The poor, lit­tle rich kids of Sil­i­con Val­ley schools

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - DEEP FOCUS -

Alit­tle over a year ago, on Novem­ber 4, 2014, teach­ers at Henry M Gunn School in Palo Alto, made an an­nounce­ment to their stu­dents. Cameron Lee, a pop­u­lar stu­dent, had com­mit­ted sui­cide. The Gunn School is one of two pub­lic schools in Palo Alto. The other is Palo Alto High. The 10-year sui­cide rate for the two high schools is be­tween four and five times the na­tional av­er­age. “Twelve per­cent of Palo Alto high-school stu­dents sur­veyed in the 2013-14 school year re­ported hav­ing se­ri­ously con­tem­plated sui­cide in the past 12 months,” writes Hanna Rosin at The At­lantic.

Places like th­ese schools are called ‘sui­cide clus­ters’, where mem­bers of an Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia schools, which are no­to­ri­ously com­pet­i­tive th­ese days. It is an ex­treme dis­til­la­tion of what par­ents in the mer­i­to­cratic elite ex­pect from a school. The op­por­tu­ni­ties are lim­it­less and the com­pe­ti­tion is tough and the pleas­ant chat­ter among the par­ents con­cerns chances for en­rich­ment,” writes Rosin. But the expectations from stu­dents are just too high.

A large part of it is that af­flu­ence can be dan­ger­ous. Ac­cord­ing to Su­niya Luthar, an as­sis­tant pro­fe­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Yale, there is a U-shaped curve in patholo­gies among chil­dren, by class. At each ex­treme — poor and rich — kids are show­ing un­usu­ally high rates of dys­func­tion. Rich kids, says Luthar, have higher rates of al­co­hol and drug abuse on av­er­age than poor kids, and much higher rates than the na­tional norm.

DEAL­ING WITH IT:

Stu­dents post pos­i­tive mes­sages on the steps of Gunn school

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