Why are they so angry?

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Post by Wrapitup on Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:01 am

Senseless rage sparks inexplicable tragedy
By ANA VECIANA-SUAREZ
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Why are they so angry?

That question invariably pops into my head when I read about teen-on-teen violence. Sadly, such incidents seem to have become more common, and the question has taken on a new urgency as I struggle to make sense of the senseless.

Anger can hardly explain -- or excuse -- the heinous acts we've seen children commit over the past few months. Sooner or later, we're all angry at something or somebody, but the eruption is usually short-lived. Most of us learn to calm down and move on.

We don't stab or stomp or shoot. Yet, some of our children do precisely that. Consider the most recent examples:

• Josie Ratley, an eighth-grader at Deerfield Beach Middle School, was severely beaten in March while she waited for a school bus after class. Wayne Treacy, 15, has been charged in the attack. He reportedly was ticked off at a text Ratley had sent him.

• Alex Ross, 16, was shot in the face by a neighbor as a group of boys were getting ready to play basketball in Jacksonville in January. Friends describe the accused 16-year-old as an honor student who was never mean to anyone.

• Michael Brewer, also a Deerfield Beach student, was burned over two-thirds of his body in October. Police say a dispute over $40 is what led three boys, now charged as adults, to douse Brewer with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire.

• Juan Carlos Rivera, 17, was stabbed to death at Coral Gables High School in September. Another 17-year-old was charged with second-degree murder. The two students had been reportedly fighting over a girl.

• Derrion Albert, 16, was beaten to death a few blocks from his Chicago high school in September. Four teens have been charged with his murder, which was captured on cellphone video.

These are just a few of the attacks that have garnered wide media play since the school year began.

As a mother of two teens, I worry that the slightest provocation can lead to a worst-case scenario.

``Walk away,'' I advise my sons. ``You don't have to be a macho man.''

But walking -- or running -- away is sometimes not enough. Many victims were minding their own business or doing the kinds of things teenagers everywhere do every day: planning a pick-up basketball game, attending a school activity, waiting for the bus. We can't lock up our children to protect them.

After each flare-up, grief counselors spring into action, school officials assure the public about campus safety and parents point accusing fingers at each other. People blame the disturbing acts on budget cuts, poverty, violence-saturated media, dysfunctional families.

I don't dare venture a one-size-fits-all answer, but this I do know: When I bid my child goodbye in the morning, I expect him to return home safely. Surely every mother has a right to that.

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