Philadelphia’s response to flash mobs is adequate

“Why is the youth so violent?” was my mother’s response upon hearing the news that at least twenty violent crimes had been committed in Philadelphia in September alone. My mother always has an answer, but this time she was left speechless. Her question was specifically in reference to the violent flash mobs that occurred in the city this summer.

Philadelphia has recently experienced a surge of “flash mobs,” where groups of young people rob and beat citizens. Typically, “flash mobs” are legally organized groups of people performing for fun and entertainment. The wave of violence in Philadelphia, however, was neither legal nor entertaining—it was pointless.

The month of June saw violent mobs of 100 or more teens attacking and destroying. Most of these mobs were arranged over social networking sites, and most were mainly filled by African-American youth from 11 to 25 years old, likely lower to middle class.

Teenagers are naturally gregarious. God programmed in us the desire to commune with those who are like us, emotionally and physically. These kids have come together because they have a lot in common.

Most of the flash mobbers are not A+ students heading to elite colleges. They express themselves through an admiration for rap music and gang activity. These kids are not stupid, they are just senseless.

I wish I could ask them how such crime will bring them out of darkness. Violence is just another way of perpetuating blindness and ignorance.

Of course, the above statements are generalizations of a generation in which excess and self-absorbtion are made worse by peer pressure and a failing economy. Not every teenager turns their angst into cruelty. Some solve their problems with writing, athletics, charity and the like. God willing, most will come to alleviate their frustration through fellowship with Christ and supportive friends. As one gets older, one becomes disillusioned with this culture’s attitude towards greed and violence.

Outraged citizens have put their trust in the police department and Mayor Michael Nutter. The city has beefed up police patrols, enforced early curfews for minors, and threatened jail time not only for law-breaking minors, but also for their parents. I have seen these measures taken in my hometown, Chester, which entered a state of emergency last summer due to gang-related shootings.

I support Philadelphia’s response. The curfews and the heavy police presence have been hit or miss, but all I can do is believe in justice, and put my faith in the law and the kids. Furthermore, I commend Mayor Nutter’s position regarding the role of parents. Sure, parents cannot always watch their children, but one cannot deny the neglect that takes place in many households. It seems that many parents feel powerless when raising their children, so they do not even try.

The city is not responsible for the children of parents who are not there to raise their children. The city is not responsible for the morals that are or are not taught at home. However, the city and its leaders should make efforts to help. I do hope the city will continue to push for more outreach programs and activities to keep these kids off the street and give them an outlet from the pain and ignorance that street activity breeds.


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