Youth Violence And
Killing Blamed On Culture
And Adult Detachment
From ABC News
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Children kill because parents and other adults are uninvolved in their lives, a panel of experts told lawmakers who have condemned violent music lyrics.
A group including law enforcement, clergy and social scientists spoke to Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, and Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, both of whom organized Tuesday's panel discussion.
Most agreed that television, movies, music and video games share the blame, but all the panelists pointed to a deeper cause: an increasing lack of adult involvement.
Fatherless families leave mothers with overwhelming responsibility and kids with what sociologist Barbara Whitehead called "protest masculinity," prompting even small-town teens to join gangs.
"Adult time and supervision matter," said Whitehead, who has written that the dissolution of the traditional two-parent family is harmful to both children and society.
Violence fills cultural void
In rap music and in other forms, violence is filling a cultural void in suburban and rural America, said Eugene Rivers, a Boston pastor who co-founded a coalition of 43 churches credited with lowering crime rates in Boston.
"The male that we're discovering is infinitely more dangerous is not the inner- city brother, because he's going to confine his violence to the 'hood," Rivers said.
"It's the (convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy) McVeigh -- he's the scary one, he's the one that takes down an entire building facility, not some kid with a Saturday-night special in the 'hood who is in most cases going to shoot somebody he knows," Rivers said. "There's something much deeper going on."
Group formed after school shootings
Recent deadly school shootings in Kentucky, Oregon, Arkansas and Mississippi prompted Brownback and Lieberman to convene the group.
"The young and the violent are found in small towns as well as big cities, and their numbers, as well as their crimes, are growing," Brownback said. "Gangs and guns are ever more visible in our schools. Fistfights begin to seem quaint by comparison."
Lieberman, a longtime critic of media violence, is considering legislation that would order the Justice Department to conduct an intensive study on the links between media violence and juvenile crime, "to explore in-depth the question of whether the welter of media violence is helping to break down inhibitions and increase the likelihood that young people will settle conflicts with bullets," he said.
The facts and figures on youth violence are confusing Americans, said James Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University.
While juvenile homicide has decreased by about one-third over the past five years, the rate of murder committed by teen-agers remains 102 percent higher than in 1985.

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