because adolescents feel just as abandoned as adults."

This was spoken by Doctor Stuart Kaplan, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Absurdly, this attitude has prevailed in society to the point where mere 11-year-old children are pressured to have babies, use drugs, fly aiplanes, compete in the Olympics, and so on. This is not an attitude one would want a high-ranking teen psychiatrist to be espousing. With his opinions being shared by many others, Dr. Kaplan unknowingly or not is contributing to the burdens we have started placing on youths who should be out playing in the park.

It is not reasonable to assume any teenager is mature or emotionally prepared to make the commitment marriage takes. Thus, teens who make such mistakes will make other mistakes in efforts to change what they have already done. This irreversable tendency only further exemplifies the youthful ignorance of teens who try to play with the proverbial fire. Recently, two teens in Texas believed that the only fire they had to deal with was the sparks in their romance. Since they were fourteen, they had dedcided that they were ready to make commitments and become soulmates. In high school, all was going well until the boyfriend "was forced" to have sex with another girl, proving his own lack of commitment. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the girl, so they decided that the only way out of the nasty predicament was to murder the girl with whom he had voluntary intercourse (how's that for outcome-based education's solutions?). The two planned a brutal murder- snapping the young lady's neck. When this proved difficult, the boy's "solumate" used athletic weights to bludgeon the girl. Since she wasn't dead, the boyfriend decided to take life into his own hands and fire two shots into the girl's head.

Now, a year later, the two teens stand trial and, according to the attorneys involved, we are supposed to be sympathetic since they will be held in separate jails. Oh, I'm crying already! What they forget is that no matter how much in love these two delinquents thought they were, the fact stands that they have brutally murdered someone with the sick and perverse intentions that dictate the actions of such luminaries as Gacy, Dahmer and others. While the two unquestionably deserve capital punishment, leave it to the United States justice system to produce a sympathetic judge who will understand their inhuman actions perfectly, resulting in shorter sentences than most bank robbers get.

Despite the trend that MTV promotes, society needs to remember that immature teenagers deserve to be taken at face value because they (we) are that and only that. A society that doesn't valueyouthful freedoms and frolic pushes the envelope of incontestable robbery, which is a robbery of youth at the expense of those who need literal guinea pigs for a grand social experiment.

Copyright 1996 CSI Publications