Dear Redwater Review,
Re: Letter to the editor "Legislation contributes to uncontrolled youth" by
Jim Shortt, The Review, Redwater, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 20, 1999, p. 7
The letter by Jim Shortt that you published contains truths about violence that we
don't hear very often, especially not in the almost irresponsibly sensationalized items
and commentaries we see daily in the mainstream press and see or hear in the broadcast
The truth contained in the last paragraph of Jim Shortt's letter is one that can't be
mentioned often enough.
Virtually no youth are violent. It is only a tiny, almost insignificant fraction
Unfortunately, the impression we get from the media is that that fraction is growing at
a catastrophic rate.
The truth is that, overall, rates of violent crimes are on the decline and have been on
the decline every year for about ten years. That is true for many, if not all, of
the developing nations.
The fact that the reduction in violent crime rates has been sustained for about a
decade should give us hope that society is on the mend, and that it will continue to
improve in the beginning of the next millennium. However, one additional truth needs
to be considered, too. The reductions in the rates of violent crimes affected solely
those violent crimes perpetrated by the adult male sector of the population.
It is ironic that in the population sectors -- women and children -- for whom measures
were taken that ostensibly protect them against crimes by adult males, the gains made in
the reduction of violent crimes against them are off-set by increases in violent crimes
committed by them. Women and especially female teenagers are becoming perpetrators
of violent crimes at increasing and accelerating rates.
It is tragic that women's violence directed against children is one category of violent
crimes that has seen astonishing increases, and that violent crimes by female teenagers
are increasing at rates that exceed the rising violent crime rates by women. Let's
hope that these trends can be curbed in the next millennium.
However, that won't be possible without the media becoming aware of the need to report
the truth equitably and honestly. If we want that to happen, the prolonged anti-male
bias in media reporting must stop. That bias prevents us from seeing that the vast
majority of victims of violent crimes are male. It also blinds us to the fact that
children (mostly boys) and men comprise by far the largest group of victims of family
violence, and that violent crimes in families, overall, constitute less than one tenth of
all violent crimes.
Walter H. Schneider
Box 62, Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada, T0B 0S0
Tel: (780) 796-2306
Note: The statistics by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reflect youth
crimes that were prosecuted. Crimes by female youth are far less likely to be
prosecuted than crimes by male youth.
---Original Letter by Jim Shortt---
The Review, Redwater, Alberta, Canada, Dec. 20, 1999, p. 7
Letter to the editor
**Legislation contributes to uncontrolled youth**
At the end of one millennium and the beginning of another there are hopes of more
sanity in the behaviour of human beings. To that end we explore causes why there is
so much civil disobedience; so much rebellion by children; so many acts of vandalism; so
many murders perpetrated by youthful criminals; and why illegal drugs are in use by so
many people, including young people.
There is a popular explanation that blames the possession of firearms, movies showing
violent behaviour, obscene literature depicting violence, violent cartoons designed to
attract an audience of children, the Young Offender's Act, wrestling and boxing bouts
broadcast on television. And even football and hockey games are deemed to encourage
an attitude of violence.
Nevertheless, when we remember our own youth we become aware that many of these same
elements were present in society -- perhaps to a lesser degree. In family residences
of some 40 years ago almost every one contained as many as three or more firearms, some of
these would be handguns. Obscene language and literature were both present, sports
had its complement of violence, and obscene publications were on the newsstands.
Yet, seldom did a youth shoot or injure with a knife or kill a parent, a school class
member or a teacher. This kind of antisocial behaviour was virtually unknown.
The problem of children out of control is caused largely by 'Children's Rights'
legislation. Much power is invested in social workers to act against parents or
against school teachers on any report that a parent or school teacher may have tried to
control a rebellious or unruly child by the use of harsh language or a little
spanking. It seems that little, if any, effort is made to determine whether or not
[any such] report is true.
If proposed new legislation is passed into law the situation will not improve, it will
worsen, and unruly and undisciplined children are certain to take advantage of this
increased freedom to do whatever occurs to them. Parents and school teachers should
be prepared for large legal bills if they hope to defend themselves in court against their
accusers. And we can all prepare for more and more violent uncontrolled activity by
a few rebellious youths.
Despite what is heretofore written, I must say that it is only a very small percentage
of the total number of children in any community who have anti-social reputations casting
a shadow over the vast number of children whose manners are above reproach. Those
disciplined young people merit our full support.
Lamont, Alberta, Canada
Posted with Jim Shortt's permission.
Jim Shortt can be reached at (780) 895-2027