Who wasn't disgusted this past week by the senseless beating of a Florida teenage girl by six other teenage girls? Or disgusted by a polygamist compound's mistreatment of young girls in western Texas? And dismayed by the Baltimore teacher who was knocked to the ground and beaten by a student while a fellow classmate videotaped the episode on her cell phone and others cheered?
Just as I was turning away (again) in disgust from America's awry juvenile daily news, I found myself a constituent of it, when two New Jersey teens were arrested after a teacher found a hit list that contained my name. When I first read the report, my instinct was to say nothing. I didn't want to risk exacerbating the situation. As the story spread nationally then internationally, however, I quickly realized silence was not the best course of action. This type of behavior is exactly the warning sign we have trivialized or ignored for far too long, emanating from a growing at-risk population of young people in this country.
The Columbine High School shooting still stands as a prime example of at-risk youth making a statement in a devastating way. More recent evidence poured out from the Savannah Morning News, which reported, "A 2007 analysis by the (Georgia) state Department of Public Safety showed a 171 percent increase in the arrests of juveniles for violent crimes since 1976, along with a 104 percent increase for robberies and 224 percent for aggravated assault." And we all know too well about school shootings. I've counted at least 14 different murderous gun sprees at colleges or universities just since 2000, resulting in at least 60 fatalities and dozens more being wounded.
I remember when I was in high school in the 1950s. There were gangs and racial injustice even then, however I never could have imagined the moral and civil anarchy among our youth today. So many have weapons and vehemently assault peers and adults. Why is this happening? It's either because the youths know they can get away with it or they just don't care! We have turned into a society of permissiveness and apathy.
Young people know teachers have no real authority over them and no support from their administrations. If a teacher tries to instill discipline in the classroom, it is disregarded by the students because they know the teacher cannot enforce it. A great example is the teacher in Baltimore who tried to get the student to sit down in class. And what happened when she did? She was beaten up! Until students know they cannot get away with this kind of behavior, classrooms will continue to grow more out of control.
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