Why the cool kids from middle school may have trouble down the line
Published last month in the journal of Child Development, it followed the “cool kids” from middle school for a decade. It’s true what they say about peaking too young. The socially precocious teens in middle school fell lower on the social hierarchy by high school. And in their early 20s, they had more problems with drugs and alcohol, more trouble with the law and were less competent in their friendships.
The cool kids from the Virginia study, when compared with their peers at age 23, had a 45 percent greater rate of troubles with alcohol and marijuana use and 22 percent greater rate of adult criminal behavior.
When children do things at 13 that seem more age-appropriate at 16 and 17, that’s a red flag for future problems that parents ought to take seriously, she said.
My middle and high school experiences were in niche environments that were deliberately way different than the typical schools. I was never really bullied, never did any bullying, and I never saw any genuine bullying. The worst I experienced was the occasional ephemeral smart-mouthed punk, but that was it. However, that didn’t preclude me from learning about the concept, to know what to look for so that I could avoid it, assuage it, report it, and not engage in it. My mother told me on more than one occasion that if I ever experienced any school yard bullies, just to handle it rationally, don’t dwell on it, but never forget it either, as one day these kids would be adults who would be asking me for a job. I guess that was her way of saying what this study found, that high status middle schoolers equals low status adults. I think the same is true for high schoolers, too — The most popular jocks are at best competent construction workers, the cool girls are now meth heads and whores in and out of jail all the time.
Then there’s another factor, one not mentioned in this article and probably not broached in the actual study, because it’s too taboo.
Hey, it’s me you’re reading — You knew that if there was any way for me to go there, there was where I was going to go.
Remember, this study is from the University of Virginia, so odds are it involved a lot of middle school students then young adults ten years later from the state of Virginia. That’s Virginia as in the one with a lot of blacks.
The reason the “cool” and “socially precocious” middle schoolers who are “doing things at 13 that seem more age-appropriate at 16 and 17″ wind up getting in a lot of trouble with the law and otherwise in their early 20s isn’t necessarily because there’s a direct link between middle school cool and young adult flunky. It’s that the middle school precociousness and the young adult flunkiness both have the same underlying cause: Blacks mature earlier than whites to explain the former, and black to explain the latter.