When problems are sitting there -- right in front of us -- we need to face them even if they are difficult ones or even touchy ones. This is particularly true when the problems are crimes and innocent people (especially children and older citizens) are the ones being hurt, even murdered. While I just learned about this fad crime last week, a reporter told us last night ON THE RECORD at 7pm that this has been going on for years and you can read all about it on the internet.
There is a process by which you confront this wave of crimes -- first, you take protective measures to try and prevent the crimes in those areas that you suspect might be more vulnerable to the crime. Of course identifying where a crime might happen is not easy. When the crimes are random, as these are, it is like finding a needle in the haystack. How do you guess? But we attempt to do so. Lots of times people who are on the perimeter of the crime know about it and talking to them gets us information which can be helpful. Since the crimes here are often done by groups with a disturbing laughing chorus, talk to the chorus. They might be helpful to identifying what might happen.
Second, when the crimes occur, you aggressively pursue and prosecute and, if convicted, take the violent person off the streets. Not only do you protect the streets but you begin to send a message out to others who might be tempted to commit the same crime. The message needs to be LOUD and CLEAR. The media needs to participate in getting this message out LOUD and CLEAR.
Third, we try and figure out how to get to the root of the problem so that it does not keep happening and we take the big step of making sure younger people growing up don't succumb to this vicious fad. This might be the most difficult part of all. It takes all of us -- a national dialogue -- and it takes those in leadership roles to actually take the lead. We need to be practical and realistic -- some leaders are in a much better position to be those role models getting the message out. The President would be very helpful in getting the message out. The message needs to be LOUD and CLEAR.
The media needs to help, too. I started blogging about this crime a week ago and each night since ON THE RECORD at 7pm has been reporting it. We need everybody. We need a huge spotlight on this crisis, not sweep it under the carpet. It is difficult because of the appearance of the race issue -- but that is no reason to look the other way and not protect others who may be the next victim of a wave of crime that we know is happening.
Right now the outrage is directed at the actual perpetrators and those laughing at the vicious crimes. Imagine hurting innocent random people like they do! Words are inadequate to describe the cruelty. You have seen the videos.
But there are some very young people (age 12? 13?) who are watching this happen in their communities or hearing about this 'game' or even reading about it on the internet. This crime is wickedly dangerous because it is cool to some, the young and impressionable. A crime perceived as cool has a contagious impact and poisons younger people to likewise commit it. Very young teens often want to be part of the popular group and prone to imitating what they might see older -- perceived popular -- teens do.
Think about it -- if a 13 year old does imitate an older teen committing this vicious crime, someone falls and hits his or her head, that teen will be prosecuted for attempted murder. Of course if the victim dies, the charge will be murder. With either attempted murder or murder, the 13 year old will be sent to a juvenile jail until 21 (unless of course he gets treated as an adult offender and could go to adult prison for life for murder.)
Do you have any idea of how awful those juvenile facilities are? And the influences in those facilities and what the 12 year old is likely to be like when he or she gets out? You go in as a child and you come out as an adult -- and in the interim years you are taught just about every rotten thing you can imagine.
How do I know all this? Because for about 12 years I worked as a criminal defense attorney in the inner city in DC. I represented indigents -- people with no money.
We need to speak out now and help the very young teens before they succumb to the cool -- we need to set the role and the standard for the younger, not permit the older criminal ones do it. This is why it is so important that role models speak out now.
And of course, most importantly we need to protect the potential victims. We now know about his -- but are we doing anything about it? Are we starting that national dialogue? Are we at least trying to deal with this difficult problem?
The cowards are looking the other way....