Think of the children. Routinely arrested

Policeman ca. 1920. Unidentified (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

The various National Longitudinal Surveys done annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have provided data for researchers for over 40 years. One of the groups tracked by the BLS is a cohort of young people; the most recent study is called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97).

NLSY97 consists of a nationally representative sample of approximately 9,000 youths who were 12 to 16 years old as of December 31, 1996. Round 1 of the survey took place in 1997. In that round, both the eligible youth and one of that youth’s parents received hour-long personal interviews. Youths continue to be interviewed on an annual basis.

The results of an analysis of criminal arrest data from NLSY97 was published in the official journal of the American Association of Pediatrics on Monday. What did the data show?

By age 23, up to 41 percent of American adolescents and young adults have been arrested at least once for something other than a minor traffic violation.

Charles Pierce puts it in perspective:

Children today grow up surrounded by the police power of the state, both the soft and hard versions of it. At almost every level of their lives, they are policed, in one way or another, either by the police themselves, or by administrators and bureaucrats to whom the police and the courts have subcontracted the job. They have no Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights as soon as they walk through the schoolhouse door. They are searched. They are tested for drugs. Their rights of free expression are tightly circumscribed. Rights unexercised atrophy. We have raised, and are now raising, generations of children who are completely ignorant of the rights they have as citizens, and we are doing it through the application of the most coercive powers the state possesses.

One comment

  1. I said this 20 years ago, when I was in school, and nobody listened. It’s gotten progressively worse since then. Before if you were “rebellious” or had your own sense of self, you were beat down (verbally or physically), and threatened with expulsion. Now if you act out, you’re beat down and if that doesn’t work, you’re drugged into compliance.

    Want to know a scarier statistic? Find out how many of those kids are also put on mind altering drugs at a young age to “fix” their ADHD, or their depression, or their rebelliousness in general. I bet you get >95% overlap with the 40% arrested, and that your total is closer to 75% (higher in rich communities, lower in poor ones).

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