Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities [chapter]

Kathleen Kovner Kline
The Search Institute Series on Developmentally Attentive Community and Society  
THIS REPORT IS about rising rates of mental problems and emotional distress among U.S. children and adolescents. Written by a group of 33 children's doctors, research scientists, and mental health and youth service professionals, the report does three things. 1. It identifies the crisis. 2. It presents what these experts believe to be a main cause of the crisis. 3. And it introduces a new concept, authoritative communities, intended to help youth service professionals, policy makers, and the
more » ... makers, and the entire society do a better job of addressing the crisis. What's the Crisis? THE CRISIS COMES in two parts. The first part is the deteriorating mental and behavioral health of U.S. children. We are witnessing high and rising rates of depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental, emotional, and behavioral problems among U.S. children and adolescents. The second part is how we as a society are thinking about this deterioration. We are using medications and psychotherapies. We are designing more and more special programs for "at risk" children. These approaches are necessary. But they are not enough. Why? Because programs of individual risk-assessment and treatment seldom encourage us, and can even prevent us, from recognizing as a society the broad environmental conditions that are contributing to growing numbers of suffering children. What's Causing the Crisis? IN LARGE MEASURE, what's causing this crisis of American childhood is a lack of connectedness. We mean two kinds of connectedness -close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning. Where does this connectedness come from? It comes from groups of people organized around certain purposes -what scholars call social institutions. In recent decades, the U.S.
doi:10.1007/978-0-387-72721-9_1 fatcat:43itdeqf6fcctaf7kpxni37s3y