Kids and Credit Cards - Who Is to Blame?

Sometimes I get comments on posts that make me stop and do some serious thinking.  If I think long and hard enough, I end up writing a whole ‘nother post on the subject.  Once again, I find myself in this situation, with a statement from first-time commenter klippies on my post about credit card offers for minors:

I read a lot of pf blogs and are always amazed that people blame the banks and the credit card companies for everything. (…) Do not always blame someone else for your bad choices. Nobody is forcing a student or anyone else to apply for credit cards or to use them without being able to pay the balance. Use common sense when dealing with money.

This has made me stop and think: Who is to blame when the combination of college kids and credit cards turns out badly?  Or the combination of military kids and loans turns out ugly and in the first sergeant’s office?  Those two groups are highly targeted by credit card and loan companies to the point it is nauseating. 

  • Is it the kids’ (young adults, barely over 18 years old) fault for being naive and uneducated in the ways of handling money and credit
  • Is it the credit card companies’ and loan places’ fault for taking full advantage of this naivete? 
  • Is it the kids’ parents’ fault for not teaching what they might or might NOT know about handling money?
  • Is it the schools’ fault for not including sound financial principles in the curriculum?
  • Is it the government’s fault for not regulating this?
  • Is the blame somewhere in the middle of all these?  With everyone having a share in the fault?
  • Is it no one’s fault because (excrement) happens?

This is a really touchy subject, because any time fingers are pointed, someone gets defensive as a knee-jerk reaction.  I know I got a bit defensive when I first read klippies’ final sentence:

Maybe common sense kicked in late for you, but at least you fixed your behaviour (the banks did not change theirs).

Yes, common sense waited until I was almost 34 years old to slap me upside the head.  I knew I didn’t like credit cards, and knew I shouldn’t use them … but I also didn’t know how and what to do to rid myself of them.  I didn’t know any other way other than what I saw on the television and in the ads and what my parents and friends did.

I don’t think I have a straight answer to this.  Maybe I need to think on the subject a bit more.  I am certainly interested in hearing YOUR opinion on this subject!  Who is to blame when kids and credit cards (or loans) turns out to be a very bad situation?