SOURCE: Vision Media Productions

January 08, 2008 03:00 ET

Youth Violence -- A Social Issue Rooted in Lack of Values

Rediscovering the Language of Values

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - January 8, 2008) - A spate of incidents around the world has focused media attention on one of our most serious social issues: youth violence.

In Fairfax, Virginia, December 24, 2007, a fourteen-year-old boy is jumped by other teens and savagely beaten. He survives, but the suspects are not identified and the victim's father offers a $10,000 reward for information and testimony leading to their conviction.

In Nottinghamshire, in the UK, in August 2007, a 20-year-old and his 47-year-old father notice a gang of youths kicking their parked car and go out to investigate. The gang turns on the two men and, as help arrives, they continue to throw bottles at the paramedics.

During the same month in Sundsvall, Sweden, a gang of youths attack a group of paramedics in their ambulance as they are preparing to drive away from a call. The attackers kick the ambulance and smash the windscreen before the healthcare workers eventually manage to escape.

These kinds of incidents are unfortunately becoming less isolated, especially, it seems, in the UK where the following stories were reported within the past week:

January 2, 2008: "A Dad of two [52-year-old Ron Sharples] died after being assaulted by a group of youths when he want to look for the family dog."

January 3, 2008: "A Dad suffered horrific injuries at the hands of a gang who hit him over the head with a paving slab. Eric Mitchell, 43, was knocked unconscious and believes he was then beaten as he lay on the ground in Trowbridge, Cardiff."

January 4, 2008: "A father [47-year-old Garry Newlove] died after having his head kicked 'like a football' when he dared to stand up to five drunken teenagers, a court heard yesterday."

What prompts teens to congregate in groups and harass random passersby to the point that they are transformed from innocent children into murderers? Why choose such a life?

When the Economist asked this question in a June 28, 2007 article, it concluded, "It seems few choose it at all. The Home Office found that most gangs had no leader and only a third even had a name (Bristol's 'Aggi' crew, sweetly, is named after its founders' initials). The only common feature, mentioned by nine gang members out of ten, was a regular territory or meeting place. If this is a gang's only durable characteristic, breaking it up ought to be as simple as providing somewhere better for young people to hang around."

What about at home, with parents who are good role models and enjoy spending time with their children and providing a secure place for them to socialize with friends? In fact, British community workers say, for a large number of youth gang members there is a notable lack of positive role models due to missing fathers and deteriorating family relationships.

The recent rash of such stories involving youth gangs prompted Vision Media's David Hulme to ask, "Is it merely coincidence that right now a debate is developing in the UK over the reinvigoration of the traditional family and its responsibility for moral education and the instilling of values in the young? It seems obvious that an increasingly materialistic, self-absorbed and morally ambivalent society is failing its children. Can there really be any doubt that without family based moral teaching, anarchy is the natural outcome?"

In his article, Rediscovering the Language of Values, Hulme proposes an approach to reversing this trend that is very different from that usually taken by society's leaders, who have been hesitant to use ethical terms when solving society's problems. Hulme proposes applying moral language to serious social issues, such as youth violence. It begins within the family, but extends to community leaders as well.

A radical approach? Perhaps. But without it few of the world's problems are likely to change in the near future.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Edwin Stepp
    www.vision.org
    Vision Media Productions
    476 S. Marengo Avenue
    Pasadena, CA 91101
    Phone (24 hrs): 626 535-0444 ext 105