La Vida Loca Sucks

Certain cultural differences in behavior frustrate our attempts to explain them, especially if the behavior is, shall we say, less then desirable.

Why are most serial killers white? Why do black teenagers get pregnant more often than other adolescents? And why do gay men have such horrific taste in music (I can’t prove that with stats, but you know I’m right).

Still, a new study purports to show that when it comes to negative behavior, Latino teens are in a reckless class by themselves. According to the researchers, Hispanic students are more likely to attempt suicide than their black or white peers are. They are also more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol and more likely to drink booze on school property. As far as drug use, they were more likely to use cocaine, heroin or ecstasy, and they were more likely to be offered or to sell narcotics. Finally, they were more likely to skip school because they feared for their safety.

This is a catalog of cataclysm. Apparently, the only reprehensible behaviors that Latino teens are less likely to indulge in, when compared to blacks and whites, are smoking cigarettes or watching excessive amounts of television. Well, I’m sure they also shop at Abercrombie & Fitch less and attend fewer Tyler Perry movies, but the researchers didn’t ask that.

When asked to explain why Hispanic students are so messed up, the researchers gave a concise and very scientific answer of “Fuck if we know.”

I must admit that I too can’t explain why Hispanic teens are more likely to be depressed, high, or rolling around unbuckled with drunken drivers. Even my personal experiences don’t help clarify matters. At one point, of course, I was a Latino teenager. And like all teenage guys, I had the occasional run-in with alcohol, fast driving, and cute girls. But I don’t recall ever selling cocaine or dropping E during class or being terrified to go to school.

There seems to be a cultural disconnect, fueled perhaps by America’s de facto segregation. Or maybe it is the desperate need that afflicts too many minority kids, which is to be street and keep it real (even if that so-called real behavior is simple idiocy). Regardless of the reasons for this societal freefall, Hispanic parents might want to take a moment to talk to their kids, rather than just assume that they’re experiencing things that all other teens have to endure. Clearly, they’re not. 


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June 2008
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