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since June 19, 2001


Legislation contributes to uncontrolled youth

My letter to the editor.  

Dear Redwater Review,

Re: Letter to the editor "Legislation contributes to uncontrolled youth" by Jim Shortt, The Review, Redwater, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 20, 1999, p. 7

The letter by Jim Shortt that you published contains truths about violence that we don't hear very often, especially not in the almost irresponsibly sensationalized items and commentaries we see daily in the mainstream press and see or hear in the broadcast media.

The truth contained in the last paragraph of Jim Shortt's letter is one that can't be mentioned often enough.

Virtually no youth are violent.  It is only a tiny, almost insignificant fraction that is.

Unfortunately, the impression we get from the media is that that fraction is growing at a catastrophic rate.

The truth is that, overall, rates of violent crimes are on the decline and have been on the decline every year for about ten years.  That is true for many, if not all, of the developing nations.

The fact that the reduction in violent crime rates has been sustained for about a decade should give us hope that society is on the mend, and that it will continue to improve in the beginning of the next millennium.  However, one additional truth needs to be considered, too.  The reductions in the rates of violent crimes affected solely those violent crimes perpetrated by the adult male sector of the population.

It is ironic that in the population sectors -- women and children -- for whom measures were taken that ostensibly protect them against crimes by adult males, the gains made in the reduction of violent crimes against them are off-set by increases in violent crimes committed by them.  Women and especially female teenagers are becoming perpetrators of violent crimes at increasing and accelerating rates.

It is tragic that women's violence directed against children is one category of violent crimes that has seen astonishing increases, and that violent crimes by female teenagers are increasing at rates that exceed the rising violent crime rates by women.  Let's hope that these trends can be curbed in the next millennium.

However, that won't be possible without the media becoming aware of the need to report the truth equitably and honestly.  If we want that to happen, the prolonged anti-male bias in media reporting must stop.  That bias prevents us from seeing that the vast majority of victims of violent crimes are male.  It also blinds us to the fact that children (mostly boys) and men comprise by far the largest group of victims of family violence, and that violent crimes in families, overall, constitute less than one tenth of all violent crimes.

Walter H. Schneider
Box 62, Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada, T0B 0S0
Tel: (780) 796-2306

Note: The statistics by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reflect youth crimes that were prosecuted.  Crimes by female youth are far less likely to be prosecuted than crimes by male youth.

---Original Letter by Jim Shortt---
The Review, Redwater, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 20, 1999, p. 7

Letter to the editor

**Legislation contributes to uncontrolled youth**

At the end of one millennium and the beginning of another there are hopes of more sanity in the behaviour of human beings.  To that end we explore causes why there is so much civil disobedience; so much rebellion by children; so many acts of vandalism; so many murders perpetrated by youthful criminals; and why illegal drugs are in use by so many people, including young people.

There is a popular explanation that blames the possession of firearms, movies showing violent behaviour, obscene literature depicting violence, violent cartoons designed to attract an audience of children, the Young Offender's Act, wrestling and boxing bouts broadcast on television.  And even football and hockey games are deemed to encourage an attitude of violence.

Nevertheless, when we remember our own youth we become aware that many of these same elements were present in society -- perhaps to a lesser degree.  In family residences of some 40 years ago almost every one contained as many as three or more firearms, some of these would be handguns.  Obscene language and literature were both present, sports had its complement of violence, and obscene publications were on the newsstands.  Yet, seldom did a youth shoot or injure with a knife or kill a parent, a school class member or a teacher.  This kind of antisocial behaviour was virtually unknown.

The problem of children out of control is caused largely by 'Children's Rights' legislation.  Much power is invested in social workers to act against parents or against school teachers on any report that a parent or school teacher may have tried to control a rebellious or unruly child by the use of harsh language or a little spanking.  It seems that little, if any, effort is made to determine whether or not [any such] report is true.

If proposed new legislation is passed into law the situation will not improve, it will worsen, and unruly and undisciplined children are certain to take advantage of this increased freedom to do whatever occurs to them.  Parents and school teachers should be prepared for large legal bills if they hope to defend themselves in court against their accusers.  And we can all prepare for more and more violent uncontrolled activity by a few rebellious youths.

Despite what is heretofore written, I must say that it is only a very small percentage of the total number of children in any community who have anti-social reputations casting a shadow over the vast number of children whose manners are above reproach.  Those disciplined young people merit our full support.
              --Jim Shortt
                Lamont, Alberta, Canada

Posted with Jim Shortt's permission.

Jim Shortt can be reached at (780) 895-2027

Posted 1999 12 25
2001 02 11 (format changes)