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Violence: Children Who Own The Streets

There are many problems facing today’s society. One of the problems is

the violent condition that surrounds the lives of children in America. We are

awarded of the violence among our juveniles because we read, hear and see it.

The newspapers, magazines, news media, and our neighborhoods testify the living

proof of the chaos. Everyone tries to find explanations of the causes and

consequences of street violence and other aspects of the turbulent lives of

young people. Yet, the problem facing our juveniles will not be solved over

night. But that’s not a reason enough to ignore the problem. It will only

make matters worse and keep on doubling through the years. It is our duty as

citizens, friends and family to start trying to make that difference. It is

frustrating to know that violence among the children of America is increasing in

many aspects. The crimes are starting to vary. It’s not like in the past,

where kids only stole candies or disobeyed curfew laws. Now children steal,

murder, rape and use drugs. This is not the America that we knew, this is a

battle. What can we do to influence these kids to stay off trouble? First of

all, we have to realize this is a very serious problems. And it has to be

stopped. The second step is to figure out what causes children to be violent

and become juvenile delinquents. This negative attitude causes them to lead a

life of delinquency and a life isolated from society’s idealistic world. When

we ask these question, many others come in mind. Does these problems begin in

the family? Are parents good role models or are they condoning the violence? How

can we prevent parents from destroying the minds and future of these children?

If we try to deny a teen who seeks help, they will only turn to the streets,

drugs, and gangs. When they turn rebellious they will commit crimes, minor or

major. Juvenile violence is a problem, it leads to crime and segregation. If

it’s not lessen, it will only keep doubling. And then the future of America will


Some of the main concerns of violence revolves around the family

atmosphere. Some families are not creating a secured environment for their

children. Instead, these children get exposed to illegal behavior and violent

actions in the homes. Family morals and values play an important role in the

discipline and education of an adolescent. If you teach a kid to be good, he

will be good. If you show him bad, he will see bad. What ever they plant

that’s what they will produce. In depicting family disturbance, we encountered

with interviews done by the Children’s Express teen journalists. One of the

interviews is on Connie a twelve year old from Indianapolis expressing herself

on violence. ” I’m just a person that would try to stay out of trouble and do

what is right, but I sure wish I could change all the violence and stuff that I

be around and all the trouble that my family go through. Some of my uncles do a

lot of drugs and the police is always after them.” ( Kozol. 4). Diamond a

fourteen year old from San Francisco also tells. ” I’m fourteen years old and I

usually come down the street to hang out, just talk to friends. My home’s not

really functional and stuff, so I try to get away from it as much as possible.

My mom, she’s like manic-depressive and she hasn’t worked in three years, and my

sister is really abusive. She’s older, so she thinks she’s the boss of

everything and everybody, so I don’t really like to be at home.” (Kozoc. 9). I

think in order to know what’s going with juveniles, it’s very important to

listen to what they say. That’s why you will hear their voices. On his fifth

birthday, Mark’s father gave him a gun. And this is what Mark ( 16 yrs. old)

from Massachusetts says, “That was his thing we all had to learn how to

shoot when we turned five years old . He made me go to Karate and wrestling.

My father was very big on fighting. There was no time for anything except for

my father. He always found something for us to do. You could go outside, rake

the yard, be done with it, and then you’d have to go sweep the driveway, then go

rake the yard again, You had no free time for yourself, no privacy at all.

Everyday he used to hit me, and one year he molested my sister. I found that

out after I killed him I knew, even as I pulled the trigger I was going to

prison. I just didn’t want my family to suffer anymore, or myself.” (Kozoc 13).

These are only Some of the many stories that describe the anguish and

desperation of these juveniles. And some of these stories are valid for the

cause of so much violence among them. When we talk according to the statistics

family breakdown is 27% of factors important in causing crime, poor housing is

15%, poor education is 7%. and drugs is 22%. These are factors that judges

determines as most important

There are more causes of violence than family. And that’s why it’s very

important in investigating other probable causes. One of them is watching too

much violence on television by children and adults is certainly suspected as a

major contributor. In a study by American psychological Association, they

estimated that the average American child, by the seventh grade, he has watched

8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on TV. (Baron, 154). In American

cartoons, a violent act occurs on average 90 seconds. That is 10 percent more

than 10 years ago. In an article in the New York magazine, Ken Auletta quoted

the association’s report which noted the consequences of watching so many acts

of violence. ” Accumulated research demonstrates a correlation between viewing

violence and aggressive behavior—that is, heavy viewers behave more

aggressively that light viewers. Children and adults who watch a large number

of aggressive programs also tend to hold attitudes and values that favor the use

of aggression to solve conflicts.” ( Baron. 155). In a nationwide poll by the

Times Mirror Company in February 1993, it was found that Americans are

increasingly disturbed by the violence on TV entertainment shows, and 80 percent

of them believe that it’s harmful to the nation. The survey showed the link

between age and concern about television violence. The majority of Americans –

-72 percent of those surveyed said that TV has too much violence, about 25

percent characterized it as a ” reasonable amount” and the remainder said

there is ” very little” violence on TV or had no opinion. The opinion

percentages were almost the same as found by a national poll taken in 1971.

What was different in the 1993 poll was that more Americans are troubled by

entertainment violence now, and more believe it has a poisonous effect on

society. Americans who said they were ” personally” bothered” by violence in TV

shows jumped to 59 percent in 1983, with those saying they were bothered a great

deal rising to 24 percent from 16 percent. ( Baron 155). Another contributor to

violence and crime would be hand guns. With easy access to guns and propensity

of American toward violence, the result is that a lot of people are killed every

year by guns—about 30,000 in 1991. How many Americans would be killed every

year if guns were not available to the public? If criminals and hostile people

only had hands and fists and knives to attack people, surely, only a small

percentage of the current 24,000 gun homicides would actually occur. The five

children killed in Stockton, California, school yard by Patrik Purdy, or the

massacre of 22 people killed at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, would not

have happened if guns were not available. It is estimated that about one half

of the households in the United States have at least one gun and that typical

gun owner is fairly educated member of the middle class. And this is what causes

their juveniles to have easy access to guns. They see the guns and their

curiosity makes them grab a hold of them and get hostile. That’s why in most

child homocides firearms the number is 1,500, hands and feet 400, k 0.nives 180,

blunt object 50, and other forms are 250. Deaths by firearms per 100,000 in the

15-19 age group in 1992 was as followed, African Americans males 105,000,

African American females 10,000, white males 10,000, and white females were

1,000. This goes to show us that things are not getting any good compared to

many years ago. More juveniles are killing and getting killed,

Some of the violence happens in the schools and this is one story. A

dozen teenagers watched as a fifteen year old student shot and killed a

seventeen year old classmate at Reseda High School in February of 1993. (

California ). Robert Heard, a Reseda High football player, confronted Michael

Shean Ensley in a corridor during midmorning snack break. He fired once,

hitting Ensley in the chest. Ensley staggered outside and collapsed in a grassy

quadrangle area near the administration office. Several who witnessed the

incident initially thought it was play acting, but rushed the injured youth to

the nurse’s office when they realized he was hurt. He was pronounced dead at

Northridege Hospital Medical Center a shot time later. Robert was arrested

shortly after. ( Baron 14). This was only one of the many stories that we hear

about juvenile crimes. Not only do they kill but they join gangs to gain that

power. Youth gangs are ways out for teens who are in crisis or need special

attention. Youth gangs of adolescent, usually male, from urban working class or

under privileged districts, take part in aggressive and delinquent activities

both within the gang and outside of it, fighting other gangs, committing assault

and theft and damage to property,. Rarely are such gangs organized crime units,

more often they are delinquent as a means for obtaining kicks. Increasingly

street gangs are involved in drug trafficking, intimidation and violence. Some

gangs have initiation rituals, including shooting people,. Youth gangs have

developed in many countries, increasing ( like the general level of juvenile

delinquency) in countries with a higher economic levels or with rapid social and

economic change. In 1988, 622 wilding robberies were referred to New York’s

City’s family court. It is the second most common crime among youths in New

York city, after crack dealing. In Los Angeles in 1990 there were some 750

gangs; in 1994 the estimate was 885( 570 Latino and 315 Black). One of the

biggest claim to have 10,000 members. By the year 2000 it is estimated that

there will be 250,000 gang members in LA. County. Gang related robberies in

1989 were put at 1,800; murder at 570, and 8000 or more in 1992. Gangs offer an

identity and opportunity for self assertion to youths under conditions where

life holds out little else. With murders in the schools, families and gangs,

there comes another crime that is rising as well. Sexual Offenses by juveniles

is one that we can’t forget. In U.S.A from 1976 to 1986 the rate arrest for

13 and 14 year old accused of rape doubled to 40 arrests per 100,000 children.

For sex offenses like exhibitionism, grabbing and fondling in the same age group

arrests increased by 80%..

To sum it all up juvenile crime, as all crime has been increasing.

Brutal crime among young offenders also is increasingly evidenced in reports,

particularly on urban areas. Some offenders are psychotic and their offenses

may range from suicide to mass murder. Others are anti-social given to minor

acts of defiance. Ease of access to weapons ; drug addiction; unemployment; and

economic motives, are the more obvious circumstances leading to crime; but

modern societal stress, breakdown of family life, deviant role models, threats

of nuclear war and the confusion in values which produce unstable feelings and

distorted ideas, probably all contribute to aggravate violence among youth.

Despite the enormous amount of study devoted to it, a great many questions about

juvenile delinquency still remained unanswered. The term covers a wide range of

legally forbidden acts committed by young people who may be anything from 10 to

25 years of age. The highly varied misbehavior of these young people, who differ

greatly in personal background, development, experience, and situation, is no

homogeneous phenomenon. One view is that delinquent behavior develops when a

youngster’s rewards in terms of money and goods, excitement, fellowship or

revenge outstrip the costs of getting caught. Under age drinking and

shoplifting were the most common offenses, followed by truancy, taking drugs,

vandalism, bullying, and joyriding. Over half cited to impress others and

boredom as the reason for offending, followed by lack of money, peer pressure,

lack of parental strictness and ability to get away with it. The extent of

youthful crime is hard to judge. Since the second World War, a substantial

increase in juvenile convictions has been recorded in many countries. As

offenders, boys outnumber girls in a ratio of about 10:1. Juvenile delinquency

rates may rise with higher general technological economic level and in

situations of varied social change. Hence Western Europe, USA and Japan have

high levels of juvenile delinquency. Youth gangs are noted also in Taiwan,

South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, USSR and Yugoslavia. Juvenile

delinquency has shown an increase in such rapidly developing nations as Ghana

and Kenya. Crimes against property are by far the most frequent type of offense.

These include stealing from shops, houses, and cars; and the unauthorized

taking of the person ( assaults, fighting, robbery with violence ), together

with sex offenses and, in industrially developed countries, traffic offenses,

come next and are more common among those aged from 17 to 21. Narcotic addiction

and other types of drug dependence, though not always criminal offenses, are a

relatively new and disturbing form of deviance and seem to be increasing rapidly.

The 1991 UK National Prisons Survey found 83 percent of lock up young offenders

had been in council care, against 2 percent of the population as a whole. In

1992 in Britain, 110,4000 children aged 10-16 were caught breaking the law; 75

percent were boys. By far the most common crime was theft or handling of goods.

Throughout the 1980’s juvenile crime fell in UK: 100,000 cautioned or convicted

in 1992, 37 percent fewer than a decade earlier. The young population had also

fallen, but only by 2o percent. In 1992, there were 3,764 male juveniles per

100,000 convicted or cautioned; in 1982 the figure was 5,028. The fall was the

biggest among boys aged 10-13: from 2,929 to 1,927.

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