Dr. Joseph Facal: “It is a mistake to overprotect our youth” [“C’est une erreur de surprotéger nos jeunes”]

Before going to sleep, Bambi would like to share a quick translation of an article published today in the Journal de Montréal and signed by Dr. Joseph Facal:


For those who do not know this author, he is a highly respected academic (trained in politics and sociology), a journalist, and (a former?) politician in the Belle Province. As you can guess, he has mentored several trainees over his career [École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) de Montréal and Concordia University], in addition to being a devoted father.

Bambi will not spend much time commenting his article. No, not because it is getting late. It is rather because Facal’s column speaks for itself. Whether we agree or disagree with his insights on education in the broadest sense, it is food for thought.

Without further ado, below you can find Dr. Facal’s translated words on how today’s society may be overprotecting its youth to the ironic point of contributing to hinder their growth, as human beings or citizens.


“The day before yesterday I wrote that I didn’t like our exhibitionist, whining and hypocritical era.

Meghan Markle’s interview with Prince Harry embodied them to the point of caricature.

I will clarify my thoughts now.

My parents instilled in me, less by their words than by their example, a few fundamental beliefs.


The trials we face and overcome build character and strengthen us.

Emotions are important, legitimate, but should not take up all the space and should be tempered by reason.

Human beings are complex. We must therefore be sensitive to nuances and not see everything as an apocalyptic confrontation between an absolute Good and an absolute Evil.

What has survived the centuries has proven its strength and, without necessarily approving it, must be treated with respect and with a concern for understanding its raison d’être.

Great artists, great entrepreneurs, great scientists, great political leaders have gone through hardships, fought battles that have forced them to draw on the best of themselves.

They often questioned themselves without giving up their nature or their ambition.

They knew where they came from. When they rejected the past, they knew exactly what they were rejecting and for what reasons.

Now, what do we see today?

Is an exam difficult? We make it easier.

Is a book disturbing? We take it off.

An inconvenient debate? The professor apologizes.

A youth expresses his feelings, his fragility?

You have to bend, adjust your environment, not hijack it, especially not say: hey, that’s fine, stand up and walk off.

If this youngster divides the world into good guys and bad guys, if he sees oppression everywhere, we shouldn’t reframe him, but rather question our own “unconscious biases.”

Perhaps it is he, from the height of his vast life experience, who sees more clearly than we do.

All of this is undoubtedly a consequence of a society in which many children are raised in cozy comfort.

Children who grow up in Africa or in our poor neighbourhoods have little time to probe their souls or censor works.

Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t blame youth.

It is their seniors who decide in the media industry, in education, in social services.

It is also not easy to be 20 years old today: uncertain future, academic competition, toxic social networks, etc.

But it is precisely because their future will be difficult that the way we go about it is bad.


A relative told me that instead of preparing youth for the road, we prepare the road for them.

Instead of strengthening them, arming them for life, we try to remove the uncertainties, we overprotect them.

A muscle strengthens when it is called upon. If it isn’t, it atrophies.

That goes for character, right?

Sorry, but we’re headed in the wrong direction”.

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