Kids And The News
It’s a strange time to be watching the news and having to explain it to our older children who encounter the news whether we want them to or not. Consider some of the big news stories that have made huge headlines in the past few weeks:
Thousands of Americans have set up tent cities in U.S. communities nationwide -- outgrowths of the Occupy Wall Street movement -- protesting the widening gap between the earnings of the rich (“the 1 percent”) and the not-rich (“the 99 percent”), the persistent lack of jobs and the overall feeling of betrayal experienced by twentysomethings who are saddled with college debt but are unable to find gainful employment.
Some of the protests have been peaceful. Others have become violent with police cracking down on the Occupiers, as they did recently in Oakland with tear gas and “flash-bang grenades,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, making it look like a scene from Greece’s recent austerity protests, or the Middle East where protests, both peaceful and violent, have been thriving since the spring.
Just as footage of the Oakland skirmishes was dominating the news, a new study released by the Congressional Budget Office made things look even bleaker. It found that over the past 30 years, the top 1 percent of U.S. wage earners have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent, while those in the middle - 60 percent of U.S. workers - only saw their incomes increase by 40 percent over that same time period, the CBO said.
This dovetailed nicely with the New York Magazine’s recent cover story depicting unemployed twentysomethings - the very people who comprise a large proportion of the Occupy groups - as living in a “post-hope” America with writer Noreen Malone lamenting, “This is not just a rotten moment to be young. It’s a putrid, stinking, several-months-old-stringy-goat-meat moment to be young.” It’s rainbows and unicorns out there, huh?
In the meantime, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was found and killed under murky circumstances as bloody, gory, disturbing photos and videos of him - both dead and alive - have been so widely circulated that it was almost impossible for kids who are paying any attention at all, to miss. (Luckily I was able to keep my 10-year-old from seeing the images.)