Is Juvenile Delinquency a Failure of Imagination?

The Huffington Post:

The 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle was not great filmmaking, but it does endure as a historical curiosity. Even before a word of dialogue is spoken, the movie’s scrolling introduction makes clear that this is not just storytelling, but an earnest public service announcement: “Today we are concerned with juvenile delinquency,” it declares, ” — its causes — and its effects.”

And indeed the nation was concerned with juvenile delinquency in the ’50s. Obsessed, really. Blackboard Jungle captured society’s fear of an entire generation of post-World War II teenagers, who were perceived as disrespectful, alienated, reckless, and most of all dangerous. It’s the same obsession that motivated Sen. Estes Kefauver, a presidential hopeful, to convene a special subcommittee to examine the root causes of juvenile delinquency, a move that landed him and his cause on the cover of Time magazine.

One of the root causes that the lawmakers focused on back then was comic books, an idea that seems quaint today. Another was rock-and-roll, just emerging in the popular culture. Over the years — long before and after 1950s America — experts have targeted everything from genes to poverty to poor parenting and worse teachers as the source of teenage misbehavior.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

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