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Bad advice in early childhood ruins the future of several generations

According to a recent study, the main reason why Latino men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 35 do not go to college is the bad advice they received before they were eight years old from their parents and teachers. And that is the same reason why Latino men of that age, even if they enroll in college, they seldom complete their studies.

One might think, as the researchers did, that the main reasons for not going to college would include lack of financial resources, or perhaps not enough information about college registration and financial aid, or even (as it is often the case), unavoidable family or work responsibilities. However, bad advice in childhood tops the list.

Because the "bad advice" (or rather, negative expressions about the child's talents and desires) arrives at a vulnerable age in life, and because these expressions come from figures of undisputed authority (at that age, of course), such expressions remain indelibly engraved in the memory and subconscious of the child who, even as an adult, cannot act otherwise than within the framework established by the "bad advice" received years earlier.

I wonder how proud those parents and teachers would be if they could discover the long-term and destructive effect their words and actions have on the lives of their children and students. But the destructive effect of that existential time bomb that explodes years and decades after being activated is much more than just not going to college.

Another recent study indicates that young Latino men in the United States are the less informed group about current events. Many of them don’t read, listen, or watch the news, nor they read news in social networks. As a consequence, the study says, Latino men under 35 are, among all other groups, the most likely group to accept conspiracy theories.

Although neither of the two mentioned studies speaks explicitly about the other, the connection is (or should be) obvious: the lack of formal higher education and, above all, the lack of development of one's own critical thinking (due to bad advice in childhood) creates a kind of intellectual and existential vacuum that is filled with anything that can fill it. Literally anything.

But believing in conspiracy theories and living according to those "theories" is not the worst thing that happens to those young Latinos condemned by their parents and teachers since childhood to never reach a truly adult life. The worst result of the situation we are now describing is that this same negative situation is repeated with the next generation. It's called intergenerational poverty, which has nothing to do with not having money. 

Around 1966 and after decades of research, American anthropologist Oscar Lewis described intergenerational poverty (or culture of poverty) not as a lack of economic resources, but as a "communication gap" that prevents one generation from preparing the other for the future of the younger generation, condemning it to repeat the past and perpetuate the present, without a future. 



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