Atlanta Ga. Dec. 3, 2007 The secret, if it ever was a secret is now out and being broadcast loud and clear nationwide. Teens who should be playing sports, planning what they’re going do when they graduate school or thinking about asking the girl next door to the school dance now spend their time planning robberies, drug deals and even murder. Teenage crime has always been a problem to some degree but it mostly entailed vandalism, petty theft and shoplifting or possible introduction to alcohol by the age of 16. But those crimes and the occasional minor run in with the law have given way to a much more violent and dangerous group of kids.
Just this week- end in a city north of Atlanta three juveniles under the age of 18 broke into the house of 75 year old Durward Jordan and beat him severally leaving him with head trauma and blood on the brain, two black eyes and severe bruising. Police believe that they knew the victims granddaughter and they came to take his pension money and left with a shotgun, cash and a few small electronics.
Police in Alabama say that over the week-end a 19 year old killed his own grandmother after a minor dispute. Two other teenagers are charged with murder, robbery, rape and kidnapping in an abduction of a 15 year old girl who was walking to the store. Police say that the two had been planning the attack for at least a month.
Three children all under the age of ten were arrested last week in metro-Atlanta for kidnapping and raping a 13 year old girl.
All of these were violent and savage attacks that would normally be associated with an adult or repeat offender not a teenager.
Police also point to the number of armed robberies being committed by youths as young as 12 and to the increase of kids who carry guns everywhere they go thinking that it’s a must have accessory. Guns in schools also seem to be on the rise. School resource officer Paul Mango said that in his 29 years in law enforcement he has never seen so many children and teenagers who routinely carry guns. As he patrols the halls of his middle school in middle Tennessee he is cautious not to let his guard down when dealing with a student who has been disruptive or involved in fighting or other problem behavior. I have to keep telling myself that kid might be armed and on my approach I look for the signs of someone who might be carrying a gun just like I would if I were approaching an adult who might have been loitering or involved in some type of criminal activity.
Various professionals including criminologists, physiatrists, counselors and those who study teenage behavior see the trend also. Some theories are that it’s all part of the evolution of single parent homes, peer pressures, TV and movie glamorization of gang life, guns and violence and it sounds like the same song that has been sung for the past eight years. Law enforcement officers agree that some or all of those things do play a part in the increase but also think that it has to do with respect and accountability or the lack of it.
Children who might already live in a challenged environment have no one at home to hold them to the rules of the house and no one who is teaching them to respect themselves and others. When they enter the school system they’re already talking back and ignoring the teacher and being disrespectful. Police also say that they deal with the lack of respect for the law everyday and it often comes from children as young as 7 or 8.
Whatever or whoever is to blame police say that a solution must be found and found quickly. We need to turn these young people around or we’ll be facing an even more violent society in just five years Dr. Shirley Cutler, a juvenile counselor and author of several books on the subject. Kids think it’s all a game and that it’s all just a fun way to spend a Friday night or a Tuesday afternoon.
Police are fearful that many of the teens of today are just steps away from becoming career criminals and only those with the right guidance of parents, schools and churches will survive this fast growing problem.
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