What Is Driving the Rise In Teen Violence and Uncontrollable Behavior?

Screenshot YouTube : NBC Chicago

I wasn’t what I would call a troublemaker when I was a teenager, but I had my moments. I smoked cigarettes and occasionally would take part in what I would consider “acceptable trouble.”

Things like TP-ing houses, putting bologna slices on the cars of jerks at school, and stealing yard signs for no real reason other than to see if we could. Sure, these aren’t things my parents are probably proud of.

Still, it wasn’t anything that caused any physical damage or would result in any real quantifiable jail time – I was a kid who did kid stuff. But these days, kids don’t seem as light-hearted and harmless.

Now kids are dark and broody, and not like my generation of Emo broody, but dangerously dark – and they’re scaring the crap out of adults.

Teenage dirtbags

This year, Hermitage High School in Virginia will no longer allow anyone under 18 to attend their football games without a parent or guardian present. This change is due to an increase in “fights and disruptions.”

High school football games were where everyone went when I was a teenager, regardless of what social group you were a part of. It was a time to hang out, eat bland concessions, spread school gossip, smoke cigarettes, and sip Peach Schnapps under the bleachers and then loiter afterward until an appropriate time to head to Denny’s to do roughly the same over a plate of Eggs Over My Hammy.

Fights and disruptions!? Since when did high school football turn into a game at Lincoln Field in Philadelphia?!

Earlier this year in Chicago, there were discussions over instituting curfews and bag checks due to “reckless” and “violent” behavior over what the kids are calling a “teen takeover.” That weekend, 40 kids (and adults) aged 12 to 20 were arrested for everything from reckless behavior to carrying weapons, including a 17-year-old with a gun.

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Then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed the parents, stating:

“…parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.”

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson had a slightly different take:

“…it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”

So if it’s not the parent’s fault and not the kid’s fault, then whose fault is it when kids act like criminals?

The bricks in the wall

Houston Independent School District is attempting to find a way to curb youth disruptions in class, or at least incorporate unruly students into education. Their answer: get rid of librarians and turn libraries into mini-school-jails.

Over two dozen school librarians are evolving into “Team Center” monitors. In 28 schools in the Houston school district, libraries will be repurposed into student centers for kids who have been removed from class due to various disciplinary reasons. In other words, libraries will now be where little hellions are put in Time Out.

Mike Miles, Superintendent of the Houston school district, is calling this plan the ‘New Education System,’ which allows essentially bad kids to join their classes virtually, from what used to be the school library.

Mr. Miles argues that changing up these libraries doesn’t rob other well-behaved students of a cherished resource:

“It’s true that we’re not going to have traditional libraries. That doesn’t mean we’re doing anything with the books. The books are still there, and kids can still read them.”

These students will have to navigate the same disruptive students that make learning challenging, if not impossible, to find said books without the help of the librarians, who will be too busy managing the aforementioned troublemaker students. Please, make that make sense, Mr. Miles.

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Whatever happened to detention, suspension, and expulsion? What exactly does moving disruptive students to the library to go to class virtually teach them about their actions?

Or perhaps more importantly, what is it teaching the well-behaved students?

You gotta fight

Kids are out of control, and I’m from the punk rock generation that was all about bucking the system. I sport a mohawk and still blast Beastie Boys and the Sex Pistols anytime they appear on my playlist. 

In the last quarter of last year, 20% of the robberies in New York City were committed by individuals under 18. Earlier this year, the Kansas City amusement park ‘Worlds of Fun’ had to kick out over 150 teenagers who showed up and began just randomly fighting.

In South Bend, Indiana, teens have started to gather in large groups to participate in violent behavior for seemingly no real reason other than that they can. This isn’t just kids being kids; this is kids realizing that there are no consequences for poor behavior and giving in to their most basic animalistic selves.

Who is to blame for this de-evolution of civilization that we witness within the microcosm of the American teenage experience? Depending on your medium of choice, the list of culprits ranges from schools to social media.

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I’ll grant you that schools and teachers certainly don’t help the situation. Measures like those taken in Houston are too weak on these troubled kids, and curfews and bag checks in Chicago are unfortunate steps that wouldn’t need to be taken if kids understood the concept of consequences.

It’s not social media that is at fault – that’s the same failed cry from my generation when trying to place blame on video games. The main culprit…is us.


You’re not punk enough

I have two kids – a seven-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. Granted, I haven’t experienced teenage years, but it’s no picnic parenting two little ones. 

I don’t subscribe to what many of my peers believe, like ‘peaceful’ or ‘gentle’ parenting, which states parents are collaborators instead of authority figures. No, I don’t collaborate with my children; we are not equals in this house.

I pay the bills and am responsible for their behavior and safety, so it’s my way or the ever-lovin highway, baby. I also don’t opt to let a screen parent my kids.

Anyone who gets my kids a tablet will be purchasing a rather expensive Goodwill donation. No, in this house, we play board games, have discussions, go outside, go on trips, and even more importantly…we’re bored sometimes. That’s OK.

Kids are awful because parents give them the freedom to be awful. I had to eat a lot of fast food the last few months because my Dad was in and out of hospitals.

Every fast food joint I went to with my Mom this summer had gaggles of preteens and teenagers being loud, cussing, acting ‘hard,’ and making a mess. These kids weren’t from Eminem’s 8 Mile Road or Compton’s Brazil and Wilmington; they were well-to-do brats with no doubt well-to-do parents who kid themselves into believing they are good parents.

I know this because, in every case, a cold, long, hard stare from me would cause these kids to scatter. If you are scared of a white 40-year-old woman with a mohawk dining with her mother, you aren’t a punk like me – you’re just a plain twerp who needs a good spanking.

But undoubtedly, these kids probably have parents who go to their teachers and complain about giving their kids poor grades and tell their coaches that they are too hard on them. Bravo, parents, you’re raising the lamest juvenile delinquents yet. 


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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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