Have you ever met a person whose idea of leisure is to pummel others? I have in mind so many of the juveniles I worked with on probation. A group of kids will go out walking, just looking to find an unfortunate person walking alone or with only a few friends. If they don’t come across anyone, they begin to brainstorm anyone they may have a beef with and go right to their home and call them out. If they won’t come out, they’ll break windows or doors and go in and pull them out, or simply beat them inside of their homes. The leisure activity would not be complete without several individuals pulling out their phones and videotaping the pummeling. The smart ones post it on snapchat because it gets deleted when you log off (so I’ve been told) but the not-so-smart ones will post it on youtube. I say not-so-smart because the police and prosecutor’s office routinely monitors known juveniles’ social media sites.
What may surprise some is that the girls are doing this as much, if not more than, the boys.
Where the challenge comes in is trying to find an appropriate response from a justice perspective, i.e. an effective consequence for such behavior. Multiple studies from myriad angles has shown that punishment is ineffective in changing behavior. “Locking kids up” is effective only in keeping them off of the streets and not committing more crimes – but that effect lasts only as long as they are locked up. Further, when you lump low risk and high risk kids on probation together, you are putting the low risk kids at even greater risk to commit further criminal acts — or to be victimized by the tougher kids.
What would YOU do if you had a responsibility of giving accountability in this situation – and why?
Here is one *random* youtube video that came up when I put “girl gang fights” in the search box. This happens ALL THE TIME where I live! This is typical.