Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why is Violence Increasing in Utah?

I've noticed a horrible trend of increasing incidents of violence within my home state of Utah, and across the rest of the United States as well. The latest victim in the news is 7-year old Hser Nay Moo, a beautiful young girl from Burma. She had been abducted a couple of days ago and was found dead, late last night. Reports say that the police already have a man in custody and that he has admitted to causing her death.

This seems to be happening more and more. Why? All I could think of, as I listened to the formal press conference, was of my own children. This young, innocent, girl was described as being very bright and out going. Why would someone abduct her? Why would someone want to hurt or destroy such a beautiful life?

This isn't the only case that caught my attention, though. There have been allegations that a group of 3rd graders in Georgia were planning on killing their school teacher. Their actual intent is in doubt, because of their age. Most premeditated acts of violence don't occur until children get to be 12 years old, or so. It's quite likely that the students were involved in an elaborate form of play, in order to act tough around each other and vent their frustrations, rather than actually hurting their teacher.

What's gets to me, though, is they brought together everything they needed to do it. They brought weapons, handcuffs, and other supplies they would need, to school. That's what got them caught. One of their peers told a school official that one of the other students had a knife. Even if they were just "playing," where did they get the idea that plotting someone's murder was an acceptable form of play?

How do we defend our kids? What happened to the halcyon days of my youth, when playing outside in the neighborhood for hours at a time was considered safe? What happened to showing basic respect for adults, especially teachers, whether they were your parents or not?

On the other hand, how come we haven't prepared our children better? When I was a kid, strangers were potentially scary people to avoid at all costs, and yet my kids think nothing of engaging an unknown adult in conversation. Have I failed them? We've talked about "stranger danger" and all that, and yet sometimes they still don't get it. How can we teach our kids to be safe without making them paranoid of everything and robbing them of their innocence?

I'm so disturbed by all of this that I just don't know, anymore.