The Revenge of the Coddled

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Dominic Bouck, O.P., interviews Jonathan Haidt, and they discuss the revenge of the coddled:

I would not want to lead a conversation on this topic with students here at NYU. Not because NYU is more PC than other top schools—it’s not. But professors are much safer these days speaking at other campuses than on their own because it’s only on your own campus that students are going to file harassment charges and drag you before the Equal Opportunity Commission if you say one word that offends someone. So I must heavily self-censor when I speak on my home campus. I can be more provocative and honest when I’m speaking at other schools.

Children are anti-fragile. They have to have many, many experiences of failure, fear, and being challenged. Then they have to figure out ways to get themselves through it. If you deprive children of those experiences for eighteen years and then send them to college, they cannot cope. They don’t know what to do. The first time a romantic relationship fails or they get a low grade, they are not prepared because they have been rendered fragile by their childhoods. So until we can change childhood in America, we won’t be able to roll this back and make room of open debate.

My biggest prescription is that in every hospital delivery room, along with that first set of free diapers, should come the book: Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. If everyone in America read the book Free-Range Kids the problem would be over in 21 years, when the first set of tougher kids filled our universities.

If you try to reach students when they get to college it’s already too late…. As we say in the essay, childhood changed in 80s and 90s, there was much more protectiveness, there were new zero tolerance policies on bullying, which was fine when bullying was linked to physical aggression and to repeated actions. But bullying has gotten defined down over the last twenty years. There’s no longer a connection to physical violence, it no longer requires repetition, and it no longer requires intent. If someone feels excluded or marginalized by a single event, they have been bullied, and there’s zero tolerance for that. So that’s the way kids are socialized by the time they arrive in college…

What I would suggest is that if any school has an anti-bullying policy, they should balance it with an anti-coddling policy. They need to realize they can do a lot of harm if they coddle the students. They turn them into “moral dependents,” a term for people who cannot solve problems by themselves; they are morally dependent on adults or other authorities to solve their problems for them.

I love the interview note at the end:

This conversation took place on November 4. Over the following days, the meltdowns at Yale, Dartmouth, The University of Missouri, and Claremont McKenna College took place.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    Add the loss of privacy into the mix and you get perfect marks, not adults.

    Foreign intelligence agencies must be wringing their hands in evil glee…

    But to quote Al Fin 2101: “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too early or too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.”

  2. Bomag says:

    How about the adult enablers of these children? We’ve loaded up ranks and ranks of administrators who just love making themselves useful by wringing out one more drop of danger from Life™. Not to mention all the liability concerns; insurance regulations; malpractice, blah, blah, blah.

    Kids are anxious to please, so they please adults by being fearful; thus making the adults feel useful when they “save the children”.

  3. Lucklucky says:

    Once again they fail to understand what these kids are. They do not notice the elephant in the room.

    The students are not coddled, they are not afraid of anything, and they don’t care about safe spaces. Those are only Orwellian newspeak tools as a way to get power.

    They are tyrants and Marxist ones at that. They are revolutionary guards.

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