Many people confuse the confusion of youth with some kind of mental instability. I recently watched this E! Entertainment special titled “Too Young to Kill: 15 Shocking Crimes,” which told the stories of these kids who’d committed unspeakable acts against loved ones leading to a deadly and final end. Still, I wondered, does trying them as adults really fit into what’s best for their rehabilitation and their lives? Growing up these days is a hard event; I recall my youth and the many challenges therein. I wonder how my life may have been different were it just a few degrees from where it was. I grew up okay; I’m a functioning member of society and I am a pretty good son, brother, and husband to boot. I wondered about my own life, the lives of these kids, and the cultural reasoning’s for things like this happening at all.
We live in a free and open culture. With that freedom you’ve got extremes; you can just as easily turn on the TV and watch a televangelist preach to people about ridding themselves of sin and invoking the spirit of the Lord so that they pass out as you can turn up the channel a bit and see The Godfather (mobsters), Seven (psycho murderer), and Predator (the Governator shoots aliens). So violence and suggestion are in our culture everywhere. While The Godfather may be the most violent of all of these films, it’s also a pretty accurate depiction of gang and mobster lifestyle (if truncated over an extended film viewing period). Kids can see this and it can be confusing; the fact that it’s allowed to permeate is troubling further still.
In our foods there are an egregious amount of chemicals, synthetics, and hormones which we still don’t know the long term effects of. Yes, we think we might; but do we really? How long have these chemicals been in use? Also, kids today live on more processed foods and sugar so that it’s a wonder there aren’t more kids out there in the world, doing what they will to whomever they please. It’s a little sad and a little scary when you think about what we put into our bodies every day. Moreover the callous disregard some parents may have for their kids health needs until after the fact is reason enough to be worried.
I was most struck by this E! Special by how little they talked about the peer pressure on these kids who’d done wrong. In the special it was all about the parents but in actuality most of these kids went to a school and were subjected to an intense amount of peer pressure which made them hate their lives. This brought up the fact that I too was something of a troubled kid; I turned out alright (to this point) but I remember feeling isolated and really sort of outcast. I hid behind my larger-than-life personality and my dare-to-be-dared daring but really, I was sad and felt very much alone. So I found comic books. I was a big fan of Wolverine as I’d felt a kinship in his gruff persona and go-your-own-road isolation. So in my foolishness I begged my parents for a University of Michigan windbreaker and baseball cap. I was no fan of collegiate athletics but Hugh Jackman hadn’t come along yet and made Wolverine such an easily marketable brand. This fact made me even more isolated as the jocks would attempt to engage me about the current state of collegiate athletics (in which I had no interest or knowledge). So now I was subjected to peer pressure from a variety of sources which made the whole episode further stressful.
Regardless now, as a much older individual, I understand how people may have been confused by my actions on the surface. People just want to communicate with other people in a meaningful and real way. through shared interests they can do this. I would have been better off getting something like an X-Man T-shirt (which they did have at the time) then in getting this outfit which labeled me as something other than I was to the people with whom I shared an interest and the same thing to those with whom I didn’t.
My only point about this E! Special and these trials against these kids is that we don’t know why they’ve done what they’ve done. And we don’t know why some young kids react one way to the certain things and others react in a different manner to the same things. So before we go laying a final and total judgment on children, I think we need to move these kids into psychiatric care so that they can be analyzed, cared for, studied, and maybe rehabilitated. Doing so rather than stuffing them into a jail cell for the rest of their lives may help the same crimes from occurring in the future.