The 90’s — 00’s and The Fall Of Role Models

In the 90’s TV shows started to change for the worst, it showed kids, teens and young adults rebelling against their parents, laws, rules, and regulations. Cartoons of the 90’s began to follow these same trends. Cartoons like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Pinky and The Brain, and Beavis and Butt-Head promoted rebellion and violence and started to teach kids that crime is OK and so is violence.

Beavis and Butt-head talk about sex, drugs, and promoted violence in every episode. As a child or an young adult, this could be viewed as acceptable without proper role modeling. Parents promoted violence by allowing their children to watch Cartoons like Beavis and Butt-head. The decision to allow these cartoons also aided their children in making bad choices.

Not only was TV shows and cartoons promoting rebellion, now radio had took a turn for the worse as well. Kids, teens, and young adults are hearing rebellion in the music that was being played everyday. Los Angeles Times writer Frank B. Williams Wrote a report in 1995 about “How Rap Music Got It’s Bad Name” Williams talks about rap music promoting violence and even had up and coming rappers committing crimes to gain street credit to secure a record deal.

The Diplomats rap group

In 2014 the staff for Thy Black Man wrote an article about the violence rapper promote though their music and how young listener try to live that lifestyle. Music of the late 80’s til today promotes heavy violence, Drug use, sex, disrespecting women, not to honor the police or authority and to disobeying rules and regulations.

Heather Nolan, juvenile justice youth and family specialist supervisor at the Illinois Youth Center-Kewanee, speaks at a news conference held by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees prior to Wednesday’s hearing on the closing of the center.

In the 90’s-00’s some after school programs started closing due to lack of funds. Places like the neighborhood Boys and Girls Club and youth centers also lost funds and had to close. Mike Berry for Gate House Media Illinois wrote an article about the closure of youth center in Kewanee, Illinois. “To save money and deprive troubled youth the services they need” Berry said. More and more resources are closing up for the youth of today. Washington Post writers Megan Greenwell and Hamil R. Harris wrote an article on The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, one of the region’s largest youth organizations with a long history of helping underprivileged children, will close four clubs, sell others and lay off one-sixth of its staff as part of a major restructuring to cope with a $7 million deficit.

How are we helping our youth by closing the doors to all their dreams?

Kids have no outlet to inspire them, teens and young adults motivation to dream big are dwindling by the second every day, and they are left to hang out with the wrong crowds. The Boys and girls clubs in neighborhoods that stay open are becoming stricter on who can come, age limits, programs and regulations. Programs and clubhouses that moved out of the “Good” neighborhoods and into bad ones put parents, kids, teens, and young adult at risk of gangs and violence that they’ll have to pass through. As a lack of resources and role models the youth are starting to drop out of school, get in to drugs, and committing crimes. Now children, teens and young adults have to stay in the house and raise their self, due to lack of outlets or play outside, take a risk walking through gang infested neighborhoods to get to a clubhouse just to do something positive and stay out of trouble.

It’s as if these after school programs and clubhouses expect kids, teen and young adults to risk their lives to come there. Majority of the kids get shot by stray bullets, dues to a turf or gang wars. Some kids get beat up, get robbed, raped or ever worst. The lack of resources and role models has trickle down to the next generation and the following generations. This also play a role in the lack of role models for kids, teens and young adults today.


A report done by WTTW stated that 42,000 of Chicago’s youth alone, don’t have a high school diploma and one out of four still may not get their high school diploma. They also states;

What does the future look like for a high school dropout?

  • Unemployment — 48% of high school dropouts were unemployed in 2010
  • Low salary — The average annual salary of a high school dropout is approximately $13,400, less than half the yearly wage of a person with an Associate Degree
  • Poverty — 58% of high school dropouts are likely to rely on public assistance and will to be able to afford their own home
  • Substance Abuse — dropouts experience increased drug use and alcoholism
  • Incarceration — 51% of Illinois prisoners are high school dropouts
  • Hunger — 43% of families headed by high school dropouts will experience hunger


How does this affect our community?

  • A less productive and competitive workforce
  • Greater reliance on public assistance
  • Millions of dollars in lost tax revenue for local governments — a dropout will cost a net average of more than $70,000 while a graduate will make a net contribution of approximately $236,000
  • Increase in violence and crime and a decline in public safety
  • More crime means more incarcerations. The cost of housing an inmate is approximately $22,000 annually.

Alarming statistics from the lack of funds, resources closing up and poor role modeling. The Atlantic writers Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn wrote an article about “The At-Risk-Youth Industry” explaining how owner of prisons and youth centers for juveniles are not rehabilitating our youth.

Because there’s poor role models, there are less fathers in the homes today. Due to these men not being shown what a father’s responsibilities look like. There are more broken up families with kids going to mom’s house that in one part of the city and dad’s house in another. Two houses, two set of different rules to abide by and two different parenting styles.

Confusing enough?

I interviewed a former foster child Woodrow Forrest Jr, 26 year old male born and raised in Bloomington, Illinois. Forrest’s relationship with his parents was “off and on” he stated, and there were 19 children including himself. He had five sister out of the 19 children. Growing up he seen many different men with his mother and they moved from town to town, so he had no positive role models in his life at the time.

His mother Gloria Dorsey gave up on them and abandoned them so they were taken away into foster care. Forrest was only six year old at the time. They all were separated in different towns, and even different states. A few went in pairs, but most were alone and in different homes. Forrest stated that some of his siblings were old enough to live on their own, and did so. He lost contact with both parents and visitation didn’t come that often. Not knowing who to trust or let in his heart, He stated that he had lost all hope for guidance and inspiration and didn’t feel he had anyone to believe in. “I felt lost and neglectedForrest stated. He would form serious anger issues and lash out on others randomly. After seven long years Forrest’s father finally was able to gain custody of him and their bond became stronger.

His trust in his father was shattered and he rebel against his father for the first six months, due to him struggling with abandonment issues. His father never gave up on being a positive role model for him while he rebel. Soon thereafter Forrest realize that his father wasn’t going to ever leave again. He stated he started to see the truth in his father’s words and action’s. That led to the start of inspiration and goal setting. Forrest’s father wanted him to know that he was loved and he was there for him. Even helping him achieve some of his goals to show Forrest that he was here to stay and wanted better for his life. “ My father inspired me to become a better person, and gave me knowledge to help me move on through my bad experiences from foster careForrest stated. My interview with Forrest was very inspiring and very emotional, so we took a break so that Forrest could gather himself.

When we continued with the interview I ask Forrest, how his experiences in foster care, and not having a role model at a young age has effected him as an adult?

Looking back on my life, growing up in foster care was horrible. I’m just grateful to be alive and I wouldn’t change one thing about my life”.

Why, I asked.

Forrest answered.

I’m older now, so I understand my situation a lot more. I don’t have abandonment issues anymore and I’m proud to be my father’s son. My father has pass away, but not before he showed me what a man’s responsibilities to his family are, and what a father’s responsibilities to his children should be. I have a two year old daughter of my own and a three week old baby boy that I’m grateful for. I would not be the man I am today had it not been for my experience in foster care, and my father fighting for seven years to get me back, and being a positive role model for me. My father was and will always be my hero. He never gave up, he instilled morals and values in me, to pass on to me children”. For these reasons and many more Forrest said he would not change his life. His experiences has help him become a even better man and father to his own children.

Growing up with positive role models are key to a child success in life. It’s plays a vital role in the goals they set for themselves. It teaches children of all ages to dream and chase their dreams. Woodrow Forrest would not be the man he is today, without his father guidance and inspiration. Role models like my grandfather Bill motivated me in my youth, and many other children in the neighborhood to think outside the box and not to be afraid to try. We as parents have loss the motivation to be an positive role model for the youth, and we need to get back to inspiring the youth. We need to stop letting TV, music, cartoons, social media, electronics, and the ways of the world raise our youth.

How can we get involved?

Its starts with the trouble youth in your own neighborhoods. Just talking to poverty-stricken children can be life changing for them. Might be the only love shown to them all week and it cost you nothing, but time out you scheduled. Getting involved in your local homeless shelter. Volunteering to help with feeding the homeless and filling in for laid-off workers can help. We can volunteer at the local Boys and Girls Club to help be role models for trouble youth and poverty-stricken children. Most clubhouses are short staffed and are in desperate need of volunteers to help out.

We can get involved in programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters where helping to mentor, guiding and inspiring poverty-stricken children is always needed. Most of the poverty-stricken children come from single parent homes, in most cases there’s very little guidance and motivation in their lives. Helping change their future can become vital and can lead to them becoming a role model for generations to come. Finding after school programs to volunteer for in the city or town you live in can help keep the door from closing due to lack of funds. Helping volunteer to be a teachers aid in classrooms can be of help. Local churches are another great place to volunteer for, and help be apart of children’s lives who aren’t so fortunate.

Even going down to the local juvenile detention centers to talk to troubled youth and letting them know that they are loved, can inspire them to change their ways. Hosting youth events in your neighborhoods, to give troubled youth and poverty-stricken children a positive atmosphere can become life changing for them. Showing love to children who have no one to love them, helps motivate their state of mind. Going down to your local police stations and asking how to get involved in troubled youth can help the law enforcement out as well.

Wikipedia meaning of role model: A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can emulate by others, especially by younger people.

In other words…

Not just talking the talk, but walking the walk while guiding, motivating, teaching, and inspiring other to do the same in a similar fashion.

Together we can change the path of the troubled youth and the futures of poverty-stricken children across the globe.