Young America Takes Over the Colleges:
The Two Worlds of the School
The commemorative postage stamp issued in honor of Youth Month (September 1948) depicts a welldressed boy and girl, striding forward, with school books clutched under their arms. It neatly symbolizes a major article of the American creed: American Youth, through Education, is the Hope of the World.
The United States has developed an accent on youth which has no parallel in modern Western nations. A United States Department of Labor Bulletin on family expenditures in Chicago has shown that in families with three children of whom one at least is under sixteen years of age, the clothing expenditures for the children exceed those for husband and wife combined in all income groups up to $7,500 a year. Voluntary donations for research and treatment connected with infantile paralysis, it is well known, are entirely disproportionate to the actual incidence of the disease and its mortality rate, compared, let us say, with cancer, that efficient killer of the adult. Our mass media of art and enlightenment—movies, radio, television, etc.—are designed for youth. Our advertising is addressed to ever younger consumers, today more and more the controllers of the family budget. And even the advertising addressed to the adult is often designed to awake uneasiness concerning his children’s regard: “Your son will be proud of you if you drive this car.” But over and above these considerations, there is the affirmation of youth as the protected and cherished period of life. One of the more querulous objections to conscription was that our American youth would lose out on the golden years, the years of carefree enjoyment, dalliance, and irresponsibility—roughly from sixteen to twenty-four.
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