Not only does the everyday physical word start seeming dangerous -- to the point where kids expect their parents to wait with them at the bus stop -- so does the psychological world. They could get hurt by an idea they don't know or like. It's "stranger-danger" for the mind: To stay safe, avoid ideas you don't already know and trust!
This is one reason many college students consider free speech cruel, rather than crucial: They are worried it could hurt them or a friend. Best to avoid it.
Watch our video above to learn more about this worrying trend. A transcript of the video is below:
OVERPROTECTION, THE ENEMY OF FREE SPEECH (Transcript)
The constitutional right to free speech has given America civil rights and women's rights... But to a growing number of young people, free speech is just an excuse to hurt. Increasingly, they distrust -- even despise -- free speech.
40% of millennials believe the government should be able to regulate some types of offensive speech. Their elders don't feel this way.
And while this is an age issue, it is not left-right: many students on both sides believe speech they disagree with should be silenced.
About 1 in 5 students of both parties say it's even "acceptable" to use violence to stop someone from speaking. Democracy itself seems...unimportant to them. Less than a third of millennials believe it is "absolutely essential" to live in a democratic country. This is something new. Three fourths of their grandparents believe democracy is essential.
What is making more and more young people so distrustful of democracy? What is making them believe that simply being exposed to ideas they don't share is so dangerous it must be stopped?
Simply this: We have given our kids so little freedom that they are not only unfamiliar with it, they have come to fear it.
For the past generation we have been bubble-wrapping kids, trying to keep them safe from all harm. It started with protecting them from physical harm. We stood under the monkey bars. We padded them within an inch of their lives. A YMCA Camp ditched the "buddy system" because now kids must do things in threes. It's "safer." And regulations piled on, too. For instance, in North Carolina, day care kids weren't allowed to play on a grassy playground until mulch was added to make falling even softer.
But then we were told it's not enough to just keep kids physically safe, we had to protect them emotionally, too. So we gave everyone a trophy. And we started calling up their teachers.
At school, our kids were forbidden to say -- or even think -- things that could possibly hurt another student’s feelings. Everyone started walking on eggshells. Protecting feelings, not free expression, became the ultimate goal in education, in parenting, in our kids' lives.
When the bible of the parenting world, Parents Magazine, was asked "If my child is old enough to stay home alone for a bit, can I go to the dry-cleaners when she has a friend over?" The magazine replied, "Absolutely not! You want to make sure that no one's feelings get too hurt if there's a squabble."
That's right: We were told our kids could not even handle a spat with a friend.
So, we always stepped in. In child development terms, we took away their "internal locus of control."
"without an internal locus of control, you feel like you are a victim of circumstances and powerful others, rather than someone who can handle your own problems, or deal with disputes."
We made them into victims.
Our kids got so used to being over-protected that they began to demand it when they got to college. Now they demand trigger warnings, so no one feels hurt. They demand "safe spaces," even when they're in one of the safest places on earth.
They believe words are violence, when actually, they're just speech... Free speech.
Always protecting our kids didn't help them. It hurt them. They didn't get practice rolling with any punches. If we want young people who aren't scared of free speech -- scared of freedom -- they have to grow up with some.