Culture of violence leads to violent kids

Written By Alex Grubbs

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Since I grew up in the Monroeville area, I was shocked about the shooting at the Monroeville Mall on Saturday, Feb. 7. Tarod Hill, 17, shot three people in a gang-related incident inside of Macy’s near Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, an in-mall playground for children.

I would ask the most cliché question— what is wrong with this world? But it isn’t what’s wrong with the world; it’s what’s wrong with our youth, because Hill decided to open fire at a mall on a Saturday night, and this isn’t the first time this mall had youth disrupting its peace.

Back on Dec. 26, over a thousand teenagers were involved in several fights that happened on the same night at Monroeville Mall. Yeah, it was the day after Christmas. These teens just got all their Christmas money and were dropped off by their parents. So what led them to cause a mass riot in a busy mall?

These recent incidents have to make us think—what can we do to fix our youth? Why are we letting these teens get ahold ofguns? Why are we letting these teens create violence instead of peace?

Gun law debate is the first thing that comes to mind. Instilling gun laws on society that restrict gun ownership won’t do any of us justice. These teens can’t legally buy guns to begin with. In this case, the only people we would be restricting are gun owners, and we can’t infringe upon their second amendment rights.

According to KDKA’s Feb. 9 article, the Monroeville Mall has enacted a new youth policy stating, “It will card and eject unaccompanied minors from the mall on Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m. beginning on Feb. 27.”

This will help the mall by lessening the violence that can happen there. However, this doesn’t stop these minors from obtaining guns and shooting other people. That is something we need to address and focus on—not gun laws, but teens procuring them.

A “significant percentage” of adults who have minors living with them report that their firearms are not safely stored, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. This is where some of the problem stems from. These guns need to be hidden. We can’t give children the opportunityto take a gun and possibly shoot up a mall or any other location.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Fact for Families’ Children and Firearms section said “we cannot gun-proof our children and adolescents” because children and adolescents will be playful and curious. That’s true, but we have the choice to prevent them from getting their hands on guns. That playful and curious attitude mixed with anger can lead to the problems that seem to be continuing at this local mall.

Addressing violence in these children’s lives is another approach we need to take. These teens aren’t shooting up malls and schools for no reason. They are exposed to violence constantly whether it is in the media or real life experiences. No, this doesn’t mean we should strip teens of their exposure to all violence. We need to instead steer a clear path for them, so they don’t inflict harm on other people. We have to acknowledge it happens and show them how not to get involved with it.

According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, almost 16 million teens have witnessed some form of violent assault. The foundation also said violence in the family could increase the risk of the teen getting into more violence in the future. We can’t keep teens from witnessing these altercations entirely, but we can help them recover from that emotional trauma and make sure they don’t do it themselves.

We have to make sure these teens aren’texposed to guns and put them on the right path if they are exposed to violence. Being exposed to both increases the likelihood they might inflict violence on themselves or others. It’s a sad reality—but it’s a problem we need to fix.

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