Alarm Bells For Those Who Lead Students

I rarely take time to respond to critics. Today, I will. It’s not because I feel the need to defend myself, but because the students we lead are at risk if we bury our heads in the sand.

There are some well-intentioned academicians out there who’ve read Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, and thought I was too alarmist. They say things like: “Hey, adults always felt that teenagers were disrespectful, lazy and aimless. Why all of a sudden is the issue so earth-shattering?”

I can understand this sentiment. In fact, for most of the thirty-two years I’ve worked with young people, I was the one saying it. Today, however, I am not. Let me tell you the difference between our concern for students in our culture today, versus thirty years ago, or even three centuries ago.

1. We have a bulge in the youth population, much like we did as the Baby Boomers came of age in the 1960s. Today, the bulge is in dangerous places.

2. Technology allows information to reach young people without the filter of a caring adult or parent. Kids don’t need adults to get information.

 3. Thanks to social media, youth can converge (we now call it a flashmob) on a location and do whatever they wish: steal, rape, kidnap, pillage.

This can be a good thing, as we saw in Cairo this past January where the “youth revolution” ousted their failing president. It can also be a bad thing, as we’ve seen more recently in Chicago or London.

The bottom line? Millions of students have little guidance or boundaries. To them, the adult population, by and large, has no moral authority. Look at how we’ve handled our money (credit card debt, mortgage foreclosures and even government bankruptcy) and look at how we’ve handled our marriages and families (high divorce rates and 62% of kids today growing up without their biological father). So, while society has had evils in the past, the potential for implosion today is higher than ever, thanks to the youth population and ubiquitous technology.

In the Generation iY book, I made some predictions that have already come true. First, the expanded youth population will lead to riots and revolutions. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in the Middle East: Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen. Get ready to watch CNN or Fox News as these kids express themselves in the years ahead.

I also made a prediction about long-term commitment. I forecast that by 2030, a five-year marriage contract would be normal. Today, lawmakers in Mexico have joined two other nations in proposing short-term marriages, as little as two years.

I am not a prophet of doom. I am asking that adults wake up to the need to lead. We must re-establish our moral authority. For many adolescents, we have no credibility. Many of our kids around the world are a part of a “leader-less generation.” We didn’t stick to the values we claimed to live by, we haven’t been transparent about our mistakes and we haven’t offered a clear compass for our kids.

Am I making too big of a deal over this?  I hope so. Let me know your thoughts.


(For a copy of Generation iY, go to:

Alarm Bells For Those Who Lead Students