Are high income kids "at risk"?

There are a few threads going on about the Northbrook HS girls hazing incident. One reason I suspect this is getting so much pub is that the north shore suburbs of Chicago are extremely wealthy. I think folks are surprised at the extreme behavior committed and tolerated by these children of privilege, as well as their parents’ apparent toleration if not assistance in such acts.

Also in the news right now, are a couple of incidents from the western suburbs, where families went on vacation over spring break, and friends of the families’ high school kids threw wild parties and trashed the houses.
One of these occurred in Glen Ellyn/Wheaton, and the other in Hinsdale.

You may recall an incident earlier this school year, where a group of HS boys in Hinsdale videotaped themselves having sex with a semi- or unconscious teenage girl in one of the boys’ homes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the western suburbs, Hinsdale and Glen Ellyn, and to a lesser extent Wheaton, are at or near the top of their county in terms of household income, house price, etc.

These events got me wondering. At the other end of the spectrum, in very impoverished communities, perhaps teenage misbehavior may be exhibited in gang or crime behavior.

But I don’t seem to hear of events as extreme as these coming from - say - more middle class or working class communities. Is this an accurate perceptionon my part, or is it just that hazing and vandalism committed by middle class kids is not publicized as widely.

If my perception is correct, and there seems to be a correlation between such extreme misbehavior and wealth, what do you imagine might be reasons for such a correlation?

(NOTE: one reason I am concerned is that I live in one of the western suburbs mentioned above, and my kids apparently go to school with the kids who do these things. I’m trying to figure out what might cause my neighbor kids to go so wrong, and what I can to to keep my kids from acting similarly.)

Remember too that Columbine HS is in one of the nicest Denver suburbs.

Perhaps some kids have an inflated sense of entitlement, having been given much as children, or having not had to work hard for what they have. These children might think that they are above the rules, based on what they have learned from their parents and peers. If they see their parents cheat and win, they will think that’s the way to play. I can see that view leading to “the rules don’t apply to me” behavior like this.

I know in my experience, economics had nothing to do with who drank or took drugs in HS, and fights seemed to be rich-on-rich and porr-on-poor, rather than rich-on-poor or vice versa.

Of course, you could also argue that this latest incident is only widely reported because it was videotaped. Maybe if the poor and working-class kids brought video cameras to school, we’d see more! :wink:

I’d guess high-income kids just get more press when they misbehave. It’s not expected of them, same idea behind Elizabeth Smart getting so much press, but not the hundreds (thousands?) of other kids kidnapped every year. Sadly, no one cares about poor kids smacking each other around and making hoodlums out of themselves, but when the rich supposedly “good” kids do it - it’s news.

Well first of all, it’s silly to assume wealthy people are any more or less dishonest, immoral or virtuous than poor people. They are just people…who happened to have money.

People always seems so surprised when something bad happens in a wealthy community. Money does not protect you from the realities of life. Wealthy people drink, do drugs, get into fights commit crimes and do stupid stuff just like poor and middle class folks.

IMHO, the reason wealthy kids get into this kind of trouble is because:
a) their wealth ensures they have no real hardships in life. With no real problems, they have more time to worry about things like status.

b) they have too much time on their hands. People with too much time on their hands get bored and do stupid shit to idle away the hours like taking drugs/alchohol, breaking stuff or pulling pranks

c) they have too much money - Money both provides the means to implement any crackpot idea while providing an insulating factor against consequences. Why not drive like a nut and crash your BMW if you have the means of replacing it at will?

d) they watch too much TV - as cliche as it is, a lot of these kids probably have no parental supervision and do nothing but hang out watching TV and surfing the Net which does nothing but feed them a fantasy world. I wonder if any of them considered that breaking and entering a home, trashing it, stealing firearms and then burning the house to the ground are all felonies or if they simply thought it would be a funny gag to roll gangsta style for awhile.
Really it all comes down to how the kids were raised. I had a pretty good idea as a kid if I pulled this kind of crap my parents would kill me.

msmith537 is onto something with the lack of parental supervision. If both parents are working so hard to maintain their upper-class lifestyle, they’re probably too busy to spend much time with their kids. I’m not talking about making it to the kids’ recitals or soccer matches–I’m talking about, “hey, help me clean up the kitchen,” every day, quantity time.

And it does seem that these kids are growing up with a terrific sense of entitlement, fostered by their parents. If you have everything given to you and all the adults in your life tell you how smart and talented you are, hell, why wouldn’t you think you could get away with anything?

Mind you, all of this is speculation. I grew up in a very middle-class home and went to inner-city schools, so I can’t comment with too much authority on the inner lives of the very well-off.

A rather famous study (yeah, I know…I don’t have the cite:smack:) showed that working class kids were more likely to get their misbehavior nipped in the bud. The higher the parent’s economic and social standing, the more likely neighbors were to look the other way, police to issue a warning rather than arrest them, school officials to give them one more chance. Upper class kids were looked at with a “kids will be kids” indulgence; they grew up and got on with their lives. Lower class kids ended up in juvie, which was either a wake-up call or, more often, the start of a downward spiral.

So maybe kids of different economic groups do the same things, but poorer kids get caught sooner.

I had a friend from an upper-middle class home who used to shout “I HATE YOU” whenever her mother tried to reign her in, which wasn’t that very often.

The rest of my friends would exchange looks whenever she would do this. We knew that we couldn’t get away with that kind of stuff in our households.

I read somewhere that in poor households, everyday survival is the top priority, so that the inquisitiveness and natural rambuctousness of poor children are squashed early on because the parents don’t have time or energy to answer “silly” questions like “Why can’t I listen to the radio in the bathtub?” They get the standard, “BECAUSE I SAID SO, DAMMIT! I AIN’T GOT TIME TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS!” Rich kids are more likely to be allowed to “explore”. They are also allowed to get away with more because the people who should discipline them–their parents–aren’t used to being subject to the rules and authority that poor parents deal with on a daily basis.

I went to a high school that had a mixture of incomes. I always noticed that the kids who got assigned detention tended to be poor or lower middle class. But I knew the rich kids weren’t blameless. They would skip classes and drive their nice cars up to the McDonald’s during lunch. They would have wild drunken parties and brag about it the next day. But they were also in the National Honor Society and all of the AP classes. The teachers often mistook their mischieviousness for “charm”.

They got breaks that the poor kids didn’t get, but as a group I don’t think the rich kids were hellions either.

Being in an academic line of work but growing up in a neighborhood where it was generally believed “two cars that work = rich”, I manage to pretty much see “all kinds”. Here is what I’ve seen.

If we go by “native propensity”, the rich and the poor have roughly the same share of “to-the-core bad-uns”. These are the instigators, the ones who try the trouble first and try to spread it around.

What differs greatly, as has been mentioned before, is the treatment that the rich and the poor get if they’re caught. The rich can count on social forgiveness for far more than the poor can count on. This breeds contempt for society and feelings of social invulnerability. Look at the sentences that used to get handed out for “white collar” crimes. For the most part, they were so light that they might as well have been called sabbaticals as sentences, and the “prisons” that were used were more comfortable and better apportioned than apartments I’ve lived in!

Thus, when executives knew that this was the worst they could face, they acted with complete contempt for the law. Enron. WorldCom. That is the result of going easy on the rich.

Well, I went to high school in the wealthy western suburbs (of the Twin Cities, though. Hmmm…) From what I saw, most of these kids’ parents had their own problems, and basically left the kids to themselves. Also, if you were from the right family (especially one with lawyers!), your misdeeds were more likely to get overlooked by the school, the police, etc. (I don’t think this is just a “rich suburbs” thing–small towns tend to work the same way, from what I’ve seen.) For example, someone set off a pipe bomb in a toilet in the boys’ bathroom (this was pre-Columbine, too.) Several kids were involved, but only one was expelled. He just happened to not have the right connections, whereas the others did (one was even a teacher’s kid, so, while probably not rich, the connections were there!)

These kids also had a lot of pressure. I had little idea–until we did had to do a presentation about ourselves for AP English class my senior year. I mean, if your parent has already made it to the top–stockbroker, lawyer, doctor, etc.–how are you expected to do even better? And, yet, they are. There was a lot of need for escape from that, hence the tendency to turn to parties, pot, drinking, sex, etc. And, mom and dad weren’t always such good moral role models. One kid’s dad got caught up in a big financial scandal. One minute, you live in a million dollar house, and the next minute, your dad’s in jail and you’re trying to figure out how the hell to pay for college. Also, I think that some of those kids’ parents were living a bit beyond their means. Home was stressful. These kids did not always have happy home lives. And, yes, often mom and dad liked to party, too. If they did it, then, yes, they were likely to turn the other way when their kids did it, too. Kids will be kids, and all that. The only real “punishment” that those kids worried about was that you might be suspended from your sports team for a while if you were caught (and that was only because the state’s athletic league mandated that those rules be in place.)

Well, why wasn’t I involved in all this? I wasn’t in their clique, of course. I lived in a middle-class neighborhood in one of the pre-existing small towns that got swallowed up in all this McMansion suburbia, and most of my friends were like me in that respect. Many of my friends were kids who had transfered into the district because of its high reputation. I don’t generally think of this cliqueishness as a good thing, but it might spell relief for the OP–if his kids aren’t in the party cliques, chances are they won’t even be invited or involved. Of course, if the kid resents that…well, that could lead to its own problems.

My WAG is that inner-city kids tend to act out because of the stresses of poverty, and upper-class kids tend to act our because of the stress to succeed, but in the middle and working classes, there’s less stress on either end, and probably more positive parental attention to boot.

short cliched speculation - power corrupts, being young is no exemption.

You know I think the nicey nice suberb people are in denial. They don’t see something until it is too late. They they bitch and complain because they didn’t expect this to happen.

If you think about it, have you people ever heard of a school shooting massacre in the inner city schools? If not it is for two possable reasons.

A: The news angencies ignore it.
B: They just don’t happen at the level of Columbine. They happen but are more under control.

What amazes me is that these things happen at schools with little security, otherwise how could they happen?

IDK, that’s just me with an opinion.

I made a typo here is the correction,

Then they bitch and complain because they didn’t expect this to happen.

I also think that in many cases, the parents have achieved their status by bucking the system in some way- e.g. a good lawyer is always looking for a loophole. In many working class neighborhoods, the teacher/school is seen as both an opportunity, and an authority, and so working class parents would be less likely to question the behavior of a teacher. Not so in the more wealthy neighborhoods.

Or at least that’s been my experience with the kids who go to the exclusive private schooles in the Detroit area.

Kids whose parents are jackasses are “at risk” regardless of income level.
The fact that these parents in some cases knowingly allowed (or even contributed) to this kind of behavior is appalling.

McDiddy’sView, you brought up a couple of interesting points.

One was that shootings don’t happen in inner-city schools. Actually, they happen quite a bit in the LA area, but it pains me to say that we are more used to it and it doesn’t get nationally reported and “oooh’d” over.

The pther point was about schools with little security, which may not be correct either. A couple of years ago, there were two school shootings at seperate high schools in the San Diego area within days of each other. Both schools had decent secutiry, and at least one had it’s own cops. School security will not stop a determined teen.

And I have to say that the “rich-bashing” in here is cracking me up. Sure, if you have money you can hire a lawyer, and if you’re educated the thought occurs to you in the first place. But to say that it’s the really poor and the really rich that are doing all the crime and the middle-class kids aren’t, well, I think I might need a cite.

Crime, like drug and other things, is not something governed by economics. Punishment may be in many cases, but I didn’t think this was a debate about the inequities of our economics-based justice system.

I think rich kids are more at risk for slipping through the cracks. Because it takes a lot for their actions to make a blip on the radar screens, stuff that would earn poorer kids lectures and revoked privileges gets ignored when rich kids do it. Little Andrew got caught with cigarettes and a six pack under his bed? Well, you know, kids will be kids. And besides, he just made captain of the soccer team so let’s just let this slide.

Growing up, I saw a lot of double standards. When race and class correlate as strongly as they did in my high school, the double standards are even more obvious. I saw rich, white kids curse out teachers and throw tantrums that would have gotten anyone else sent to the principal or kicked out of the class. Once one of these bratty characters had the audacity to slap me hard on the face for no reason except for his own entertainment. Astonishingly, he did this right in front of a teacher, who did nothing but say “Now there, don’t do that again.” WTF? I know if Tyrone from the Techwood housing projects had been slapping Becky from Buckhead, that teacher would have pounced on him before the sound from his hand connecting to her face would have even had a chance to be heard.

Poor kids are assumed to be bad kids first. Rich kids are assumed to be good kids first. Both assumptions are wrong.

I’m going to cast my vote for “more publicity for rich kids when it happens.”

The hazing incident is big news and has spawned at least five threads on the SDMB. However, there are periodic reports on gang initiation rites among poor kids, indicating that such events are fairly common. The difference? The poor kids don’t videotape themselves as the hazers or file lawsuits as the hazed. (Note, this is not a claim that all or even a majority of poor kids go through this, I only note that when it does occur among rich or poor, the story is liable to make a bigger splash when it involves the wealthier.)

The same is true of the video-taped rape. It is not common (although it is still too frequent) that a group of guys at a party–rich or poor–will take advantage of a girl who has gotten far too drunk. However, when it happens, who is more likely to have a video camera available and who is more likely to have the story splashed across the news wires?

I can supply lots of anecdotes about rich kids “getting away with” more than poor kids, just as several previous posters have. On the other hand, while some rich parents may use lawsuits to keep their kids from getting in serious trouble (and tarnishing the family’s “reputation”), there are many parents, rich and poor, who simply refuse to acknowledge that their child has a problem (or who are afraid of confronting their child) who never address the actual issues.

I would guess that there are more cases (meaning a greater number of specific events) where a wealthier kid is let off with a reprimand or mild punishment than where a poorer kid would be more harshly punished. (Again, I have lots of anecdotes from cops treating wealthier people with kid gloves and groups where the well-off kids got less severe discipline than poorer kids for committing an act as a group–even when the wealthier kids were the ring-leaders.) However, I do not believe that even with the scales of justice being tilted in specific events, we can draw the conclusion that rich kids have overall worse behavior than poor kids or that they are “more at risk.” The risks are simply different–and rich kids get more publicity.

Oh, you are absolutely right, there. I went to a “good school”–the sort of school that is blazened across real estate ads. Apparently, as long as there aren’t any inner-city gangs (and very few pesky minorities and kids who receive free school lunches), things are hunky-dory. Oh, there was a lot of obliviousness going on there, all right. I think that the tendency is for schools, parents, and the general public to assume that because the kids come from families with money, they are not “at risk”. Well, as we can see, it’s certainly not the case…but that may be why these kids’ behavior seems more shocking and makes the news.

I mean, what parent takes off on vacation and leaves their kids alone and unsupervised? And, yet, it happened. They were “good kids”, after all, so nothing would happen (or, at least, nothing that the parents would catch them at.) Perhaps one difference is that, no matter how much they may trust or not trust their children, middle and working class parents have less opportunity to just take off on vacation in the first place.

I think it’s a little of A and a little of B. I remember vaguely hearing about school shootings when I was in school. I know that several people at my school fantasized about it. School shootings were a given, even in 1994, in our minds. I wasn’t very surprised by Columbine. What surprised me more is how shocked most people were about it, and how much media attention it got. I mean, wasn’t this already happening in other schools? Was it just that this was a suburban school rather than an inner-city school? Yet, we had a bomb go off in our toilet, and it didn’t make the national news. It’s strange what gets ignored and what gets picked up.

Security? Ha, what security? We were “good kids”! Security was for inner-city schools, at least back then. Of course, you are talking about two different things. Most of the things that the rich kids did happened off school grounds, where school security isn’t really an issue. Columbine, however, was a case of “outsiders” getting revenge. So, you can see that even if there is school security, it’s more likely to target those outsiders rather than the rich and popular. Anything that they do is much more likely to be overlooked. Your behavior is much more scrutinized if you are wearing a black trenchcoat than if you are wearing your Champion sweatshirt and Birkenstocks.

Not to ignite a whole other debate, but I think Michael Moore says in Bowling for Columbine that a lot of the suburban schools actually have more security than the inner city ones these days. I’d be interested to see what info that’s based on, since to me it seems relevant.

Every kid is “at risk.” Every single one. All you can do is be the best, most involved parent you can be, and hope for the best.