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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It is estimated that more than 30 million youths will never come into contract with juvenile justice system in the United States. (Laura Nissen1) They are lucky because they will never be labeled as juvenile delinquents. Yet, more than a million youth below the age of 18 will come into contact with the juvenile justice system. (Laura Nissen 1) These are the ones who will be labeled as juvenile delinquents. They will be placed inside institutions for rehabilitation.
The youth today is facing much more difficult challenges and obstacles to their lives. The world that they know now is very much different from that of their parents and their ancestors. They are now more exposed to family problems, vices, antisocial behaviors and criminal acts. Children are much more vulnerable to peer pressures and influences. Statistics shows that “between 1979 and 1989 our youth population declined by 11% and the high school age population declined by 2.8 million.” (George Hart 1995). This is followed by a steady increase in the number of youths placed in confinements. Research shows that “our confined juvenile populations rose steadily and expenditures for juvenile correctional facilities grew from $1.3 billion to more than $2.8 billion dollars.” (George Hart 1995) The present trend of jurisdictional transfers of juvenile delinquents from juvenile courts to adult courts is making the problem of juvenile delinquency a lot worse. It must be stressed that when juveniles are placed under the jurisdiction of adult courts they can be confined in prisons together with adults.
The reality is that we live in a world where the minors are capable of committing a crime as heinous that which an adult offender can commit. The state therefore as the “parens patriae” or the parent or the guardian of its people is responsible for the welfare of its people, especially the minors. It has the duty to pass laws designed to protect and care for the minors within its jurisdiction. The objective is to prevent these minors from further committing delinquent acts, to rehabilitate them and to restore them to mainstream society. It must continue to develop policies and programs to address the needs of the youth and protect them from the risks that they are exposed to. It is because of this reason that the juvenile justice system was created.
Several studies have been made so that the root cause of juvenile delinquency may be addressed. It is worth noting that majority of the cases of juvenile delinquents have problems with school. They are either not studying or they have dropped out of school. Thus, it was suggested that juvenile delinquency has direct relationship with a child’s problems at school. Perhaps, juvenile delinquency is a direct result of a child’s learning disabilities.
According to studies, children with disabilities represent 26% up to 73% of juvenile delinquents. (Katherine A. Larson 358) Accordingly, three theories have been suggested to explain the possible correlation between learning disability and juvenile delinquency. The first is the School Failure Hypothesis. Essentially, this hypothesis states that a child who suffers from learning disability is more likely to fail in school. The failure in school has a negative impact on a child’s self image. To explain further, it is possible that children who suffer from learning disabilities are labeled by their teachers and peers in school as different. Being labeled as different in schools negatively affects a child’s perception of himself which may cause him to alienate himself from his peers and his teachers. Being labeled as different may also cause the child to reject his peers and his teachers and even the institution that they belong which is the school. As these children rebels from social institutions, they are more likely to find acceptance from gangs and engage in delinquent activities. Negative self-image further affects a child’s self image leading to dropping out of school which further leads to delinquency.
Research affirms that children with learning disabilities have significantly higher rates of dropout from schools than children who do not have learning disabilities. (Katherine A. Larson 358). Research also affirms that there is a strong link between difficulty in school and juvenile delinquency (Katherine A. Larson 358). Some research, however states that appropriate intervention at school may decrease the chances of juvenile delinquency of individuals with learning disability.
Another theory which attempts to explain the relationship between learning disability and juvenile delinquency is the Susceptibility Theory. The Susceptibility Theory explains that certain types of personality characteristics result in increased susceptibility to delinquent activity or in the probability of being adjudicated as delinquent. Under this theory, it is not school failure that is the cause of delinquent behavior but rather the personality traits of a child with learning disabilities that makes him susceptible of delinquent behavior. For instance, children with learning disabilities also lack impulse control, unable to anticipate the consequences of their actions and have poor social perceptions. (Shelly Wilson Hook citing Waldie & Spreen 1993) These personality traits make them unable to recognize or interpret people leading to their delinquent behavior.
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If not addressed, the problem of sexual addiction can have adverse consequences for the individual. Because sexual addiction can control the life of a person, these behaviors often lead to losses for the individual. According to Dr. Carnes, sex addicts have reported that they have lost significant persons, events or opportunities in their life as a result of their addiction. These reported losses include loss of partner or spouse, severe marital or relationship problems, loss of career opportunities, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, suicidal obsession, suicide attempts, exposure to AIDS and venereal diseases, and legal risk from nuisance offenses to rape (Edward Millet, 2005, p.3).
Treatment for Sex Addiction
Persons who suspect themselves to be addicted to sex should seek expert help. There are a number of organizations nowadays who help individuals suffering from sexual addiction. Treatment however for sexual addiction is not easy. It is a process that does not end after undergoing the program for a few sessions. It is a process that is continuing.
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Treating a person for sexual addiction is much more difficult than treating other persons who have other kinds of addiction. In alcohol addiction, the goal is to abstain from drinking and to stay sober. It addiction to nicotine, the goal is to abstain from smoking and to use substitutes to cigarettes. In drug addiction, the goal is to stay clean from the use of drugs. The treatment for sex addiction is different. Treating sex addiction means that the participants should lean to have sex within the context of a relationship. The goal is to learn to have sex with the right person. The person undergoing rehabilitation is not taught to abstain from sex but they are taught to have sex only when there is an existing relationship between his or her partner. It only means that random sex with strangers is not included.
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While there are others who do contradict the theory that sex addiction as a medical condition exists there are others who believe that sex addiction is real. The first person who coined the term sex addiction was Dr. Patrick Carnes. He said that this condition is common among many Americans and many have been suffering from this medical condition for several years now. Based on his studies, Dr. Carnes revealed that an estimated 3% to 6% of the population is affected by sex addiction. This is roughly around 16 million Americans both male and female who are groping with this medical condition today. Moreover, based on his studies, out of the total number of individuals who seek help for their sexual addiction 20% are female. He said that the theory that only males are addicted to sex is belied by the findings of his study as both male and female are susceptible to having sexual addiction.
There are a number of studies that associate sexual addiction with various behaviors. These behaviors include frequent masturbation, having multiple extra-marital affairs, having multiple sexual partners, obsession with pornography, practicing unsafe sex, practicing phone or computer sex, exhibitionism, engaging in voyeurism, sexual harassment and molestation. It must however be stressed that sexual addiction cannot be associated with a particular behavior. Sexual addiction is a pattern of behavior related to sex that has adverse consequences to the person who has it.
As of now, it must be stressed there is no form of sexual behavior that may can be directly associated with sexual addiction (Aviel Goodman, 1998, p.1). For a person to be considered to have sexual addiction there must be a pattern of sexual behavior. Engaging in any one of the activities mentioned does not by itself constitute sexual addiction. Neither is sexual addiction determined by the kind of behavior or the frequency or even intensity.
Rather, the sole criterion in determining whether a person has sexual addiction is the relationship of the behavior pattern to his life (Aviel Goodman, 1998, p.1). If the individual has not been able to control his behavior that is related to sex and that this behavior continues despite that it causes harmful consequences on the individual’s life there is sexual addiction (Aviel Goodman, 1998, p.1). Thus, for a person to have sexual addiction it is necessary that the sexual behavior must consume the person’s thoughts and life. It must be so dominating that the person entertains no other thoughts than sex.
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Cases of Sex Addiction
The statements by other psychiatrists, psychologists and social scientists that there is no medical condition known as sexual addiction and that people only have heightened desire for sex are belied by many patients encountered by Dr. Carnes. These patients suffer daily from their addiction to sex which they say is uncontrollable. It is surprising that these persons who have this condition are actually normal people who have a wife or husband, children, family, friends and a stable job. It would appear that these persons are living a normal life outside of their addiction. Yet, their addiction to sex is extreme and beyond control.
A. Case of Mark Laaser
Consider the case of Mark Laaser, a confessed sex addict. At first glance, anybody would not be able to know that Mark is a sex addict. He works as a minister and a counselor. He is happily married to his wife Debbie and has children. He has a secret though. He has an insatiable desire for secret sex. For him, sex seems to temporarily fill a gap in his life. Sex fills the loneliness that he has always experienced in his life. Mark started experiencing these urges when he was still young. At first, he was contented with merely looking at nude pictures which is known as pornography. When he got married, he thought that Debbie will be a solution to his problem. During the first months of their marriage he was happy with their sex life. But his obsession returned during the first year of their marriage. He began looking at nude photos, masturbating frequently and going to massage parlors to have sex with masseurs. The desire to have sex is uncontrollable to the point that he was planning his every visit to the massage parlors. He knew that what he was doing was bad and that he wanted to stop. He knew that it was something to be ashamed of. But he could not stop.
B. Case of Marnie Ferree
Consider also the case of Marnie Ferree, another self-confessed sex addict. Just like Mark Laaser, she too had uncontrollable sexual urges. In her case however, she have sex because she wanted to accomplish certain goals. She wanted to meet certain non-sexual needs such as having a long-term relationship. She thought that she can achieve this goal by engaging in sex with acquaintances, friends and random persons. She admits that sex was pleasurable but that was not important for her. All she ever wanted was having someone to be with her. As a child she was sexually abused by a family friend. The effects of the abuse became manifest soon as she had become promiscuous during her teenage years. Every time she has sex, however, she feels ashamed of herself. She feels dirty. Even when she was married her addiction did not stop. She still had sex with other men not her husband. There was even a point that she wanted to commit suicide just so everything would stop.
C. Case of Karen
Consider also the case of “Karen.” Just like Marnie Ferree she too wanted to be in a relationship and she wanted to find love. She thought that the only way she could find love is by going out and picking up random strangers to have sex with them. She would even go out with a group of guys who were ten (10) years young than her and end up having sex with several of them. She felt dirty but she could not do anything about her situation.
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According to Chester Schmidt, a California psychiatrist, sexual addiction is a myth. While it is an attractive concept there are still no studies or scientific basis that can be used to support the assumption (Neil D. Rosenberg, 1998, p.1). He explained that the term addiction refers to a chemical process that takes place in the brain by virtue of which the individual acquires a tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving to a certain substance like over the counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol. Because of too much dependence on the addictive substance stopping is vey difficult. When this substance is removed the addicted person will likely suffer physical and mental effects from the withdrawal. Sexual addiction just does not fit into this concept of addiction.
Psychiatrists, psychologists and social scientists question the use of the term sex addiction. One of their arguments is that no matter how self-destructive the desire for sex is it cannot lead to an addiction in the same manner as an over the counter drug or an illegal drug or alcohol. It does not matter how bad the behavior is or how shocking the behavior is. Sex which is instinctual and physiological drive can never be addictive. Otherwise, there would be nothing that will prevent others from coming up with names such as a facebook addiction or tweeter addiction or basketball addiction. Accepting and recognizing sexual addiction will only blur the line between a pathological condition and a behavior that is merely excessive.
Those who argue against the recognition of sex addiction as a medical condition believe that there must be tangible proof that a person is indeed addicted to sex. As of now there is yet no formal study conducted to determine the number of Americans who may have heightened desire for sex to the point that it has become an uncontrollable behavioral pattern. There is still no scientific study that will prove the same.
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Others say that the chemical reactions which take place in the body which as proponents of sexual addiction say may lead to addiction are in fact natural and spontaneous reactions of the body. Sex is a natural and instinctive reaction. There can never be an addiction over something that is natural to man.
Moreover, the biggest argument against sex addiction is that the claim that the brain emits chemicals in the brain which causes chemical reaction that leads man to become addicted to sex cannot be validated. If it is addiction to alcohol it is relatively easier to determine when the level of alcoholic intake becomes excessive. If it is addiction to drugs, it is also relatively easier to determine when the level of drug intake becomes excessive. If it is addiction to nicotine, it is also relatively easier to determine when the level of nicotine use becomes excessive. But the same standard does not apply sex addiction. When is sex beyond normal? What is the acceptable level of frequency of masturbation to be considered normal? When does the desire for sex become intense to the point that it is abnormal?
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Dictionary.com defines addiction as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming, such as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Addiction is a form of slavery whereby a person becomes a slave of a certain substance such as over the counter drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, nicotine, food or even sex. Sex addiction, on the other hand, is a condition of a man or woman who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity defines sexual addiction as "engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others."
Sexual addiction can be described as a disorder that is characterized by engaging in a lot of sexual thoughts and acts. For persons who have this condition sex dominates their mind to the point that it interferes with the person’s life, lifestyle and even frame of mind. It is a form of dependence to sex despite its adverse consequences.
There is no Sex Addiction
While the term sex addiction is very common nowadays with the coming out of David Duchovny a famous Hollywood celebrity who went to a rehab for his condition, currently, there is still a controversy over the issue of whether sex addiction should be recognized as a medical condition.
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The controversy started in the year 1985 when Patrick Carnes published a book called “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction.” While there are a number of researches suggesting that there are people who are addicted to sex in the same manner that some people are addicted to alcohol, nicotine or drugs, psychologists, psychiatrists and social scientists are apprehensive about the term sex addiction.
It is their argument that alcohol addiction, drug addiction and nicotine addiction which are scientifically recognized medical conditions are not similar with sex addiction. For them people should not be confused with the heightened desire for sex and sex addiction. According to Lennard Davis, sex addiction is not currently recognized as a medical condition. There is no such malady otherwise the disorder would have been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a complete repository of all addictions and disorders known to man. Currently, sex addiction is not included in this list.
What does appear in this list is the term paraphilias which is defined as the “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving (1) nonhuman objects, (2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or (3) children or other nonconsenting persons.” Thus, while the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders acknowledges sexual compulsions, it only recognizes sexual compulsion in the context of some sexual object, scene or person.
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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Deviant behavior is the kind of behavior that is against the norms or the expectations of the society. It is so-called a deviant behavior because the behavior tends to deviate away from the normal behavior. As a rule, the members of the society are expected to conform to the social norms and to behave in accordance with social expectations. When individuals start to deviate from what he is expected to do then deviant behavior starts.
While deviant behavior is an aberration, it is quite common in today’s society. In view of the complexity of the modern culture, behavior that was once considered as a taboo is now considered the norm or at least they appear to the individual to be the norm. There is some behavior that is perceived now to be more acceptable than in the past years. For instance, engaging in alcohol and drugs are considered as deviant behavior. However, because of too much exposure to individuals who are hooked into alcohol and drugs, an individual may develop the perception that using drugs and alcohol is the norm and that staying away from it is the deviant behavior.
Use of Alcohol
“It is better that my kid gets hooked in alcohol. At least, he is not into drugs!” This perhaps highlights the country’s problem on teenage alcoholism. The parents and the society in general think very lightly of the evils that alcohol can do to their children. They prefer their children to get addicted to alcohol instead of drugs. They have failed to realize that alcohol also has adverse effects on their children physically, emotionally and intellectually. In fact, it is at least as dangerous if not more dangerous than drugs. Alcoholism affects not only the brain but also even our emotions and feelings to the point that we cannot control them anymore. Alcoholism consumes a person until he reaches the point that he can no longer think straight and make right decisions. It also affects the body causing damage to the liver, stomach and other internal organs. It affects our relationship with people and how we communicate with our family, friends, co-workers. However, because parents and the society downplay the effects of alcohol on a person, many people, including teenagers, continue drinking in excessive amounts as if there is nothing wrong with it.
The numbers of teenagers who drink and who drink heavily are on the rise. According to an article published by the British Medical Association (BMA), quoted in “The Health Effects of Teen Alcohol Use”, “…there was a general rise in the proportion of eleven to fifteen year-olds who drink alcohol regularly, but also there is an increase in the amount they are drinking on each occasion” (par.1).
In a study conducted by Drug Policy Research Center on a total of 4,390 high-school seniors and dropouts, the following were the results “a) About one of every six seniors and dropouts averaged at least one alcoholic drink every other day; b) More than a quarter of those surveyed experienced a drinking-related problem (e.g., missing school, feeling really sick) on at least three occasions during the previous year--or a more serious problem (e.g., a fight, an arrest) at least once; and c) The same proportion engaged in two or more high-risk drinking activities (e.g., combining alcohol with other drugs, getting drunk) on multiple occasions during the previous year” (Teenage Alcohol Misuse, 1998 par.3).
In addition, according to a 2004 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about seventy-five percent of high school students have tried alcohol. Twenty-eight percent of these have had a recent episode of heavy drinking, which are more than five drinks within a couple of hours.
It is very alarming that most teenagers nowadays are into alcohol. What is more alarming is that most of these teenagers are completely unaware of the harmful effects of taking alcohol in their body. It must be stressed that excessive alcohol drinking can lead to serious health problems such as depression, liver problems, and heart failure and permanent damage to the person’s brain and nervous system. According to Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association (2002), “there is scientific evidence that may prove that even modest alcohol consumption in late childhood and adolescence can result in permanent brain damage” (Psychological Effects of Alcohol on Teenagers).
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Aside from health issues, excessive consumption of alcohol also increases the possibility of violent behavior and victimization. Alcoholic teenagers are more likely to commit crime or be a victim of a serious crime. As a teenager gets intoxicated, he becomes more prone to engaging in violent behavior such as gang wars or fights. Since an intoxicated individual loses his inhibition and self-control, he may end up doing something that he may regret afterwards. She may also be a victim of sexual assault, harassment or rape.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol increases the likelihood that the teenager may meet accident while on the road. In a number of accidents which happen along the road, one will be surprised according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the youths are most often involved in alcohol related driving accidents (“Underage Drinking”, p.1). Statistics shows that although young drivers make up only fourteen percent of the US Population, youths aged sixteen to twenty four have been involved in twenty eight percent of the alcohol-related driving accidents (“Underage Drinking”, p.1).
A drunken teenager is also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. She is also very vulnerable to coercive sexual activity such as gang rapes or sexual assault. When this happens, it is very likely that he or she may acquire sexually transmitted diseases.
It is also worth noting that teenagers who are addicted to alcohol are more likely to be depressed and thus commit suicide. Some teenagers who are depressed and suffer from anxiety think that alcohol will help them find a solution to their problem. After taking it for so many times, they will only find out that their mental and emotional problems will not go away merely by drinking alcohol. They eventually feel that committing suicide will be the final solution to this problem. Although the cause and effect relation between suicidal tendencies and alcoholism has not yet been proven, studies have found that alcoholism and suicidal behavior are associated with each other.
In the past, use of drugs is considered a taboo. Until now, use of drugs is still outlawed but for some individuals the use of drugs is part of their lifestyle. Drug abuse is widely regarded as one of the most serious health problems in our country today. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2002) “an estimated 13.6 million Americans were current users of illicit drugs in 1998, meaning they used an illicit drug at least once during the thirty days prior to the interview (Robert A. Trevino, p.1). This represents 6.2 percent of the population twelve years old and older. An estimated 1.8 million (0.8 percent) Americans aged twelve and older were current users of cocaine in 1998 and an estimated 4.1 million people met diagnostic criteria for dependence on illicit drugs in 1998, including 1.1 million youths aged twelve to seventeen” (Roberto A. Trevino, p.1).
The drug problem is not confined merely to the students but even to professional athletes. Professional athletes use drugs to enhance their performance during competitions, tournament and major sporting events. The use of prohibited drugs, or steroids, to enhance performance continues to happen until today. In fact, the demand for steroids even increased nowadays in view of the commercialism in the world of sports. It can no longer be denied that sports have evolved in today’s generation. Sports are no longer expressions of passion for some athletes but they have become big businesses not only for athletes who dream of earning fat paychecks but even for advertisers and multinational companies seeking to advertise their products. Because of the amount of money involved high-profile athletes have started using steroids for the purpose of ensuring their success in competition. Recently, a fighter was discovered to have used performance-enhancing drugs before his fight with Anderson Silva.
However, nowadays high profile athletes are not the only ones drawn to the use of steroids. Recently, there has been a reported increase in the use of steroids even among the youth. According to a 1988 study, it found that 6.6percent of twelfths grade students had used or were using anabolic steroids. This represents an estimated number of 250,000 to 500,000 adolescent youths who are into the use of anabolic steroids. This is confirmed by other studies saying that self-reported use of anabolic steroids in adolescents range from five percent to eleven percent of males and up to 2.5percent of females (Adolescents and Anabolic Steroids: A Subject Review, 905).
Use of alcohol and drugs are still considered deviant behavior in today’s standards. However, many individuals are drawn to them for various reasons. In order to help the victims of alcohol and drugs to stay away from its use it is essential that they be informed of its harmful effects on their body and on their future.
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The 21st Century is a period marked by technological progress, improvement in communication and infrastructure and advancement in the Internet and Information Technology. While these developments are desired by everyone, these changes also triggered certain problems for the common man. Some are lucky enough to notice this problem while some go on living their lives not knowing and realizing that they are trapped and enslaved by these technological changes. On the other hand, it is also possible that those who do not realize their wretched condition are more fortunate compared to those who are not conscious of their condition. The problems of alienation and estrangement in today’s society have been revealed by a number of existentialist philosophers. They attempted to awaken man from toil and drudgery of living in the modern society.
Alienation and estrangement can be defined as the social and economic condition resulting from capitalism. On the other hand, there are those who define alienation as psychological or even spiritual malaise which is pervasive in the society. Because the concepts of alienation and estrangements are inextricably linked in these two senses, this essay will refer to the concepts of alienation and estrangement as a social and economic condition and as a psychological and spiritual malaise.
Alienation and Estrangement are the sum total of the description of man’s condition in the modern society. It refers to man’s limited and distorted vision of himself and of his needs and desires which are defined in accordance with what is dictated by others. Alienation and estrangement may also mean the loss of sense of self by man as a result of increasing reliance on everyday technology. Alienation and estrangement could also be the effect of man’s search for economic improvement. Man, according to the existentialist philosophers, has lost relationship to himself as a result of the changes that have happened in his external environment. As man continuously searches for economic progress he continuously loses himself in the midst of these struggles. The reality however is that not everyone who works hard and searches for economic progress reaches his goal. A handful of people will achieve what they are searching for but a large majority of the population will fail. They will realize that slowly they are losing control of the product of their labor and that they are continuously being subjected to the will of others. The goal therefore of man is to be able to transcend this alienated condition.
The problems of alienation and estrangement are ably described in the story “The Metamorphosis” which is an exposition on the absurdity of human life as written by Franz Kafka. The absurdity is evident in the theme on the economic effects on relationships with people. The economic reality is that people need to work. Oftentimes, a person does not only work for himself but for other persons as well. The worse part is when a person ceases to work for himself but only for other people, like his family. The question is does the people whom a person supports and provides for their needs see him as human being who also have his own needs. Is his contribution the family being recognized as an act of kindness or does the other members of the family see this as an act of duty to them?
The story speaks of a person who one day wakes up and realizes that he has transformed into a bug. The funny thing is that while reading the story, the reader will immediately conclude that the story does not dwell on how Gregor Samsa physically transformed to a giant bug. In fact, it is surprising that the main character was hardly interested about how he physically transformed instantaneously into bug and instead he immediately accepted his situation. If the physically transformation is not issue in this story, then the only conclusion is that it is something other than the physical transformation but a mental one. Gregor Samsa did not actually turn into a bug but rather he was only awakened to the reality that he had been a bug for a long time. He reached a state of awakening or realization. Just like other insects which are purposely designed by nature to work for the survival of the entire colony, Gregor Samsa has been living a life of an insect as he himself had been working for the survival of his family. In the process he lost sight of his relationship with them. He has no friends. He hates his boss, his work and his colleagues. He has no life. He does not even have a pleasant relationship with his family. He could not even see the external world as he attempts to look at it through the window. He realizes that he had alienated himself from his society and from himself. The real transformation actually happened is in his mind as he was awakened to the reality that he has been a slave of his family.
The tragic situation of Gregor Samsa is similar to the situation of Sisyphus. Both have been toiling day in and day out hoping that they will be able to accomplish their goals. Both however are trapped in an endless cycle. The greatest tragedy is that characters are conscious and aware of their condition and that they could not do anything about it.
Alienation in the 21st Century
The employees in the 21st Century share the same fate as Sisyphus in “The Myth of Sisyphus” and Gregor Samsa in the story “The Metaphor.” The employees in the modern society have to toil day in day out just so they could reach their goal of someday attaining economic prosperity. Instead of spending their money, eating good food or wearing fancy clothes or living a comfortable life, they save their money hoping that someday they will be able to save more.
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They have failed to realized that time has changed. In the past, the corporate world was a symbol of progress. Anybody who worked hard has the same chance as anybody of becoming rich or at least living a comfortable life. In the past, rest periods, week ends were respected by employers as these are periods where the employees get to spend their time with their family. In the past, privacy rights in the workplace were respected.
The work environment of today has dramatically changed compared to the last decade. In today’s society only the rich becomes richer while the poor becomes poorer. The competitive nature of the work environment coupled with the demands of the employers has caused a dramatic change in the way work is done within the workplace. The advent of technologies such as laptop computers, increasing access to the Internet and other communication devices such as Blackberries and Cellular phones also contributed to the enslavement of the employees. Now, every employee is within the reach of his employer no matter where he is and no matter what the time of the day or night is. The line between work hours and rest period has become blurred. Every employee can be required to work even during week ends or holidays or even when he is on vacation. As technology improves, more employers will take advantage of these developments resulting in more time for work but less time for rest and recreation for the employees and less time for himself and his family. As a result, employees reached a state of social and psychological state of separation not only from himself but also from other people.
With the advent of globalization and the explosion of Information Technology, the privacy of every employee in the workplace is slowly being eroded. Employees are always under the threat of being subjected to electronic eavesdropping, video and sound recording, telephone conversation recording posed by computer technology.
On one hand, employers want to make sure that their employees are performing efficiently and that their skills and talents are maximized. With this goal in mind, the need to monitor the activities of the employees in the workplace becomes imperative on their part. Thus employers may monitor and record the conversations of their employees or make a record of the phone numbers dialed by them. The problem however is that employees desire to have some space and they do not want every activity they do in the workplace to be monitored and recorded by their employer.
As a rule, employers may monitor and listen to telephone conversations of their employees with the customers. This is imperative considering the business interest that they need to protect and the quality of service that they need to maintain. However, there are state laws which provide that when the parties to a call are in the same state, employers are required to inform the parties that the conversation is being recorded and monitored by the company. However when the telephone conversation is between parties who are outside the state, laws allow the monitoring and recording of the conversation even without notice by the employer.
The question that must answered is, is it ethical for an employer to eavesdrop on the conversation of its employees? Do employees have to give up their privacy and allow their personal communications to be recorded against his will? Does this not affect the moral and productivity of the employees?
Unlike the right to privacy, the right against unreasonable search and seizure is more explicitly provided for in the US Constitution under the Fourth Amendment. There however is no hard-and-fast rule in weighing the reasonableness of the employer’s right to search an employee’s computer files. In determining the right of the employer to make a search in the computer files of the employer, due consideration must be made to the particular circumstances of the case. In the case of Biby v. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, et al., the Supreme Court ruled that a university has the right to look into the computer files of its employees if there is a university policy allowing it to look into the computer files of its employees, the employees are aware of it and have manifested their agreement to it and prior notice have been given to the employee concerned that the employer will look into his computer files. The point is if any of these requirements is absent, the act of the employer in searching computer files of its employees poses serious constitutional challenge and may expose the employer to cases of tort and a liability for damages.
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