Observational Trends: Parental Assault

By Chip Warren
July 06, 2010 4:35 p.m. CDT

I was struck by a recollection while reading this great article about Judge L. Kent Bachman's retirement from the bench after 33 years of service.  The story notes:

70-year-old Bachman said he's dismayed at the change in the youth he's seen pass through his court over the years.

"When I started, kids got into fights but used their fists," he said. "Now I get knives, guns, baseball bats, anything they can pick up and slam someone with.

"We get parents who are victims," he said. "These are scary kids, chasing dad around the house with a knife, or an axe."

His quote reminds me of feedback I've received from several intake officers and court officials when I asked what changes they have observed in juvenile crime over the years.  Almost universally the response I get is how alarmed they are to see how often kids are brought in for assaulting their parents.

When shifting crime trends are reported, the question that often follows is, whether the instances of the crime actually rising, or rather if people reporting it more frequently.  In this case, I don't have an answer but regardless, it's a disturbing trend.  Even if more people are reporting the abuse, it occurs often enough to alarm the professionals who deal with juvenile crime on a daily basis.

Bachman questions the influence of the media, and while that's a worthwhile consideration, I have to think that such conflict rises more from a deterioration of familial structure and culture than it does from external stimuli inciting violent behavior.  

That's not to say the media and video games don't play a role in how young people perceive and internalize violence, I just fear that when you are dealing with violence against parents, there are greater ills at play.  

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Posted on July 6, 2010 and filed under The Issues.