How Suburban Design Is Failing Teen-Agers

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Carolyn Barbero
“Mini” Essay
English 101- 22
MW 12:00-1:15pm

In a 1999 New York Times piece, “How Suburban Design Is Failing Teen-Agers,” William L. Hamilton, a reporter, poses the question “are the parents attempts at a better life for their children failing their children?” Is the isolation that the parents sought from the inner-city really alienating the children once they become teen-agers? Mr. Hamilton goes on to say that urban planners and architects are beginning to rethink their designs. Suburban design is being criticized for lacking an outlet for teens, thus creating a monotonous day to day life. The cookie-cutter, vehicle focused consumer communities have effectively isolated and slowly eroded individuality. The teens are bored and need more than the mall or a friends home. With this boredom and lack of stimulation, school related tragedies are on the rise in these isolated confines sprawled across suburban and exurban America. Community planners and architects have acknowledged leaving out the teenage group from their designs, unfortunately realizing their blunder after seeing the unforseen consequences of idle teens. Parents endeavor to create this ideal perfect world for their children, but do not consider the negative affects that they are imposing on them. With the strict boundaries that are forced upon them by living in these uniformed communities, it is common for teens to be anchored at home, while their parents are commuting to and from work in the cities. This has significantly increased the number “latchkey kids” all across the United States. In addition to the day to day pressures that teenagers face with being left at home alone, school, and extra curricular activities, teens do not have a creative outlet to personalize themselves, or to carve their own unique niche in this world to become well-rounded individuals in a crucial time when they need to be able to get out there explore the world....
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