Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Violence Starts Early In Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Southwest Journal reports on the growing surge of violent crimes committed by young criminals, males in particular. The concern over violent youths has also been echoed nationwide, as the proportion of young criminals increases (by the way, the Rambix stylebook excludes use of the wishy-washy term "offender").

Minneapolis has certainly had it's share of young thugs bringing the violence in a fearless, pitiless manner. Many of the victims are young as well.

The Southwest Journal reports: "Combating a surge in youth crime".

The number of youth aggravated assault and robbery suspects increased 52 percent, from 262 between January and July last year to 399 during the same period this year. Arrests of juveniles for those offenses increased 60 percent in that time period, jumping from 104 to 165.

The young offenders have contributed to a roughly 32 percent year-to-date increase in violent crimes, which include homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults and rapes.
These statistics are astonishing. Where are the parents? Where is the accountability?

Minneapolis Police Lt. Bryan Schafer has a take on causation:

In April 2003, the Minneapolis Police Department's juvenile unit was disbanded because of budget shortfalls.

The cut eliminated staff focused on youth crime, decentralizing investigations and weakening links to social service programs aimed at keeping youth out of trouble. Holding juvenile offenders accountable had become less of a priority, said Minneapolis Police Lt. Bryan Schafer, who oversees the new unit.

Then juvenile offenses became more of a problem.
I think there are various institutions that have failed juveniles, but I'd start with the parents. Children need both a mother and a father present in a home to teach and demonstrate objective moral values and good citizenship. If the parents are failing in that task, why aren't schools teaching young people how to be civilized? Shouldn't that be part of learning? They're not going to learn good values on the street corner.

The police juvenile unit has been reconstructed to some extent with good results.

Arrests of juveniles for robberies and aggravated assaults increased 115 percent during the unit's first two months of operation. The number of youth charged with those crimes has increased 50 percent over this time last year.
Yet here we go again, blaming budget cuts for violent youth. That dog don't hunt, in my book:

Youth programs and job opportunities are critical for keeping juveniles out of trouble, Gillitzer said.

Such outlets have become harder to find in recent years. Minneapolis has lost roughly $36 million a year in state funding for city programs since 2003, said Mayor R.T. Rybak.
The helpless good Mayor Rybak has no answers, so he goes to his standard fall-back position: budget cuts from the meany Republicans cause all the problems.

How about demanding: accountability, meaningful sentencing, greater police powers without interference from the ever-present and meddling "community activists", schools that include moral values in their lessons, and parental involvement.

In short, do more with less, Minneapolis.

[Photo courtesy Southwest Journal]