Staunton, October 20 – There are three categories of problems in Russia: those unique to that country, those where the Russian problems are very similar to those in other countries, and those where nearly universal problems have a particular Russian twist. The case of runaways is in the third group.
While reliable statistics about the number of runaways in Russia are lacking, several regional studies and some high-profile mediagenic cases with tragic endings have attracted the attention of educators and psychologists to this problem. And they have come up with some disturbing findings.
One study, reported by Kazan’s Business-Gazeta portal, concluded that the problem has its roots in the attitudes of parents born in the 1990s, attitudes that are very different than those of their parents, and in changes in the school environment where bullying and other forms of abuse have become more widespread (business-gazeta.ru/article/443189).
Parents in the 1990s have to deal with the difficulties of adolescent children familiar to parents everywhere, but in contrast to most, including their own parents, they have adopted one of two attitudes that can often drive children away. Either they reject their children as burdens – about 38 percent of Russian mothers now do – or less often they smother their children with attention.
Either can drive teenage children to conclude that they would be better off elsewhere and thus to run away, psychologists say. And that is all the more likely if the children are being bullied or otherwise mistreated in schools – and the parents do not intervene to help but instead act in ways that compound the problems their children are having outside the home.
What makes this trend worth reporting is that Russian psychologists are linking it to the experiences of the parents in the difficult transition years of the 1990s, another indication that those years are continuing to cast a shadow on Russia and have not been overcome whatever the Putin regime likes to claim.