A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence

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A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence, by Patricia Hersch a. Respond to the scenario that prompted Hersch’s statement that “This kind of tolerance amounts to a new ethic of situational excuses, a hazy sense of right and wrong.” What are the cultural factors at play in this scenario? This book, having been written in 1998, offers an interesting perspective on how much things have changed since that time. Having had the opportunity to work with clients incarcerated in the Department of Community Justice’s Secure Treatment Facility, I have had the benefit of seeing the differences – from then to now – apparent in culturally centered criminal thinking and behavior. Although criminal thinking and behaviors witnessed in the prior decade were truly disturbing, adolescent behavior today is far more heinous and widespread than most people realize. Many would say that little had been accomplished to mitigate the rampant racism and inequality pervasive at the time when gang activity grew in the 1980’s, and today, people might say that not much more than lip service has been provided to solve this abhorrent social problem from then to this day. Having had limited instruction in this complicated issue, I’m unable to use more than supposition to describe how I view gang related behavior. I focus on gang activity because the social isolation suffered by many children has left few options for family oriented connections. I feel that the economic disparity that has grown increasingly worse over these many years plays a major role in the rise in gangs and gang-like activity. The resulting increase in poverty has produced a rise in anger and frustration that is exhibited by more than one race, cultural, or e... ... middle of paper ... ...nts from a position of power rather than as an interpreter and mentor of moral reasoning. Fortunately, in the case of Mr. Vance he was able to understand that many adolescents have an innate ability to see through the hogwash that adults often present as wisdom. Additionally, he understood that it’s far better to meet children half way in any important conversations relating to their lives. In counseling parlance, this is called Motivational Interviewing and Vance used the technique of “rolling with resistance” to engage his audience. This very effectively diffuses the adversarial relationship between the adult and the youth, thus fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect. This interaction may have shown a number of these rather cynical youth that there are ways to interact with the adult world without conflict being an expected outcome (Hersch, pp. 93–95).

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