Looking for causes in all the wrong places

The Wilmington, North Carolina StarNews Editorial Board (four white guys) recently wrote an editorial (Link below) expressing their “hope to spend a good amount of time this year educating the community on youth violence.” First, they write, “we have to educate ourselves.”

Good idea. I always recommend people understand a subject before they write about it. In this case I suggest they bone up on the social sciences, including sociology, psychology (especially social psychology), political science, criminology and history.

The editors, representing what they call a “community institution” feel compelled to take on this daunting task as a catalyst for bringing “our community to a point of discussion (see note below).” Specifically—and presumptuously—they “hope by better understanding the role gangs actually play in youth violence, we can better stop it—or at least mitigate it.”

Editors want to know what questions readers have. I have a few comments and questions.

The first step in solving a problem is to identify it—something modern liberal minds usually want to ignore because that often leads back to their support for public policies that caused the problem. Then, too, problem solvers must ignore fallacies, deal with politics and face reality.

“Youth violence” is caused by young black men raised in urban environments without fathers in the family. We don’t need to be trained sociologists to know this; we can read of it in newspapers and see it on TV every day. Still, some people refuse to believe their lying eyes.

Black teenagers’ shooting each other and bystanders is commonplace in most American inner cities. All the “solutions” proposed and implemented for decades have failed because local “leaders” dance around the issue with useless and feel-good projects.

Furthermore, editors mistakenly believe that this is a problem for which we all share responsibility. Obviously, the larger body of our population can’t solve this, nor should we unjustly be burdened with the false notion that somehow we are responsible for other individual’s dysfunctions.

This sociopathic problem should be laid directly at the doorsteps of the places housing criminal youth and in the liberal public policies that have funded the conditions for past generations. These pathogenic conditions, now so embedded in the inner cities, can only be “mitigated” by direct police surveillance and apprehension of criminals.

My question is: If they really want to educate themselves, why don’t the StarNews editorialists discuss this with news editors and send out reporters trained in investigative journalism (there must be at least one on the staff)?

They should interview a sample of only black people living in public housing and other high crime areas in the city. Answers to the following questions might help educate the editors and others who frequently react with puzzlement and misguided ideas about violent black youth:

Do you have children? How many? What gender?

Does their father live at home? Does he have a steady job? Do you have a job?

Do you need government assistance to live? What programs do you sign up for?

Do the children regularly attend school? Do you require them to do daily homework and read?

Do you visit the school and discuss their attendance and achievements with teachers? Do they have discipline problems in school? How do you handle that?

Except for school, where do your children go when they leave home? Do you have rules about them staying out late? Are there places they are not allowed to go?

Do you personally know the people your children associate with? Who are they? What do they do? Do you approve of them?

Do you often discuss right and wrong behavior with your children? Do you teach them to respect laws and your rules? What are the rules for their behavior?

Do you attend church? Do you require your children to attend?

Have you had any discussions with social workers (or the police) about your child’s behavior?

What social influences in this neighborhood do you think are problems for you? Are there any positive influences here?

Would you prefer to live someplace else? Why and where?


The StarNews editorial board is composed of a group of employees who help shape and write the columns that run under the Our View header on the editorial page. 
The Our View columns represent the official opinions of the StarNews as a community institution, which is why they are not signed by individual writers. Members of the editorial board, under the leadership of the publisher, shape the opinions by consensus and write the editorials. Editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the newsroom. 
Current members of the editorial board are Publisher Robert J. Gruber and staff members Scott Nunn (opinions coordinator), Ben Steelman and Si Cantwell
The board highlights issues it thinks are important to our readers and responds to news events, mindful of the newspaper’s principles and stands it has taken in the past. 
We hope by expressing our thoughts that it brings our community to a point of discussion about any given topic. Only then will a community gain intelligent and peaceful resolutions of topics of community interest.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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