As far back as the first century BC, youths were criticized by the Greeks for their bad manners, contempt for authority, tyrannizing their teachers, love of luxury, etc., but Grecian writers didn’t attribute that behavior as a sign of the end of the Grecian world.
It appears that throughout history, adults were not happy with the general disobedience of young people and it was not any different in the 19th-century and 20th-century. If asked, most adults, during these centuries and before, thought that youths’ behavior was worse than ever.
However, Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken bad behavior on the part of the young to mean fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Since the beginning of their religion in the late 19th-century, they have contended that disobedience of young people is on the increase and is one of the marks of the “last days.” Here are some examples of this:
“The Bible foretold that the increase of delinquency would be a sign of the ‘last days.’ It predicted: ‘But know this, that in the last days, critical times hard to deal with will be here,’ for during that time many would be ‘disobedient to parents.’
“Never before has there been such mass disrespect from children on an earth-wide scale. In some countries juveniles now commit ONE HALF of all reported serious crimes, student revolts have paralyzed scores of cities in recent years and some schools have become virtually armed camps. Such conditions are without parallel in history—all evidence of the accuracy of Bible prophecy. These developments show that we are nearing the time when God will remove all delinquents from our earth—both adult and juvenile” g80 9/22
“Alarming is the number of pregnancies among girls under 15.” (Newport News Daily Press, December 13, 1970) The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported: “A significant number of unwed mothers are elementary school girls aged 11 and 12.” w73 9/15
Quotes from the press, the more shocking the better, have regularly appeared in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature over the years, to bolster their contention that exacerbation of delinquency was proof of the end of the world. Now, however, statistics appear to show that change in behavior of the young is underway, but for the better, which would confirm that Jehovah’s Witnesses argument is without any foundation.
Instead of a degeneration of behavior among our generation of young people “…delinquency, truancy, promiscuity, alcohol abuse and suicide are down to levels unseen in many cases since the 1950s. …We should be celebrating young people’s good judgment and self-control — and extolling their parents and teachers,” wrote David Finkelhor in his November 26, 2014 article in the Washington Post, Are kids getting more virtuous?
(Finkelhor is a sociology professor and director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.)
Here are the statistics Finkelhor reported in his article to prove his assertion:
- Arrests for serious violent offenses by juveniles have dropped about 60 percent from 1994 to 2011;
- According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the number of sexual assaults against 12- to 17-year-olds has declined by more than half since the mid-1990s.
- Violent victimization of teenagers at school has dropped 60 percent from 1992 to 2012, according to Justice Department data. School homicides, which rarely number more than a couple of dozen per year, have been lower in the 2000s than they were in the 1990s.
- Suicide, too, is less common. Among 10- to 24- year-olds, the rate declined from 9.24 to 7.21 suicides per 100,000 people from 1991 to 2009.
- Not only is the rate of teenage pregnancy down to record lows in the United States, but the percentage of ninth-graders who say they have had sexual intercourse had declined from 54 percent in 1991 to 47 percent in 2013. The percentage of high schoolers who say they have had four or more sexual partners also has declined.
- Binge drinking by 12th-graders is lower than at any time since surveys were started in 1976. The number of teenagers who have been drunk in the past year is at a record low and the drop for eighth-graders is particularly remarkable. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, half as many high school students said they had driven a car after drinking alcohol in 2011 compared with 1991.
- Compared with 1995, 56 percent fewer youth were running away in 2012. And dropout rates among those ages 16 to 24 are at their lowest, down from 17 percent in 1968 to 6.6 percent in 2013.
After reading Finkelhor’s article, one teacher commented: “I work in education and what I see is an awareness with this generation; a pro-activeness with this generation. This generation wants to be heard, they want their vote to count and they make the time to get out there and vote on the issues. In my opinion, this is being responsible, this is being accountable, this is being hopeful. Looking forward this is positive for the next generation.”
If statistics are correct, and, overall, youths are behaving more responsibly, are Jehovah’s Witnesses going to stop their insidious and deceptive declarations that we live in the “last days” because disobedience of our youth is worsening? If the past is any example of the Witnesses calling wolf over and over again about our living in the “last days” and not apologizing when events proved them wrong, it is doubtful they will change their devious ways, even as young people are disproving Jehovah’s Witnesses false assertions.