American teens are languishing in a system with little depth, a disregard for developmental needs, and a general misunderstanding of the adolescent process in general. As a result, modern American teens dubiously lead the world in violence, gangs, drug/alcohol addiction, eating disorders, crime, incarceration and other behaviors that did not exist one hundred years ago. Understanding archetypal adolescent development is critical for determining what it is we are really trying to accomplish with teens other than just ?controlling? them.
This talk will take a cross-cultural and historical look at the world of teens, as well as changes experienced decade by decade through the 20th century. Through brief historical looks at media, literature, publications and other dynamics in the past 100 years, attendees will see how adolescence as we know it is a cultural invention. How did countless cultures deal with adolescence for millennia without the need to control, incarcerate or medicate their teens? What happened when we took teens out of the adult world of work and sent them into the classroom? How has modern, compulsory education affected modern teens, and is that model being effective or has it reached a point of diminishing return.
Archetypal adolescent dynamics are approaches that are universal and applicable to all teens, regardless of where or when they exist on the planet. Most traditional cultures created healthy teens and had nowhere near the problems with them that we are experiencing in modern times. It is critical to understand how adolescence looks on any given day, in any given culture. Modern America has created the need for most adolescent control systems, while overlooking the overall process and goals of adolescence. In essence, most modern approaches conflict with archetypal adolescent developmental dynamics.
Bret Stephenson is an adolescent counselor who has worked with teens from more than 100 countries. Specializing in archetypal adolescent approaches, he specializes in issues related to the loss of initiation and rites of passage.