This paper will review the items commonly mentioned as risk factors in Orthodox children becoming rebellious ("going off the derech"). I will demonstrate that there is a strong tendency - albeit with the best of intentions - to downplay the role of parents in this problem. The reasons for this avoidance and how it can impede efforts to alleviate the problem will be explored.
Here is the comment I left at Rabbi Student's blog:
I find the constant conflation of teens "at-risk" of going off the derech with teens "at-risk" of getting into drugs and destructive lifestyles infuriating. There seems to be no recognition that it's possible -- indeed common -- for children to decide Orthodox Judaism is simply not right for them, for various reasons. A quick look around the Jblogosphere reveals a great number of people who left or are leaving due to theological differences with Orthodox Judaism.
I had a pretty good childhood. I loved my parents and continue to do so today. The reasons I am not Orthodox are that I honestly believe that Orthodox Judaism is factually incorrect. I believe God does not exist and that, even if he did, he certainly did not dictate the Torah to Moses at Sinai.
Maybe instead of seeing every child who goes "off the derech" as a tragedy, Jewish leaders should focus on those children who are legitimately in danger of unhealthy behaviors.
The following excerpt better represents what I'm responding to:
More recently, a prominent mechanech in Bnei Brak wrote a sefer on chinuch12 where he does spell out the painful truth clearly [free translation]:
The mecahnchim who deal with at-risk youngsters report that all of the youngsters who dropped out did so only because they received insufficient love and respect at home. Not even one of these youngsters claims that that he dropped out because of complaints c"v against Hashem or against the Torah. A child who receives sufficient love and acceptance at home will never go off the derech.
So I'll say it clearly, for the record. I dropped out because of complaints (c"v!) against Hashem (or at least against his existence) AND against the Torah.