Young people are currently caught between the collapse of old social forms and the creation of new, with no guidelines on how to operate in the present. Their present impact on society is in questioning old values and demanding that social issues be responsibly dealt with.
In any community, in different degrees, young people encounter difficult problems, which derive not from their own inadequacies, nor in many cases from those of their education, but from changing economic situations, rapid technological change, severe environmental pollution, institutional systems that spawn poverty and discourage efforts to improve one's lot, the application of inefficient economic theories, rapid growth of armaments, and so on. Young people find themselves living in a society which does not make enough effort to resolve the problems with which they are confronted. They have difficulties in finding satisfying, productive and gainful employment. Gradually they have become indifferent and listless. They have a sense of frustration and alienation and feel themselves undervalued and powerless. Feeling that they are being manipulated to ends that do not reflect their aspirations, many have become weary. They realize that what they are being told to do is not useful now, nor is it useful for the future.
Without the joy of creativity, the young have lost their characteristic enthusiasm. Robbed of their right to a better future, young people feel profoundly disillusioned, confused, discouraged and de-motivated; they are amputated of that which should be their most precious right. Gradually they have become indifferent and listless. Robbed of their right to a bright future, young people feel profoundly disillusioned, confused, discouraged and de-motivated; they are amputated of that which should be their precious possession -- a joyful expectation of the future.
The percentage of 18- to 29-years olds in the USA who think they have a very good chance of achieving "the good life" fell from 41% in 1978 to 21% in 1993. In 1967, 83% of USA college freshmen thought it was essential to develop a philosophy of life; this had fallen to 39% in 1987.
The rapid spread of secularism in the rich world, without any social ethos to take the place of traditional religious values, is the cuase of the rootlessness and the sense of worthlessness which drives the young gernation to seek trancendental or psychedelic meanings in dangerous drugs and to resort to violence in the streets. Urbanization is spreading so fast that nearly 60 percent of the populaiton now lives in urban and peri-urban areas and 70 percent will be urban inhabitants by the end of the century. What does this mean for children caught in the cusp of change? With no outer space to live in, they find attractive inner space in drugs, in video-game parlours and in the sprarkling inanities of television.